It might seem like filling out a materials order would be relatively simple, but anyone who has done it long enough will tell you that there are myriad things that can go wrong. Transpose a number and you end up with the wrong color cabinets, costing you hundreds, perhaps thousands. Leave something off the order and you end up losing several days while waiting for it to show up.
Nearly a decade ago, Max Isley (Big50 2000), president of Hampton Kitchens, in Wake Forest, N.C., decided he'd had enough of the wasted time and money such errors caused. So he and his wife and business partner, Lynn Snow, added extra steps to their pre-production system to prevent these mistakes.
Once an order is completed, but prior to its being sent to manufacturers, Snow checks it against all the job paperwork to make sure that what is being ordered is what was approved and signed off on by the client. Snow's eyes are fresh to the job at this point, and therefore more likely to catch a missing or inverted number.
The second layer of caution involves Snow and Isley sitting across a table from one another (Isley currently handles all the selling at his company, but in the past, this was done with other salespeople). Snow reads the order line by line, and Isley physically checks off each item as it's read, while making sure it's completely correct.
It often isn't. “I'd say that on a good 75% of our jobs, we find some item — no matter how small — that needs to be clarified or corrected,” Isley says.
The final step comes once the acknowledgement of the order comes back from the manufacturer. Isley and Snow then sit down and repeat the process one final time.
If it seems like a pain the neck, well, it is. “I absolutely despise checking the acknowledgement,” Isley says. “By this time, I'm so tired of the project, I don't even want to think about it until we're ready to build it.” But it's a necessary evil, so he does it.
“I'm amazed at how many people don't check their acknowledgements,” Isley says. To those people, this system of triple-checking probably seems like overkill. But, says Isley, “the most money you make on a job is the day it's sold. From there, the only direction it can go is down. To maximize your profit, keep the number of errors you make down.”