We are not always ready. Yes, we said it.
They say a person is either ready or they’re not. This is a fallacy. Does an Olympic runner sleep in his running shoes in case he is awakened and told to race? Or does he train regularly to be ready for race day?
Being ready to us means having buildings that are structurally safer than our homes. It means having our checklist ready for the unpredictable. It means anticipating customer needs. It means being almost always ready.
“When you tell a customer that you can do with 50 people what they do with 600 people, they get nervous,” comments NATEL’s President and CEO Sudesh Arora. “We have excess capacity – equipment, benches, floor space, buildings, and people – to address customer concerns. And once we are able to achieve the efficiencies we planned on, we have that excess capacity ready for the next challenge. But now we also have more experience and the satisfaction of having accomplished a difficult task.” This formula has been applied over the past decades and has been instrumental to NATEL’s reputation for readiness.
A few years ago, a NATEL customer had a supplier problem. They were losing their secondary source and the remaining supplier increased their price 4X, causing our customer’s finished product to be less competitive in the marketplace. NATEL acquired the technology by buying Thin Film Concepts and invested in developing the personnel and processes to ramp up production. The customer was able to use our development to renegotiate the pricing with their primary supplier to a competitive level. While we never sold a production part from that line, we were at the ready for the customer.
Being prepared for the unpredictable – a supplier disappearing or a natural disaster occurring – is resourceful. Standing outside with a hose in the rain just in case a fire comes is not an efficient use of resources. For our Ceramics Plant, this rings especially true.
For NATEL Carlsbad on May 14, 2014, the instant smoke entered our HVAC system we evacuated. We began calling our employees and their emergency contacts. We had a list of customers and open deliveries. We coordinated with our other plants to see how quickly they could meet those customer shipments. We looked for necessary equipment and made arrangements for replacements in case the worst-case scenario happened.
At NATEL, one thing went wrong that day.
The employee emergency contact list was not up to date. Problem uncovered…but how do we fix that? Do we ask our employees every day if their contact info is current? That is what we call being always ready, which isn’t an efficient use of resources.
Instead, we communicated the importance of having current contact information and added an SOP that defines both a call in number and web address. This information is printed onto each badge. In case of evacuation, management would record directions and employees would access via phone or web.
Since this fire, we now have one more way to be almost always ready. NATEL Carlsbad has made up all lost schedules and sales have increased by 15%.
We may not be always ready, but being almost always ready seems to be working for our employees, customers, and community.
Join the discussion below.
Are you always ready or almost always ready?
How has being always ready hurt your bottom line?