How to Reduce Mistakes to Increase Profits
Mistakes in the workflow can seem to be a never ending battle for a shop manager or owner. In fact, missed deadlines are one huge hiccup in the day-to-day operation of a stone fabrication shop. Although many shop managers don’t realize it, there are some simple methods that can help minimize the mistakes in your shop. In this article we will look at how to reduce mistakes to increase profits.
Fabrication Mistakes That Eat Away Profits
It is an easy concept to understand but perhaps more difficult diagnose and correct. Mistakes in the fabrication shop can cost a shop owner a great deal of heartache; not to mention dollars. As with anything, it is much easier to make adjustments when the target is in sight. So we will first breakdown what constitutes a mistake. Afterward, we will delve into the process of how to correct various mistakes that cost fabrication shops money.
What Fabrication Mistakes Are Most Significant?
For the purpose of our discussion, we are going to focus on two specific occurrences that we will lump into one term called “mistakes”; they are:
- Work Improperly Performed
- Missed Deadlines
Fabricators make the biggest improvements when they effectively correct these two types of mistakes. How so? Just think of all the profits that these types of mistakes cost the shop. The hours spent in performing a job more than once can eat away at profitability. Along those same lines, missing deadlines causes unnecessary customer service time. Employees prevent mistakes by performing job correctly the first time. Finally, it is easy to overlook the resources spent to correct mistakes.
- Wear and tear on equipment doing a job multiple times while only being paid once.
- The waste of materials that were not properly cut or processed that cannot be corrected or reused.
In light of the significant cost of mistakes and missed deadlines, it pays to consider what is often the caused of the types of miscues. That is what we will consider next.
What Causes Mistakes In Stone Fabrication?
For the most part, a couple of factors cause a significant number of the most costly mistakes. Both of which are controllable by the shop owner or manager. These causes are:
- Ineffective Communication
- Manager or owner did not clearly communicate a given task.
- Employees misunderstand deadline requirements as they are given.
- Task Ambiguity
- Employee misunderstood the task.
- The scope of the work or task changed and the change was not perceived.
- Employee misunderstood the responsibilities.
- Business growth happened too fast and the process did not scale well with the growth in sales.
As you can see from the list above, the two areas, 1) communication and 2) task definition can manifest themselves in a number of ways. Additionally, employees are not always to blame for these kinds of mistakes. They simply can happen because of misunderstandings. That means the fabrication shop manager or shop owner must provide as much clarity as possible in order to eliminate these mistakes and increase productivity. This increase in productivity translates into less waste and a boost in profits. let’s take a look at how to significantly reduce those kinds of mistakes.
How To Reduce Costly Fabrication Mistakes
The following process reduces costly fabrication mistakes:
- Have “roles” designed to accomplish work or tasks in a profitable manner
- Have clearly defined responsibilities
- Clearly defined task definitions
- Train Employees to perform tasks
- Measure the results.
- Create an action plan and communicate it to each employee in the role.
- Provide a checklist to the employee filling the role.
Let’s look a little closer at that list.
Create Roles For Employees
Having defined “roles” that represent a specific task or group of tasks. The manager or owner of the fabrication shop defines and redefines the roles. For example, the task of checking for chips or irregularities in a slab. The task may even be done multiple times throughout the process; reducing the likelihood of such a mistake making it to the customer.
Clearly describe each role and task(s) each role performs. Clearly define role responsibilities to each employee performing that role. The employee’s role might require tasks different from those in the currently defined role. So it is important to define the task “clearly”. Communicating the tasks associated with the role to the employee performing it ensures that the employee remains focused on completing the task in the proper way.
Define each task clearly to any employees that are in roles that perform the tasks. Define the accuracy, scope, and standard that must be met in order for the task to be declared “completed”. This is key because you want the employee to know clearly what is expected from any role that performs that specific task.
Determine measurable milestones. Included in the task definitions should be a clear timeline for completion and the employees responsible for completing the task should clearly understand the expectation. These timelines are critical for the efficient operation of the shop. Getting back to a customer 3 days after the quote request was submitted is likely going to cost you the customer and the project. Make sure that the timelines for tasks are clear and understood by each employee performing a role of which the task is a part.
Make A Plan Of Action
The next step in how to reduce mistakes to increase profits is measuring milestones. This is done once the scope of the role and tasks are defined. Then, it is time to layout the action plan. This will serve as a road map of how to get from point A to point B; with point B being the completed task. This action plan should be a clear set of steps that take the fabrication employee from the beginning to the end of the task in an orderly fashion. These steps should be in writing and not just spoken to the employee at the beginning of his/her time filling a given role. Writing the action plan down creates a reference for the stone worker. This means that he/she can refer to it often and remind themselves of how to go from one point to the next.
Each task has a checklist that allows for the employee in a given role to audit his/her own work. Task checklists dramatically increase the probability that the work will be completed correctly and on time. And that’s not the only benefit of having checklists. They also allow the stone workers to supervise their own work as they learn the process and relieve them from having to remember as many details about the process.
Even though you cannot eliminate every mistake. Using a process that focuses on clarity and focus, such as the one we have considered here, will make your fabrication process more efficient. You will find that the number of mistakes that can cause profits to fly away like the dust from a stone slab can be drastically reduced.