NOTE: The following Coach’s Corner piece also appears in the November issue of Sign Builder Illustrated magazine.

“I can’t believe this is my shop!”

There are many well-run sign shops around the world, but most of the small ones (ten to fifteen employees) that I’ve had the pleasure of visiting have a lot of work to do behind the scenes, before they are operationally efficient enough to deliver dependable results to customers and reliable profits to their owners.

The problems that cause project delays, rework, cost overruns, work loss injuries, and poor employee morale are not necessarily lack of tool investment or equipment, but have to do with simple common-sense stuff like shop cleanliness, organization, and communication.

Managers and owners are happy to spend on the newest gadgets but just as important is the mindset around production management and the discipline to run an efficient operation that earns profit dollars and makes customers and stakeholders happy.

Some of the often overlooked but extremely important ways to improve performance involve how your shop is set up and how workers perform their duties every day as a routine. They are:

(1.) Efficient plant layout with clear pathways

(2.) Clean benches, floors, and shelf spaces

(3.) Well-lit work areas

(4.) Work-in-Progress (WIP) ID tags

(5.) Dedicated WIP staging queues

(6.) Centralized communication hub

(7.) ERP Production Management Software

(8.) Well-maintained supply-chain system

(9.) Workstations for task-specific work

(10.) Pre-shift team huddles

These ten items can be implemented in any shop within a matter of days and weeks, and usually without any additional capital investment. You have what you need already, the big shift is in your culture and the dedication it takes to transform your business to a new way of doing things and the persistence to stick with it.

I challenge you to take the next two weeks to pick up a broom and move things around. You will be amazed at the turn around in your quality of life and your status with your banker—I guarantee it!

Coach's Corner

—John Hackley

John Hackley is Chief Efficiency Officer for Oculus Business Coaching.