It’s no secret that I think systems will help a shop run better – more efficiently, easier to train employees, higher profits. Systems take time to implement, however. One of the conversations I frequently have is, “OK, I’ll accept your premise that it will make more efficient – so what’s the first thing I should do?”
The first thing you should do is look at where you’re getting your complaints, your returns, etc. and figure out why that’s happening. If folks aren’t happy with you, not much else is going to go right.
How do you figure out what they’re unhappy with? Keep some really simple data sheets – it might look something like this:
|Damaged in transit||X||X X||X||X||X X|
|Wrong color||X X X|
Simple data like this can tell us several things:
- where we are falling short
- when we are falling short
- how badly we are falling short
Let’s look at our collected data for last week… on Saturday we notice that we are seeing wrong color sent out, and also parts damaged in transit. You may want to look at what’s different on that day – especially for wrong color, where we have no defects for the entire week other than Saturday. Is there someone who only works on the weekend? (Perhaps they’re colorblind and didn’t know it – I’ve seen it happen). Perhaps that’s when the shop is the busiest, and it’s a side effect of working too fast. Or maybe it’s another reason you can figure out, now that you know where to look.
You can also look to see that “damaged in transit” is happening across the week, and that it’s also the most common defect/complaint (it’s got the most number of X’s). Since we’re all too busy to do analysis on every single defect code all at once, we want to spend our time working on correcting the ones that will give us the biggest bang for the buck – the ones that we can see the biggest return on our investment of time and effort to correct. So, for the 14 complaints/returns we received last week, 7 of them, or 50%, can be eliminated if we fix our biggest offender, “damage in transit”.
Once you know your metrics, you can make changes based on data rather than gut feel. As the old saying goes, “Data is king!” And knowing where to spend your time, to fix 50% of the defects by addressing on 25% of the possible reasons, is a good trade-off of your time and effort.