2012 has been yet another year of organizing my company. I've made a lot of progress, enough that about six weeks ago I was starting to become clueless about what the next steps were, and I knew I needed to make more changes. It occurred to me that Fedex had given me a free scale and a printer to improve my shipping so maybe they would also give me free advice. I asked my rep if there was anyone at Fedex who could come to my warehouse and tell me how to set up a more efficient shipping department.
Within a week, a very nice man came out, watched what we did and made just a few achievable suggestions:
- Give the staff specific job duties so that when they come in they just tear into their job. Before that, we kind of shared duties, one person jumping in when another needed help. My advisor pointed out that people are more relaxed when they know what their job is and they are faster and more efficient when they do the same thing over and again. At first my husband was worried that they would get bored doing the same thing over and over, but my staff all report "no". They much prefer working this way.
- Set specific goals for your staff. For example, tell the picking clerk exactly how many orders you expect them to pick in a shift, and then see what can be done to help them meet those goals. Of course find ways to reward them when they do. We do bonuses every quarter and it was really fun this quarter to start rewarding people based on real, definable achievements.
- Improve storage by making better use of the front room, getting rid of things that are obsolete, and going more vertical with existing shelving.
- I think he was trying to keep the list short and sweet so I wouldn't be overwhelmed but just as he left he paused and said softly, "Maybe you should get a conveyor".
Within the first couple weeks, I implemented all but the last of his suggestions and saw a huge change in attitudes and efficiencies. That last suggestion, though, it was just weird to me. I'm not a small thinker, but I'm also not a big thinker. When someone suggests to me that I need a conveyor a part of me starts laughing inside.
Then I began to pay attention to how my shipping staff was handling boxes. There was a lot of lifting and putting down, a lot of boxes getting in the way of foot traffic. Maybe we actually did need a conveyor. Something that they could pack the boxes on, then push the boxes out of the way into the waiting hands of the Fedex driver. Just maybe.
Last weekend, as hubby and I were tooling around town, I suggested we go to the Habitat for Humanity Reuse store just for fun. This is a shop like Goodwill or Salvation Army only more construction related, selling such things as door knobs and old paint. I wandered the shop for ten minutes before I saw my conveyor. Perfect width, perfect length, and perfect price.
At that moment, I heard that "ping" in my brain that happens when the universe brings me something. That "ping" I heard the day I met my husband, the day I first touched the walls of my warehouse. Never thought I'd hear that "ping" standing in front of a conveyor.
Maybe I'm getting better at hearing the "ping". If I get better at hearing the "ping", then maybe, it's all going to work out just fine.