For our March SIG we discussed the challenge of improving Paul Boer’s Sales/Order process.
Paul Boers has been making greenhouses in the Niagara area for over 50 years. Their challenge is they have a large customer base and make greenhouses that vary in price from a few thousand dollars up to a few million dollars. They had created a great spaghetti diagram to illustrate the current process and have started to put steps in place to improve the process. Wernher, General Manager at Paul Boers, walked us through their current process and some of the changes he had made. As he walked us through the process, the group noticed several bottle necks and inefficiencies.
The benefit to being so open about this challenge during the SIG was that Paul Boers received direct feedback on their current process and some great suggestions came out of it. One of the challenges at Paul Boers is that a quote could take anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 weeks to complete and the flow of quotes is not a steady process but tends to be higher during the early part of the year and quieter during the summer months.
Some questions we discussed included:
- What have you implemented to improving your sales process?
- How should they reorganize the sales/ order process to eliminate bottlenecks? Do you use a time line/software or other tools to manage your sales process?
- How could you reduce inputs and outputs by function?
- How do you manage customer expectations on options?
- What other challenges do you have regarding your Sales process?
Some of the comments/feedback included:
- Colour coding people and material differently on the spaghetti diagram
- Put the time spent in each area on the spaghetti diagram
- How do you manage fluctuating sales/quote levels?
- What can you do ahead of time to make this easier?
- What is the key to getting the sale?
- Where are the lead time issues?
- Good read - Sales Process Engineering by Justin Roff Marsh
- What is the goal of improving the order process? To improve revenue per employee
- Can quotes/technical listings work together?
- What support to customers can you charge for?
An interesting part of the discussion focused on the concept of who the ideal customer is (not just at Paul Boers, but at any company). The comment was made that just because someone wants to buy something from you doesn't mean you'll make it. It is important to filter opportunities and decide where your key competencies are. It is ok to turn down a $10 part order if the time is better spent working on a large custom order. It is also important to set some metrics for your organization and to share these with your employees so that they can work towards improving with you.
Value Stream mapping (or creating a spaghetti diagram) is a great start to figure out the bottlenecks, inefficiencies and improvement opportunities in any value chain within your operation. It was fantastic that Paul Boers opened their doors to the group from EMC to show us their challenges and help us work through them. Thanks again to the team at Paul Boers for hosting this great event! For more information on the Hamilton/Niagara consortium and related happenings please contact Laura Gibson at email@example.com or 226-388-3894.