A simple technique to eliminate ‘discombobulations’ and get your business growing strong
By Bill Silverman, PLANET Consultant Member, owner of Springboard Business Coaching
Have you heard the term “discombobulation”? In your business, discombobulations are all those things that aren't working right: the fires that crop up every day and the places where you're inefficient, where there’s waste and confusion.
Discombobulations devour your day and force you to spend way too much time fixing problems and babysitting your crews rather than focusing on marketing and sales activities to grow your business. Discombobulations are keeping you from growing, eating up your profit, stressing you out, and eating into your life!
Here is a simple, but powerful, technique that I call a “Post Up,” that can help you ferret out and fix some of the biggest discombobulations in your business. A Post Up is a simplified version of a technique used by some of the world’s top companies—such as Marriott, Honda, and Toyota—to gather input from their employees to make their businesses run more effectively.
Here’s how a Post Up works:
- Map out the steps you follow to sell and deliver your services.
Keep it simple. You really don’t need a lot of detail. For our purposes, less than 10 steps will do. Here is what I typically use with my clients:
Sell Work Schedule and Prep Complete the Work After Job
That’s really all you need. If you have a design/build business or division, you should add a step for design.
- Hold a Post Up meeting with your team.
Schedule a 1½ or 2 hour team meeting. I suggest you invite your management team and the folks in the field. You’ll need a room big enough to hold everyone and a big piece of paper, maybe 2 ft. x 6 ft. (use butcher paper or a white paper roll from Staples) that you’ll tape up on a wall. You will also need enough pens and 2 inch x 2 inch Post-it note pads for everyone coming to the meeting. Write the steps that you use to deliver your services across the butcher paper on the wall.
The actual meeting is very simple. When your employees arrive, tell them “The purpose of the meeting is to find ways to make the business run better.” Then, give everybody a pad of Post-it notes and a pen and say:
“You are working in this business every day, and I want your help in identifying the biggest sources of problems, fires, inefficiency, waste, and wasted time in our business. I’m going to give you 10-15 minutes, and I want you to think about the problems that you see in our business and write one problem per Post-it note. Write as many problems until you run out of ideas. Please be honest and don’t hold back.”
When everyone is done writing, ask each person to share a problem from one of his or her Post-it notes, and then post that note on the butcher paper at the appropriate step in your sales and service process. Often, several people will have identified the same problem, so gather all of those notes and put them all up. Several people identifying the same problem mean that it is a common problem and may be a costly one. Continue until there are no more problems to share.
In about an hour, you’ll now have a clear view of some of the biggest problems causing the waste, inefficiency, fires, and customer problems in your business. These problems are probably costing you thousands of dollars in profit and wasting hours of your time each day. When I facilitate Post Up meetings, I typically get between 30 and 100 ideas up on the wall. Below is an example from a recent meeting I did.
The Post-its will tend to cluster in specific areas. These are the problem areas that were causing the most fires and eating up most of people's time in the business.
- Prioritize the problems and fix them.
If there is time at the end of your meeting, take one or two of the problems you find and get your team’s help in determining the causes of these problems and developing solutions. Create procedures for the solutions and put them into practice in your business. Check back to make sure that the solutions worked, and adjust them if they didn’t.
You don’t need to solve all the problems in one meeting. Solve a few more each week, and, week by week, you will see that your inefficiencies and fires will go away.
The result of the Post Up will be a smoother running, more profitable business. And with fewer fires, problems and interruptions, you’ll have less stress and more time to do the other things you need to do to grow your business.
Imagine how great your business could be if you used this simple Post Up technique once a quarter! So, pull out your calendar and schedule some time to have a Post-up with your team. Go ahead. Give it a try. It will make a big difference in your business!
Bill Silverman draws heavily on his 25 years of success in reinvigorating businesses at Marriott, CIGNA, and other companies, in senior marketing, business development, and HR positions. Combined with his diverse business and life-coaching experience, Silverman will guide you step-by-step to implement a complete, “out of the (landscape industry) box” program, tailored to how you run your business, to establish your business and life successfully at the next level. He can be reached at bill@SpringboardBizCoaching.com or by calling 856-751-1989.