With 2008 wrapped up, we can look back and see things we should have done differently. Now is a great time to review those things we can improve on as the new year begins. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind as you tune up your shop this year.
Protect your work. Most people in the countertop business know there’s nothing worse than expending effort and money to make a top only to see it get damaged in storage or at the jobsite. The most expensive top is one that was damaged. Did you calculate the cost of making a second top into your original price? To help protect your tops, instill a policy of making sure tops are clamped correctly onto shop carts. You should also look at ways to use other protective products.
Develop shop tools etiquette. As long as there have been shops, the practice of borrowing your fellow worker’s tools has been prevalent. This can create problems. Not only is it wrong to borrow tools without asking, but it’s also a huge money waster. The time wasted over the course of a year trying to locate borrowed tools might make you sick.
Also, bringing back tools in poor condition will only raise the level of stress in the shop. Having a policy regarding the borrowing and returning of all tools is a great shop stabilizer.
Clean the shop. Who has the time? That’s a bad excuse. You have to make time. A shop that is clean and organized does wonders for shop efficiency. It doesn’t always have to be a 100 percent cleanup. Cleaning 80 percent is better than cleaning 0 percent. Sometimes shops are messy because there aren’t difinitive places to put things — cleaning not only involves sweeping up, but also organizing. I make a generic list of assignments for each area. When it’s time to clean, we just add a name next to the assignment.
Look for ways to save money. Besides turning the heat down, there are many ways to save money. Look at your cell phone cost, the cost of consumables, etc. One of the best ways to save money is to keep up-to-date on what’s happening in the industry with an eye for efficiency. Use industry forums and trade shows as a way to gain knowledge, and don’t forget to share this magazine with your employees; they might catch something you didn’t see.
Keep communication open. One way to keep the lines of communication strong between the shop and office is to have a shop or safety meeting. You could use the shop meeting to discuss your shop tune-up plans.
For many, a safety meeting means boredom. We recently had one on how to properly use a fire extinguisher. Our local fire department came to the shop and conducted it for free. Many of us thought we knew how to put out a fire, but quickly discovered that we didn’t. We all left that meeting much better prepared to deal with an emergency.
Cross-train employees. Cross-training is very important. Having someone available to take the place of an absent employee keeps the shop moving forward. Cross-training creates a more flexible workforce, which is good for the employees and the manager. Every time an employee learns something new, the value of your workforce goes up.