Below is an article by Karl Forth from Cabinet Maker FDM that applies across the board to other industries. The article can be found at http://www.cabinetmakerfdm.com/8229.html
When I travel to visit woodworking companies, I’m often asked, “How do we compare with other companies you’ve seen?”
That’s often a difficult judgment to make. Here are some of my own general observations from visiting many successful companies. Keep in mind that over the past 12 years I’ve visited mostly medium-sized and larger companies, while Will Sampson has visited many smaller shops.
Some of these observations have to be modified in the current recession. It’s harder to say no to work and some companies have had to be more flexible.
1. Stay focused and know what they do well
2. Say no to some jobs if they don’t fit.
3. Get by with fewer employees.
4. Treat employees well, offering good pay and benefits
5. Emphasize training, both in new technology and employee development.
6. Have a core group of key people that have been with the company a long time
7. Use lean manufacturing techniques if possible. Companies are not afraid to redo the shop layout or manufacturing flow if efficiency can be increased.
8. Identify a need and match software to that need before purchasing.
9. Recognize when new technology can pay off, and are not afraid to make the jump to an advanced but unfamiliar technology.
10. Have upgraded their finishing capability.
11. Have little or no inventory. (Although recently we’ve seen more inventory creep back into some shops.)
12. Have some knowledge of competitors, as well as their strengths and weaknesses.
Also in that issue is a second article “Get Ready for Pent Up Demand” by Gero Sassenberg found at http://www.cabinetmakerfdm.com/Gero_Sassenberg/8267.html
These articles put into focus the need to invest in building your systems, procedures and controls and take this time to be ready to take advantage of the improving economy—whenever that happens!