In a customer facing role, I get to hear a lot of feedback on current market conditions. There are three common problems I run into time and time again that are having a damaging and lasting effect on the successful running of a window and door business.
Right now, the biggest issue companies face is a labor shortage. There is a desperate shortage of reliable, qualified and skilled people to fill open roles within their business. Simply trying to “find” more staff doesn’t work anymore. And, if you do get a good hire, it is very difficult to keep them.
I also run into the issue of a term called “tribal knowledge” where a lot of undocumented information is known only by a small number of individuals within the business. The danger with tribal knowledge is that if for some reason, one of your key staff is no longer an employee, all that knowledge, information and experience built up over the number of years is completely lost.
Finally, the third largest challenge I run into is that information silos are still prevalent within many organizations. An example of this is a business using multiple process or system for:
- CNC machine code
The effort alone to maintain these separate silos can have a greater cost than the material and production of the products. We’ve found that when customers remove silos and combine as many possible processes, they experience:
- Improved accuracy
- Better visibility
- Increased raw material optimization
- Improved efficiencies
- Cost saving opportunities
The best part of my role is that I get to help companies move past these challenges through the proper use of technology. Below are some best practice areas where we can help our clients to use V6 to its full potential, and in return grow their business and increase that bottom line.
Customer Facing Documents – Estimates and Drawings
Using the estimation side of V6 to put a professional looking proposal (quote, bid estimate, tender…) into the hands of a client is a game changer. With the ability to customize the report layout to fit the look and feel of what each V6 customer is looking for, you can present yourself in the best possible light to the client. Additionally, creating the “look and feel” of your company is an easy task.
Furthermore, including a set of customer facing drawings in each proposal showing elevations and cut sections saves time.
Yes, many of you LOVE AutoCAD as your go to when it’s time to present something. The challenge with this as the default “go to” approach is that you miss the opportunity to show the client early in the sales cycle what you are proposing to do for them.
By setting up V6 to auto-generate elevations and cut sections, you not only get the information in front of your client faster, you save a ton of time by not having to create this information in AutoCAD. If you still want to use AutoCAD for final presentations, V6 has the functionality to export to .DWG files.
If you use Xref (cross reference) you can save a ton more of time by referencing latest version of V6 elevations and cut sections and dropping them right into your presentation package.
In summary, using V6 estimation and drawing output helps you increase your close rates and decreases your sales cycles.
Working with Macros
Native or shortcuts? This is a common question and discussion among our V6 customers. Some of our more experienced V6 users can find anything and everything in V6 and that’s awesome. The challenge with this is that the time it takes to gain this level of skill pushes us into that “tribal knowledge” situation mentioned above. And with the labor shortage what it is, we need a more efficient way to get new staff up to speed and, to reduce the time it takes to get things done.
Some examples of macro usage include:
- Common systems
- Common configurations
- Hardware selections
In reference to common configurations where you produce a lot of one particular layout of a product, a macro allows you to quickly and easily take that product, adjust it slightly as required and push it out. Again, there is a time saving here versus having to build the product from scratch on each occasion.
For hardware selections, I see a great benefit of setting up preconfigured hardware kits. Having pick lists for various parts and building in business intelligence so when you select a particular part, only items that go with that part still show up. Parts that conflict with it can be greyed out or, completely removed from the selection.
Setting up a reports pop up screen with only the relevant reports that are being commonly used, is another good use of macros. I recommend that our clients create columns for their reports from left to right in the order that they are used. Some examples of columns include:
- Business Intelligence
- Itemized Reporting
- Post Production Review
If you don’t already do this, pull your estimation information directly into your production. This will remove the guesswork out of the orders and the manufacturing processes. The added benefit here is not only knowing your true cost and profit but, having a one to one parity on each part of the estimate. This will give you complete visibility throughout the entire job, from estimation to manufacturing and out the door on delivery.
V6 has powerful integrated optimization on extrusions, whether you work with full bar round up, standard lengths or even custom lengths. Here you can perform a theoretical analysis on a project and understand how you can get a better yield on the raw materials. Seeing actual dollars saved on a project is a truly powerful tool.
Another area I encourage our clients to use is V6’s ability to create and manage releases on larger projects. If you have a large job, plan it into multiple releases and get it manufactured in a more efficient way. If you are not using the release capability within V6, the capability is already there to manage your production in a more efficient way. Take advantage of those tool.
Capital investment in CNC equipment and the desire to automate factories is at an all-time high. But what is all too common today is still the programming and maintaining of machining code into a stand-alone database for a machine, or group of machines. With the ability in V6 to manage this, keeping it at the machine level truly is “throwing money out the window”.
When you consider that somebody still needs to manage what each operation, each product on each extrusion needs to be, that is a ton of time and effort. And if something is setup wrong, Oops! There goes a pile of material to the waste bin.
With the ability to automate your manufacturing with CNC connectivity directly from V6, you are able to push information out to the production floor. This will eliminate the need of programming equipment separately as you’ll be working from one source of data. Additionally, since V6 is dynamically moving machining operations in the product model, the final version for production has everything needed for fabrication.
One other great advantage with V6 is that CNC automation transfers information to any piece of equipment regardless of brand, so you can get more done with less effort. Yeah, that whole labor shortage issue again.
Further touching on labor and capacity issues, with V6 Scheduling module you can know your true capacity. This will give you the power to move jobs around based on production capacity and availability by day, week and month on your manufacturing schedule.
You’ll also have access to information relating to your employee productivity. This real time data creates accountability as everyone can see who is producing and who is not. This understanding gives you the power to address staff issues and make changes to create a better workflow. This will increase capacity by working on the areas of underperformance in a way that one of those super duper Excel spreadsheets could only dream of doing.
One of the hottest discussions in 2019 is integration. More and more clients are investing in getting the good information they have in V6, talking to other areas of the business. The painful reality is that any stand-alone system costs your business time and money you can’t get back. By streamlining your business processes through integrating V6 directly into other systems, it results in better visibility, less mistakes and wastage, and better access to business intelligence.
Examples of integrations include:
Being that V6 has an open API, it’s easy to pull data from or push data to it. And because of its open nature, integrations can be done by us, your in-house team or a third party consultancy.
Get More Windows out the Door
As many of you know, our motto is “Get More Windows out the Door” and that is what we are about for you. I hope this article has been helpful in equipping you to use V6 to its full potential. Use what we have discussed above and you will be on your way to growing your business without falling hostage to labor shortages, tribal knowledge or silos of information.