14 October 2019

The Value of Right First Time

Rather than thinking of rework and the cost of getting things wrong the first time, what about thinking of the value getting things right first time can bring?

Last week I received a communication from school, via their app. It read…

‘Parents can book appointments on our Parents Evening System – Thursday appointments from 3.30pm until 6.30pm’

I immediately reacted, parents that do the school pick up relish that 3.30pm appointment, for others like me, the 5pm is a valuable asset, miss out and it means you’re waiting around or leaving work early.

I got to work immediately, where is this system…? Looked for a link, looked around the app, looked on the website… nothing. A little later, a parent posted in a shared social media group asking the burning question: How?

After multiple comments it was established that the system was yet to be made available. How did we find out this information? Well, I know of from the limited sample of parents in the group, at least 2 had called the school, 1 had emailed. Thinking about how many kids are in the school I’d expect the office was kept very busy!

Just a couple more words would have saved not only the school office but also all the parents valuable time, collectively, think what we all could have achieved!

So it got me thinking about another experience I’ve had in recent months.

Early this year, after a traumatic few months that at times pushed me deep into the realms of anxiety, we finally moved into a new home, a brand-new build. I’m not going go into who the building firm was, as from what I hear most run with a similar standard.

The snagging list was captured a week in, and although it was long it seemed 100% doable within a week or two if someone put some focus into it.

Then when I started to think about some of the snags we had, the finishing touches are valuable and surely some of this stuff is straight forward? You’d hope that capable contractors would be able to do some of this stuff in their sleep.

  • Upstairs heating controlling the downstairs heating and visa versa
  • Light switches wired to nothing and the oven… not even wired in
  • Paint all over the kitchen floor tiles
  • Grass nowhere to be seen

Quite honestly, I could go on… straight away, aside from continuation of my anxiety, the building firm and related contractors are immediately starting to lose their profit and reputation.

We are now 8 months in, the snag list is shorter but by no means is it near complete. Now in addition to the initial list, we’ve had hidden leaks festering away under flooring leading to repair and replacement, we’ve had 2 internal taps replaced as having eventually got our grass the outside tap wasn’t there so we had to use what turned out to be a damaging hosepipe connector for the internal tap… turns out the external tap just needed to be screwed on, a 2-minute job. Again, I could go on outlining additional rework.

All of this eating into profit and reputation.

Outside of the cost of additional fixtures and fittings, there is the cost of resource such as extra contractors but also the impact on the builder’s staff, not only back office but those who have to face the angry owners, many who have been pushed beyond politeness, as yes, everything that occurred with us has been experienced in every single other house, some much worse and from what I hear, performance continues to be the same.

And then there is the impact on us. We are lucky to be in roles that allow flexible working, but I’m sure others have had to sacrifice annual leave. And I mentioned my anxiety, having home life disrupted is bound to have had an emotional impact on all the homeowners.

The value

As I pointed out earlier, the value, if the school had taken an extra second to read their message from the parent’s perspective, us parents could have got a few more hugs in, maybe kept our sanity a bit more in check and I’m sure the office would have had a much more relaxed day.

For the building company, rewind back to February, I doubt that any new build handover could ever go so smoothly as to not have a single snag but if they had stopped, put in some more quality assurance and control, run a few tests before hand-over, deal with trusted contractors… then the value in that would be immense… reputation, recommendation, mental health, resource availability, growth and a HUGE cost saving!

Returning to our business, there is undoubtedly rework as with any business, gaining 100% perfection 100% of the time is not a benchmark any business (be it human or technology) can attain, it is called 6 Sigma for a reason!

The customer journey in our business has a start and an end but in-between, the processes spiral off in all sorts of ways. For example; a simple error when the job is booked, whether by the business or the customer can effect scheduling, logistics, the Operative’s ability to even park never mind complete the job. Post-job correctly processing the data means we are able to correctly invoice, and that is just a small snippet of the people and teams involved in the end to end journey… regardless of the error’s root cause… reputation, recommendation, mental health, resource availability, growth and a HUGE cost saving…

If we endeavour to complete work correctly on the first go, just think of what we could collectively do as a business, think about the opportunities, reduction of stress and improved morale.

Think about this as you perform your daily tasks, empower yourself to consider what we can do better, how we can be proactive, how error prevention can be put in place, how we can improve the customer journey and SHOUT about it.

Think of the value.

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