Well, from what I can tell, the busy season is coming early this year. Door and window sales usually take a dip in July and August, as the summer season and vacation plans take hold. But this year is different. It appears that many people have cancelled or downsized their summer vacation plans due to virus concerns and are instead spending their money on home improvement. So, when it comes to door and window sales, we are seeing a sharp uptick. Such is also the case with stress!

“This is one of the most stressful years I have ever experienced as a business owner,” explains one of my top customers. “We went from a situation a few months ago of feeling this year would become a complete disaster to the current situation of having so many orders that we just cannot keep up with the demand. We are short on people and there are constraints on incoming raw materials as well. Yet, we are reluctant to extend our lead times because we have built the foundation of our business around prompt delivery.

So how do we get through these trying times? Here are four key factors to focus on.

  1. Appreciate the challenge. I keep telling everyone that having more business than one can currently handle is far better than the alternative. There is good stress and then there is bad stress. I consider the current situation good stress. So, rise up to the occasion. Maintain and foster a positive attitude from the top all the way down through every management channel in the organization. Encourage new ideas and reward progress handsomely.
  2. Arm your management staff with the best human resource (HR) professional or agency that you can. Do not try to solve the manpower shortage on your own. If you currently do not have an in-house HR expert, then hire one or use an outside agency to find you the people that you need. HR is one of the most important disciplines that door and window companies need right now. Do not expect a production manager or plant manager to do double duty as an HR manager. You need a dedicated person or even a department (in the case of larger companies) to find, hire and, most importantly, keep a company’s most valuable resource: people. Rate your company’s desirability as an employer. Does your company attract top-notch workers, or the ones that struck out at the local fast food restaurant? Is your workplace environment safe, clean and organized? Is your management staff flexible and supportive or rigid and over demanding?
  3. Keep your equipment in top running shape. Do you have a preventative maintenance (PM) program, or do you simply wait for equipment to break down or reject rates to peak before you grease the wheels? Invest in back ups for key pieces of equipment that you cannot afford to go without for even a few days. Used equipment can be found at bargain prices so it is always a good idea to invest in an extra welder, corner cleaner or even a spare IG sealant pump. Expect the unexpected!
  4. Invest in new equipment now for 2021. Whatever your new equipment needs may be, now is the time to get it on order. Lead times on new equipment are already at six to eight months in many cases, so it is only going to get worse as the year progresses and equipment suppliers get even more backed up. Consider automation wherever possible especially if manpower staffing remains an issue. If you have a revolving door situation, constantly having to hire and train new people puts a huge drag on your resources. It also results in poor quality.

The uptick in demand that we are currently seeing is definitely welcome. Yet the momentum on the production floor, which came to a screeching halt only several months ago, is now tough to regain. So, focus on these four key areas and we will get this train back on track and ready for a “full steam ahead” run for the balance of the year. Yes, 2020 may turn out to be a pretty decent year after all!

1 Comment

  1. Nice article Jim !

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