Details, Details, Details

Written by Joe Driscoll

November 17, 2009

What makes a tailored garment look and feel so fine? Details!

What creates the ambiance of a world class resort? Details!

What distinguishes gourmet dining from just another over priced meal. Details, details, details.

Pay attention to the details. Taken separately, they may be just details. Taken together however, the details will determine the overall direction of your business.

Details are important in every facet of a successful business. In products and personnel, in appearance and attitude, and in control and communication. Those managers that pay fastidious attention to detail will find themselves managing companies that will distinguish themselves from the competition.

Businesses don’t stand still, they are either coming or going. The transition from a healthy company to a troubled one begins in a slow and often undetected process. This sets the stage wherein a single traumatic event yields a fundamentally troubled company. Paying attention to small details is an important line of defense if you intend on remaining a winner.

Several years ago two businesses each needed to construct new buildings to house their growing operations. Both companies built new buildings costing about two million dollars each. The similarities in the stories of these two companies end here.

On a tour of the first company, a visitor is struck with how orderly and clean the facility has been maintained. If you hadn’t been told otherwise, you might well have guessed that the building was first occupied just several weeks ago, not two years ago.

As the president of this company guides you through the facility, he constantly stops, pointing out small details that distinguish his operations from those of his competitors. It’s clear that he takes great pride in the smallest of details. The production process is precise, the facility is fastidious.

The pace of activity in the second company is fast. Their two year old facility is beginning to show wear beyond its years however. There is evidence that minor repairs have been postponed and piles of junk are beginning to grow in the corners. While this facility doesn’t look all that bad, when compared to the first facility, it’s a mess.

While commenting on the sloppy conditions in some of the working areas, the president of the second company attributed the poor housekeeping to a heavy workload. Since his employees had been working so hard, he was reluctant to make an issue of the housekeeping details.

Ironically, while it was the second company that was too busy to pay attention to housekeeping details, it was the first company whose order backlog was filled to capacity. The second company was concerned with a slowing rate of incoming orders and they were marginally profitable. Several of their recent crises dealt with customer problems with product performance and quality. Details, details, details.

It’s usually the case that businesses are most profitable when they are operating at high levels. Attention to details, including housekeeping, is a common characteristic shared by most successful companies. Nonetheless, “too busy” is a frequent excuse for not having the time to pay attention to the details. If being busy were a good excuse for letting the details slide, wouldn’t it be the companies with high operating levels that had the problems. It’s usually the other way around.

If it’s attention to details that differentiates the best from the rest, you can’t ever be “too busy” to pay attention to those details.

Why is housekeeping important? Good housekeeping shows respect for the business, the customers and the product. Through good housekeeping a business communicates that it pays attention to detail. A business that pays attention to details will set high standards that will permeate all other areas in the organization.

Employees take care of things they respect. Everyone learns at an early age to take care of those things that are important to them. It’s the responsibility of management to establish high standards for housekeeping and other “details” that require regular attention. In so doing you will be sending a message that attention to detail is important in your business.

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