We talked about lobbies last week. This week let's imagine a valued customer showing up at your facility unannounced. What would they see? What would be their reaction?
From what I have seen in my travels this year, I'll give you some examples.
Weed choked with broken sidewalks, it is impossible to get to the door that might be the visitor entrance (it is a guess it is the visitor entrance because it is not marked). Another facility, in a nice modern industrial park, had the windows covered with plain paper, obviously just taped in place, and a small 8 ½ x 11 piece of paper on the door with the name of the company (a really big company in our industry) printed on it in about a 12 pt. font. The phone number, listed on the piece of paper, when called, said it was disconnected. This facility was in business all right--there were loading docks nearby with activity I could see going on. Trucks were being loaded with finished corrugated boxes in two or three trucks backed up to the docks. Looking around the edge of the trucks (from the street) one could see operating machinery. From my research this facility had been in this location for several years--one could not use the excuse "we just moved in."
I did not attempt to get any closer to this aforementioned facility, for just a month or two earlier in another city, a helpful employee, when I was looking for the office, took me through an active truck loading area. If I was not trained and aware of my surroundings, I would have been run over by a fork truck backing out of a semi he was loading. He missed me by inches.
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Many facilities have broken signage, swaying fences and a general unkempt look. Yet, I am sure the employees drive by this debris daily to get to their employment. What does this do for their morale? Would you do your best in a facility that looks bombed out and on its last leg? What kind of a person would apply for a job in such a facility? I would think you would have to have low self-esteem, low motivation or simply be totally desperate to even approach such a place.
Now, the places I visited were on a continuum from very well maintained to looking like they are going out of business this Friday. Unfortunately, I would say the median was skewed towards the least desirable appearance.
These days, your employees know what you think of them, for you have a website. They can look at this website and make their own assessment about how much you care about their place of employment. You will no doubt have very nice photographs, maybe videos on your website. It doesn't take a genius to assess what is shown on the website and compare that to the conditions in which you have them work. Your morale problems start at your property line.
From their website scan, or the quality consultants you bring in to train them, they most likely determine that as a corporation, you are a hypocrite if your property conditions are as I describe. If you have customer problems or quality problems, take a look at your site conditions. It takes very little money to correct these, and you will make it up in improved morale, real product quality and productivity in months if not weeks.
For safety this week, it is so important to have your property clearly marked for emergency responders if nothing else. Invite your local fire department over and ask them what signage and markings they need to serve you efficiently.
Be safe and we will talk next week.