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Shop Management 101: The Tactical Use of Time

(February/March 2018) posted on Tue Mar 13, 2018

What if your team had more hours in a day to concentrate on their roles in getting quality products out the door?

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By Marshall Atkinson

More things happen when we organize the work. Often, one department depends on something another department does before they can get started. What happens in your company in that situation? Is there good communication, or do things just sit?

For example, let’s look at a rush order. It doesn’t matter what market you’re in: Rush orders are commonplace and a headache for any scheduler. When a rush order comes in, each department should know exactly what to do. Maybe in your shop, rush orders go to the head of the line and are worked on first. You want a process in place where everyone has what they need and the order can be completed from start to finish without having a special meeting or discussion. If that’s not the case, you have some work to do to create that workflow.

But not just for rush orders – think about everyday, average orders, too. Consider how each department prioritizes its workload to accommodate those jobs so they ship on time.

Say No
One great way to gain more time in your company’s day is to learn that it’s OK to say no. Screen printers pride themselves on taking every crazy job that comes along. Admit it: Right now, you have jobs on your production schedule that are not as profitable as others.

A better tactical use of your time is to concentrate on higher margin jobs, filling your schedule with profitable work that makes sense for your business. But that isn’t going to happen by magic. It will take an on-purpose initiative.

Try saying no to jobs that require overtime to complete when the customers aren’t willing to pay for it. Try sending digital mockups instead of producing samples for your customers to free up some production time. I’m not advocating doing anything that may jeopardize business relationships that matter. What I’m suggesting is to be more judicious with the work you accept.

Be Proactive
One trait that characterizes all the top shops I’ve worked with is their ability to be proactive on a continual basis. They don’t just look at tomorrow’s schedule – they think a few weeks out. They know what’s in the pipeline and are planning for any challenges or issues that the upcoming work may bring.


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