Jaw-Dropping Email: Owner Shares Business Nightmare
I received a jaw-dropping email from an overwrought business owner I had begun corresponding with a few years ago. His detailed email was so stunning I asked him if I could publish it for all to read. He agreed.
As a business systems analyst, I’ve heard some hair-raising stories about business owners and managers dealing with disorder in their businesses, but NEVER has an owner shared so honestly about his plight, as did this one. Not only JAW-DROPPING — but, absolutely MIND-BOGGLING!
“How in the world did this guy’s business come to this?” you may ask, once you’ve read the details. But, I suggest that many of YOU, reading this blog, are experiencing something like this nightmare in your own business.
The Owner of this print manufacturing business gave us permission to post his email in our blog, hoping, as I am, that it might benefit other small businesses.
SO … having changed people’s names to protect the innocent (and the NOT-so-innocent), I implore you to read this exasperated Owner’s email below, just as he wrote it to me, about what’s happening in his business, without proper systems, even as we speak …
The Actual Jaw-Dropping Email Below
From: [The Owner]
Sent: Tuesday, Jan 2, 2018 at 9:14 a.m.
So, John [bindery worker] walks up to Bob [the manager] with a job in his hand, “Bob, I cut this wrong.” Standing there, I [the Owner] said, “Hmm, can I see the work order?” John didn’t have one. I said, “John, that is not how we do it! I talked to you about understanding the quantity, finished size and other bindery needs, like scoring or perfing that happen before cutting.” But, he got a VERBAL order from Bob, I assumed. “Bob, that is not how we do business!” I said.
I was calm, when I should have gone apeshit. No Work Order? And he is cutting jobs? Are you serious? Back in the day, I would always have the Work Order with the work. And I do now. The Work Order needs to be ON the job, with dated and initialed notes specifying the quantity run and date. In order for a business to grow, it has to have systems. And process, and training, and that is ALL gone. It is my fault, but for the bindery guy to cut a job with no Work Order, what are you thinking?
Last week I went in, and there was an empty Work Order on the copier, and a pile of copies in the bindery area with NO Work Order. Was the order complete? How many were run? Don't know. Are you kidding me?
So, let's go through some other recent violations.
If you want to go back two years, we can do that too.
Job 77761. 100% discount. Why? Don't know. No documents showing that the customer made a mistake and we are giving a courtesy discount? What happened? What is the plan to make sure that does not happen again? Did we violate a rule? Or, did the customer make a mistake, and we are being nice? Did the website fail? How are we making sure that does not happen again? Don't know. I want to know!
Job 77733. The Work Order clearly says 9x9 finish size, yet the product on the copier is 8.5x11. No notes, no documentation that the work process changed. Do you think [vendors] either one would give a job to the production staff with a verbal override? This job says 9x9, but it is really 8.5x11. “Oh, by the way, tell the night shift would you?” That would never happen at McDonald’s … that they are really out of big mac sauce, but the order form says [they’re out of] burrito sauce. And then the employee at the store gives the verbal order to the warehouse guy?
No, the warehouse guy better fill what the order says. Do you place an order at [a paper company], and they do not document EXACTLY what you want? Does the warehouse guy fill orders on a VERBAL instruction? Crazy right?
Job 77723. No sample. When was it run? Just shows our cost on the postage, $84.56. But our invoice says $161.61. Who proofed that?
Job 77742. The Work Order CLEARLY said, start numbering at 3501. Yet the product we produced started at 3001. What?
Job 77635 was in our shop for two weeks before it was ordered from our outside vendor. Really? How would you react if we placed an order with one of our outside vendors and it sat for two weeks with no communication from them? So, then you had to hire temps to complete the job in a rush. Perhaps if the order was completed during the two-week delay, we would have saved that expense.
Job 77713 was a rush order, and the Work Order clearly says COD. Yet we produced it, did not keep a sample, and sent it out with no record of where it went (there are 2 addresses on work order), or when it was shipped. No sample, are you serious? Would one of our vendors send us a COD order without payment? No!
Job 77529. Order produced wrong, because the first copy produced was not checked. First copy out should be checked, initialed, and placed in the Work Order. That did not happen! Then because we did not have enough paper, 80 pads were done and delivered. But because there was no documents, ANOTHER 80 pads were produced, giving the customer 60 pads over. Would our outside vendor deliver 60% over, without charging us? We did.
Job 77664. No sample. Easily $400 in paper and click charges. Just trash. Wrong art printed. Into the trash.
Job 77619. Empty Work Order on copier, product in back of shop. Really?
There's much more…
Job 77555. Postage was put into Shipping field. Yes, it does make a difference in accounting.
Job 77541 was printed twice, because the work order was not noted as [completed], and the Work Order did not travel with the product.
Job 77561. Work order said, green paper, but white paper was ordered for the job. Not their fault, but we paid twice. Work order said two-color, but job was produced one-color. No notes, no nothing. I would instruct and train John to not process the job. But it would delay it until clarification. Instructions to printer were one-color. Job was produced without indicia. Had to be added by hand.
Job 77273. Price of job went down from when we produced it last. Why? No answer.
Job 77091. The Job was cut before perfing (John not having the Work Order or understanding it was supposed to be perfed two-up). Job had to be rerun. Did we not learn a lesson there? Or do some training?
Philip, there's even More!
Let’s talk about Elaine and the computer.
2 distinct issues:
One is, she is intentionally misusing the time tracking software. And when I tell Bob that I or we need to train her on it, Bob gets mad and says he is going to quit. In my last job, indeed every production job had production standards. I was expected to be doing chargeable work most of the time. Now if management bids a job for four hours and it took me six, they would look to see if either I was not operating properly, or if the equipment was not running properly, or if their quoting process was defective. Bob, you intentionally tell Elaine to not use the time keeping software properly. That needs to change. Elaine needs to be logged into and working on a job ... OR logged in and working on an overhead function. Like computer maintenance or selling at the front counter (which is not her job description).
Two is, she is using our equipment for her own business. Last week she checked out at 5:30 and was still there at 7:30. Do you know that? Are you allowing that? Is she doing work for us on her own time, like web portals or something? Why is she there?
[Email signed - The Owner]
Wow! Why We Do What We Do
If the above email is a little hard to understand, it’s due to the extreme and warranted frustration of The Owner.
However, I hope you took time to read this heartfelt email. Can you relate to the nightmare of chaos he has been experiencing in his company? Sadly, a relative of his manages his company, and balks at any mention of implementing business process management systems.
Our company has been promoting the implementation of business process management systems for years, to prevent what’s seen in the above email. And it happens more than you know!
Sadly, there are very few small business owners who actually GET IT! And even fewer who will stop and do the necessary work to end THE CHAOS AND FRUSTRATIONS IN THEIR BUSINESS.
Successful author and business systems exponent, Michael Gerber, wrote,“YOU are the problem, YOU'VE always been the problem, and YOU will always be the problem, until YOU change!”
So, now I share that bit of wisdom with YOU!
The fact is, mistakes and other business management frustrations were happening to me in my business years ago, until I decided to change. I realized that what Mr. Gerber was saying was true, I was the problem, I would always be the problem, until I decided to change. And change I did! It’s all documented in my book — System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business.
Did I mention? Great systems work!
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.