Since I’ve discussed the ways software can improve account managers’ service and provide them a competitive advantage, let’s talk about the ways software can improve efficiency (the other competitive advantage) and turn production supervisors into A+ performers.
When it comes to efficiency, your production supervisors are your key asset. The decisions they make can save you money every day. They are essential because they manage your biggest variable costs. What the production supervisor does and how they do it affects not only payroll and margins, but customer satisfaction – which as we know translates into renewals, upsells and customer calls.
Let’s look at what makes an A+ production supervisor so effective. There are four things at which I believe they excel: planning, training, reviewing and economics.
- Planning – There is no substitute for preparation and lead-time management – time is money. Too often, because they lack EASY visibility into the future (a forecast) and are overwhelmed with details, production supervisors wing it, hoping that the schedule they pull out of thin air will somehow marry the right people, equipment and materials for the job.
The A+ production supervisors seem to understand that even a little preparation and lead-time mapping will minimize load, drive and warranty time. Consider that a 5% reduction in monthly hours for a three-man crew saves $8,000 of cost that produced NO revenue dollars – all from planning ahead.
- Training – A production supervisor buried in paperwork can’t be in the field. This invites inefficiency, because real management and training doesn’t happen in an office. Field training not only develops crew skills, but reinforces the leadership dynamic essential to the respect the production supervisor needs to be successful: “I have the answers because of my experience.” “I am your safety net and always have your back.”
Would it not be more efficient to streamline and reduce paperwork in the field, freeing up time for more training? With electronic drag/drop schedule boards, dynamic real time job updates, electronic time card approval, GPS tracking, and purchasing and inventory management on a smart device, the production supervisor can work from the field and still get all of the paperwork done.
- Reviewing – The A+ production supervisors end the day they way they started it – still planning, and more importantly, “buttoning up” the day’s events. They need to compile and communicate all of the hours, materials and equipment for every active job.
Not only does this make the people in the office deliriously happy, it provides real-time job costing and work-in-progress reporting that anyone can see and use to make decisions regarding labor, material and equipment. These account for 70% of the average contractor’s P&L costs. Again – all from planning ahead.
- Economics – The A+ production supervisors take enormous pride in “making the numbers.” They are intensely competitive. Why not leverage this by providing real-time reports for them every day to keep the competitive fire burning?
Sure, it’s nice for a A+ production supervisor to know they did a good job at the end of the week or month – but how about knowing every day? And even better, how about having the boss in front of their peers? I will say it again: You cannot manage what you cannot see … and you cannot build the culture you want unless you are able to manage and lead every day.
The key to efficiency is information. Production supervisors need it in all of its various component pieces to better manage people and purchases. Accurate, complete and timely information is central not only to daily operations and job cost, but also to the production supervisor’s performance, productivity and morale. Today, for too many production supervisors, the pieces of information they need are literally “in pieces” across systems, spreadsheets and papers instead of all in one place.
How do you improve upon this situation? Easy: standard best practices integrated into a single, centralized operating system (workflow) that is available to supervisors with a few clicks or touches. Here’s what I mean by workflow:
Efficiency is more than a numbers game, it’s a mentality.
It’s what people do and how they do it. To develop this mentality and turn it into accountability requires an operating system that first provides visibility, because when you can’t see it you can’t manage it or hold someone accountable for it.
Accountability promotes traction. Traction is that state where people apply their talents the way you want them to – day in and day out. Here is the way I think about this:
Culture creates traction. It cannot happen without an SOS that optimizes visibility and drives accountability. The result is culture – one that can deliver those core goods of service and efficiency measured in growth and profits.