Building a Culture of First Time Right (Controltek)

Who has the time to do the same job twice? That’s right-no one. This rather simple insight lead the leadership of CONTROLTEK to make “First Time Right” the cornerstone of their business. “We believe that it’s no longer enough to do the job right for the customer-everyone expects that,” said Dave Hardeman, the company’s director of client solutions delivery. “To truly deliver value, we have to save every minute of a client’s time possible, which lead us to the concept of First Time Right. It started in our installations team and spread quickly through the rest of the company. With this approach, we were able to not just delight our customers but also improve internal efficiencies, drive our costs down, and pass the savings to our clients.”

Dave Hardeman

First Time Right in Action

According to Hardeman, the concept is pretty easy to understand but trickier to implement. “The focus for installers used to be to get to the job site, install the system according to specifications, and call it the day. But this is a fire-ready-aim approach. We start by asking the client what First Time Right means for them-how they envision a successful rollout of their new systems. And it can be surprising how different answers can be. We then write the plan and define key performance indicators (KPIs) together with the client.”

For one retail chain, Hardeman explained, the focus was on the aesthetics. The new RFID systems were expected to work as promised, of course, but the number one priority was that they had to blend in with the store’s overall look. “So in addition to working with the retailer’s LP team, we also engaged their merchant team. We brought in a designer to work on the project with us and shared the drawings and concepts with the merchants to make sure that what we were doing was in line with their brand guidelines. The result was a very happy merchant team and a very happy LP team-two groups of people with different goals.”

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At the same time, CONTROLTEK was preparing a large EAS systems rollout with another retailer that had a very different philosophy. “Their focus,” said Hardeman, “was on visual deterrence, so it was almost the opposite from the other retailer. This client wanted to maximize the visibility of the solutions we were installing, so our team members with LP backgrounds worked directly with the client’s LP team to develop guidelines and schematics of how the finished installation should look.” This project was a smashing success too. “If we treated these two projects the same, we would not have had happy clients. In our minds the installations would have been completed as promised if the systems worked, but in the clients’ minds they would have been a failure if their additional requirements were not met.”

Steve Sell

The Unintended Benefits

Steve Sell, CONTROLTEK’s vice president of global sales and marketing, saw wider benefits of this approach. “Dave and his team saved our clients tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary service visits through their First Time Right focus. This made a tremendous positive impact in our client relationships, so it only made sense to make First Time Right a strategic initiative across our entire organization.”

Sell explained that each team was asked to define its own metrics around First Time Right. Employees were encouraged to apply critical thinking about their daily tasks, come up with ideas, and discuss them among themselves. “The results were dramatic. Our operations department, for example, reworked their order processing workflows to focus on getting every order right the first time, on time. This reduced the need to ship overnight by 47 percent, driving our shipping costs down. Our finance team retooled the policies for booking travel and introduced new apps that significantly reduced our travel costs. Perhaps my favorite First Time Right initiative was the one that had to do with email-we asked employees that instead of automatically hitting the ‘reply all’ button, they take a moment to think about who really needs to read the email. With this, we reduced internal emails by almost 30 percent, saving immeasurable time in lost productivity.”

According to Sell, spreading the culture of First Time Right had a transformational impact on the whole company. “Better internal efficiencies made us an operationally excellent organization from top to bottom, and we put ownership of that mission in the hands of every employee.”

A Viral Concept?

To keep the client in the loop and allow for real-time feedback, CONTROLTEK developed a proprietary technology that provides full transparency of the project to the customer. According to Hardeman, this also resulted in clients developing new best practices based on the First Time Right approach. “One client asked us to play an active part in their regional training. We developed a video-based training program, allowing personnel to become certified in the use of the new shrink management system, and improved the in-store compliance as the result. With another client we developed a training module to prepare store associates for the arrival of our technicians. This resulted in a drastic reduction of miscommunication and second visits. We even had an instance where our finance team got together with the client’s to set up the invoice process so that it works for both organizations.”

For Hardeman, First Time Right is ultimately about delivering results. “C.S. Lewis once said, ‘The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does and whoever he is.’ At the very core of First Time Right at CONTROLTEK is the quest to dedicate each of our minutes to listening with intent, planning with purpose, and delivering uniformly and consistently with integrity-every time. In doing so, our next minutes will not be consumed with correcting mistakes. Instead, they will be open for us to focus on presenting our very best in products and support services to our clientele.”

SIDEBAR: CONTROLTEK’s Mechanisms for Ensuring First Time Right Delivery

  • Professional CAD designs and drawings that provide details to meet the requirements for approved placement of technology solutions
  • Customized packaging and delivery options to significantly reduce lost or delayed product shipments
  • Audit process formats that offer a consistent data tracking and measurement approach
  • Scope of work frameworks designed to enhance the services of third-party vendors working with or near CONTROLTEK products
  • Network mapping and secure interface management reference documentation that respect the connectivity safety concerns of information services
  • Video tutorials designed to enrich the understanding of CONTROLTEK products and their overall purpose

 

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