From file "032_PSs" entitled "PSNWDM06.qxd" page 01
From file "032_PSs" entitled "PSNWDM06.qxd" page 01

Last month I compared two of our operations to demonstrate the impact that a few details can make; specifically, how teamwork can make all the difference in the success of specialized tasks. In addition to the importance of staff solidarity, the success of installed sales also can depend on how well employees understand the program as well as their individual roles within it.

Often, misunderstanding occurs when the outside sales force isn't in tune with the installed operation and its role within the company. Often, the reps view “them” (the installed sales employees) as a separate part of the company, as in “us against them.” This happens despite the fact that most outside sales reps are extremely well-versed in construction operations, and in some cases were builders themselves. As a result, the reps are not out there aggressively selling installed sales.

This can cause problems in scheduling jobs, over-promising service, and in mishandling opportunities for increased sales. Some installed sales managers that I've spoken with have told me that they never see or hear from the sales force, never run into them on jobsites, and rarely communicate with them. That means that the installed sales manager is responsible for sales, scheduling, and account maintenance, along with all other aspects of the installed operation. In essence, the manager is another general contractor with too much to do, not enough time to get it done, and too many people depending on the job being completed on schedule.

A better, more efficient operation is set up this way: The installed sales manager's primary responsibility is jobsite and production management. Another individual works in the store, taking care of ordering materials and administrative duties. The outside sales force fully understands not only what your installed sales capabilities are, but how the operation works—and they ensure that every bid or proposal includes installed options. And, finally, the operations department ensures that deliveries are on time and complete. This scenario is an example of teamwork at its best; by eliminating misunderstanding, the program will run more efficiently.

In addition, your office staff can easily handle the administrative chores of an installed operation. This frees up valuable time for the installed sales manager to supervise the installers and manage job-site efficiencies. The operations staff also comes into play. When I was a consultant, one of my clients told me that after he did a careful customer review one year, he discovered that his installed sales operation was his fifth-largest customer. Would you deliver product late to one of your larger accounts? Make them load their own trucks? Short the deliveries with an “it doesn't matter” attitude? Of course not. Nor should you allow this attitude within your operations area toward installed sales.

Everyone in your organization has a job to do. Your job is to ensure that what they are doing is indeed what they should be doing, rather than trying to be all things to all people. Ask yourself this: What are you good at? What are your people good at? My grandfather used to say, “Half of being smart is in knowing what you're dumb at.” If you want your operation to succeed, one person can't do everything.

Mike Butts is director of installation services for United Building Centers. 507.457.8453. E-mail: