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Greetings, We are working on our "up front " process. One of our problem areas is the compiling and sharing of selection information, we are fairly diverse in our type of work,so examples of this information might be, cabinet door profiles, sizes and profiles on turnings, quantity and species of components etc. our thoughts are we need a complete list very early in the process to help with ordering
Getting and keeping everyone on the same page through the job
Given your example, wouldn't it make more sense to start a new job, with a new invoice, for the new work? Trying to modify an existing job/invoice/etc. may lead to more confusion and mistakes. I think I would rather have two jobs in progress for the same customer instead of one with modifications.
Another alternative is to completely kill the first job. Then, introduce a new job with all of the customer's order. However, if parts have already been ordered for the initial job, work is underway, etc., that also is a scenario I would avoid.
Or, maybe I am not understanding what the problem really is? What issues are arising from your current method of handling this? It sounds like a change-order, but not really?
You have to much randomity/chaos as you have stated.
You need one thing that is stable to derive information from. Some have done this with ERP software as it saves on double entry of items. (your chances of success with ERP are low)
Some do this with their design software.
Simpler is better, I would lean towards Lean. I.E. get the participants together and come up with a SIMPLE solution.
You don't have to be an engineer to appreciate this true story.
A toothpaste factory had a problem. They sometimes shipped empty boxes without the tube inside. This challenged their perceived quality with the buyers and distributors. Understanding how important the relationship with them was, the CEO of the company assembled his top people. They decided to hire an external engineering company to solve their empty boxes problem. The project followed the usual process: budget and project sponsor allocated, RFP(Request For Proposal), and third-parties selected. Six months (and $8 million) later they had a fantastic solution - on time, on budget, and high quality. Everyone in the project was pleased.
They solved the problem by using a high-tech precision scale that would sound a bell and flash lights whenever a toothpaste box weighed less than it should. The line would stop, someone would walk over, remove the defective box, and then press another button to re-start the line. As a result of the new package monitoring process, no empty boxes were being shipped out of the factory.
With no more customer complaints, the CEO felt the $8 million was well spent. He then reviewed the line statistics report and discovered the number of empty boxes picked up by the scale in the first week was consistent with projections, however, the next three weeks were zero! The estimated rate should have been at least a dozen boxes a day. He had the engineers check the equipment, they verified the report as accurate.
Puzzled, the CEO travelled down to the factory, viewed the part of the line where the precision scale was installed, and observed just ahead of the new $8 million dollar solution sat a $20 desk fan blowing the empty boxes off the belt and into a bin. He asked the line supervisor what that was about.
"Oh, that," the supervisor replied, "Bert, the kid from maintenance, put it there because he was tired of walking over, removing the box and re-starting the line every time the bell rang."
sorry so muddy. let me give more detail on the turning example. A contractor comes in with a spindle to duplicate "I need 75 of these in a hurry" we quote it on the spot he says sounds ok but I need to check with the homeowner.3 weeks later he comes back and wants to know if i can "modify" spindles ( that he bought from a lumber supplier) to look like the originals. No I can't.He says ok but he needs to again check with the homeowner as to what they want to do. 1 week later he calls and says go ahead but he only needs 40. its not the same job but I say ok we'll get started.We are almost finished and he calls and says he needs 5 more but at 42 inches long . I say fine but the sample you gave me and said " I need these" are 42 inches long.He says ok but i want a discount because now I have to cut them.So 40 of 45 were made wrong.
The story in not a rant about contractors or homeowners or lumber suppliers. The question is How can I better get correct information from the customer and easily share that info with all participants including the customer.Does the process start with always assuming the customer cannot communicate to me what they need? thanks again.
1) Make him physically sign off on the samples/specifications in the future.
2) No discount because he gave you the wrong specification and now he "has to cut them." You made them correctly as requested. If he wants you to "cut them" to new specifications, then charge a new fee accordingly.
3) Custom pricing for this customer has just increased for all future orders. You have got to be losing money just on the amount of the time spent by you and your employees.
4) If payment begins to be a problem, invoke your company policy of "custom orders require 100% payment in advance." It may not be your current policy, but you could make it so in the future. Then, if you prefer to waive the policy for (other) good customers, you may do so.
5) Consider a change-order fee. Post it as necessary (office wall, website, where-ever appropriate) and actually charge the fee when all of this extra time eats into your profit.
It is one thing to be the helpful, go-to guy. It is another to be taken advantage of. You are running a business, not a non-profit. Be helpful, but get paid for it. Where else could he get the service you are providing? Probably nowhere, which is why he is buying from you? Or, is it because he can get away with this type of stuff.
You may or may not be getting the entire story about the "home owners" making decisions. But, that is not your problem. Get paid for your work and time.
("climbing off my soapbox now...")
Best of luck!
You are going to have to set up some procedures and boundaries. Only you have the answer with input from your staff.
Yes, simpler is much better.
Yes, a true ERP system will help, because it requires all the order entry procedures to remain the same. Ie: Start at the RFP/Estimate and change it to a Work Order, it will help you determine capacity as long as you use the routing properly, sorry all the lathes are tied up for the days of .........