How to Really Solve Business Problems, Not Just Patch Them

Owning a security guard business means putting out a lot of fires — an unhappy customer who is missing an incident report, an invoice that is 90 days past due, and a field supervisor position you need to fill hanging over it all. It is easy to get stuck in a cycle of putting out fires, but that makes it hard to actually move your business forward and grow.

I was recently introduced to W. Edwards Deming’s 14 Points of Management and have become a huge fan of those principles, especially No. 5. Principle No. 5 states “Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.” If you find yourself fixing the same problems over and over, it’s time to follow the fifth principle and to develop a process to address it, rather than reacting to it repeatedly. Here’s how to put that principle in action in your company.

Analyze the Underlying Problem

w. edward demingTo establish a process, you first need to carefully examine the problem it is meant to solve. But doing so can be difficult — because when an issue arises, you want to solve it now, not take added time to contemplate it. A customer on the other end of the line saying an officer hasn’t shown up for a shift means dropping everything that you’re doing to get someone to the site, for example.

But once you put out that fire, take some time to think back over the past few weeks or months and look for patterns in the problem that you’ve just solved. Do customers call often about officers skipping their shifts? Or do officers skip shifts only for this particular client? Whatever patterns you identify will give you the “system of production or service” that Deming encourages us to improve.

Develop a Process That Solves the Root Issue

Once you have identified the problem, it makes no sense for you as the business owner to serve as the on-call fixer every time it happens. Instead you will need to put together the steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

To some extent, your process will depend on the size and culture of your business. An operations manager could field and troubleshoot issues like no-shows, for example. Alternatively you might put a system of on-call officers in place.  Other companies might find it more effective to establish a better candidate screening program to ensure new hires are conscientious and dedicated to customer service. You might find that your entire deployment process needs improvement. No matter the solution, look for ways to minimize or eliminate recurrence of the problem, rather than simply establishing a process for reacting to it.

Expand Process Development to Other Areas

Developing a process isn’t just for solving recurring hassles; providing an excellent service relies on established processes, no matter what your business is. Once you have started adopting processes to address recurring problems, you can move on to the rest of Deming’s 14 points, many of which rely on establishing processes to improve the way you do business and prepare for unseen issues.

Identifying the steps to improvement takes time and effort. But in the long run it will save you time, money and effort to do so, rather than leave you reacting to issues as they arise.

What kinds of processes have you put in place at your organization? What inspired you to adopt them? How did you make it happen?




By Courtney Sparkman

OfficerReports.com logoOfficerReports.com is a software company that provides security guard companies with an easy way to monitor their officers, better manage their operations, and win new business. Take a tour of our software to see how we combine Electronic Reporting, Real-Time GPS based Tour Tracking, and GPS based Clock In and Out into one easy to use platform.

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