Routine Standardization (Part 6)

Doug Bellamy / January 2017

Routine Standardization means that you have abandoned the typical approach. You are developing and implementing your own unique approach, which is unlike your competitor’s approach. Instead, you have your own proprietary system in place for doing what you do. I am reminded of Apple’s “differentiation strategy” summed up in the words “Think Different.” Apple has a generic strategy that is “broad differentiation” focusing on specific features that differentiate the company and its products from competitors. RS requires that you do the same thing.
Can a drywall business follow in Apple’s footsteps? Can you lay out an overall strategy, doing things different like Apple and UPS and any number of other great businesses? Can you discover new ways of doing old things? The answer is yes. Absolutely! In fact, if you intend to be anything other than mundane and ho-hum, you must.
I know of drywall companies that have developed their own unique way of doing business through Routine Standardization. Businesses like these continually pioneer and explore. They settle when they settle, until it’s time to move. In other words, when they determine a particular position on any activity, they are (for the time being) dug in. That is the way they do what they do on the whole, until they determine it’s time to move, change and or adjust. They are simultaneously close-minded and open-minded. They stick with their decisions; nevertheless, they remain open to change. They stay in that constant dichotomy.
Over time these companies become nearly unrecognizable when compared to the norms of their industry. They consistently evolve in some way, shape or form. New hires are confronted with a distinct difference when it comes to approach, strategy and company culture. New management, coming in from the outside (which is rare since they typically promote from within), are temporarily lost in a labyrinth of different ways of thinking and doing. If they are to survive, they adjust, or inevitably they are eliminated. Underneath, these companies have people who “think different” like Apple, and it’s apparent on the surface. The difference can be startling when compared to competitors. They do what others say can’t be done in ways that others rarely imagine.
One such company focuses on a proactive approach to the extent that their first department on site confirms with the customer any inspection dates, scrap and debris removal dates, completion date and the paint date. Beyond a myopic perspective on their department, the first department on site represents the entire organization. Their first objective is to tell the customer everything they need to know before they even have a chance to ask. Answering all the typical questions goes a long way toward putting the customer at ease and helping customers avoid the all too typical information chase and related stress, confusion or mistaken assumptions.
In order to schedule, the company has provided its representative with an AS (auto-scheduler), which automates the scheduling process, factoring weekends and holidays out and providing the rep with the key dates needed to complete the specific project. Prior to developing and utilizing that tool, occasional mistakes were made by counting holidays inadvertently and committing to shorter time frames. AS eliminates the potential for that to happen.
The dates are entered on a form called a CDW (completion date worksheet). The CDW lists the key increments of work needed to complete the project, and the critical path dates are entered for the specific tasks needed. Once the customer signs the CDW, they are provided a copy and another copy is sent back to the office. The office enters the information on a master schedule and forwards it, circulating it throughout the various departments companywide, alerting and notifying everyone that they have commenced work as an organization on a particular project. The schedule also shows what the respective dates are for each department to start and complete their portion. Accounts receivable is copied as well, allowing them to anticipate time frames for billing, speeding payment of receivables. A single group email notifies the department heads throughout the entire organization, prompting them to prepare and act.
Consequently, without a single phone call everyone involved is notified and standing by or, better yet, preparing to execute as flawlessly as possible. There are zero surprises. This puts both customer and company literally on the same page and quickly resolves any confusion regarding deadlines. Any dispute as to the agreed upon schedule is quickly resolved simply by referring to the signed CDW.
So then, how was this system developed and why? How well was it received? More importantly, how well does it work now that it has been fully implemented? As I understand it, it was a tough sell at the onset. There was the intimidation of making a commitment and putting it in writing, the discomfort in getting the customer to sign the document. These issues had to be overcome and done so in an environment where the system was unproven. I’ll get into the answers to those questions next month. I think you’ll be impressed with the specifics.

Doug Bellamy is former president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif. He is known for his original thought, innovative approach and the personal development of unique processes, systems and procedures. He is available for consultation, business management seminars and training. Visit him on LinkedIn or contact him at