The KAIZEN WayJun 16, 2022
In case you’ve never heard of it before, KAIZEN, the Japanese word for constant improvement, is a concept referring to business activities that continuously improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers.
Kaizen also applies to processes, such as purchasing and logistics, that cross organizational boundaries into the supply chain. It has been applied in healthcare, psychotherapy, life coaching, government, and banking. And today, we are going to apply it to the window covering industry for the first time :)
By improving standardized programs and processes, Kaizen aims to eliminate waste and redundancies (lean manufacturing). Kaizen was first practiced in Japanese businesses after World War II, influenced in part by American business and quality-management teachers, and most notably as part of The Toyota Way.
It has since spread throughout the world and has been applied to environments outside business and productivity.
And guess what? You likely apply some of those principles to your business and personal life already. Or at least, you should.
If you are like me and my business, we are far from being at the same size as Toyota, Unilever, or Nestle. Most likely, you either work for yourself or are part of a small organization. Yet, Kaizen would be perfect for your business too.
I did not know about this whole concept until recently, but I have had this constant improvement mindset since my first days in the industry. For example:
1. I have attended the same training multiple times and every time I attend, I learn something new that enhances my company's bottom line.
2. I am constantly visiting Facebook groups to learn and participate in discussions about installation topics so I can solve challenges quicker for my customers.
3. Every time I get a chance, I ask my designers and workroom clients how they do this or that so we can compare notes and discuss improvements.
4. I use my own screws and wall anchors for my installations - not the ones provided with products. I feel that my materials have superior quality and perform better.
You see, part of being a Top-Notch installer, or a Top-Notch professional for that matter is to have a mindset focused on excellence and constant self-improvement.
In case you’re motivated to try Kaizen but are wondering what areas to focus on first, here are a few suggestions to look into:
a. How long does it take for you to perform a task such as cutting fabric, installing a shade, or making a sale? Time it and analyze every step of the process. Perhaps, you may find one or two movements that could be eliminated to streamline the operation.
b. Do you waste time looking for tools or parts in your van? Is everything organized and easy to reach? Maybe it is time to group similar parts in bins or containers to speed up your installs.
c. How do you handle the trash? Do you leave it with the customer or bring it back to your shop? Do you break the boxes? How do you discard it? Do you bring it to the dump or pay for a pickup service?
d. What’s the process to bill a client? Do you have an installation price list with a gazillion lines that make everyone’s eyes glaze over? Or just a few items that reduce questions and eliminate miscommunication. Do you charge per item or by the hour?
The point is, Kaizen is a mindset, a systematic way to run a business, a philosophy to reduce and eliminate waste. It is not a “one and done” or a “get rich quick” scheme.
I dare you to view it as a game. When I am installing, I challenge myself to find ways to improve my own techniques or to discover a new tool to enhance my own performance.
That mindset can be applied to your well-being too. Like eating healthier, having weekly massages, and sleeping better.
Small changes over a period of time produce fantastic results. It is like saving a bit every week and using compounding interest to boost it. Don’t undermine it, because it’s powerful.
Keep it lean, keep it improving, and Never Stop Learning!
Roger (meet me here)
BY THE WAY: My team and I are working very hard to deliver awesome, educational, and informative content about installations on a daily basis. The more engagement, the farther our content can spread so everyone would benefit. Thanks so much for helping us make our industry stronger. Follow us @TradingUpConsulting on Instagram or Facebook
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