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Incorporating a Little Kaizen by Kevin Vinicombe

A few weeks ago I made a point of discussing our Toss/Work Loss percentage with our Design Team. Over the summer months I noticed that our percentages had been "creeping" up. Basically when those percentages go up it could mean that we are “stuffing“ the arrangements with unpaid for flowers, tossing out too many flowers (perhaps proper rotation methods are not being followed) or we are purchasing too much for our current sales volume. I was trying to find a different approach with the staff and started thinking back to similar situations in my pre-floral career. I remembered the "Kaizen" concept I learned back in college. Kaizen was a concept I had used many times before in my previous corporate life.

Loosely defined Kaizen is the Japanese word for "Improvement" or "Change for Better". It's an ongoing, continuous process that never stops and teaches us to always look for a better, more efficient way to conduct our business. The process of continuous improvement can be applied to all industry's, including the floral business. Lets face it, the floral industry is "a hybrid industry" comprised of Service, Manufacturing and Consultative all under one roof. Not a single day should go by without some kind of improvement being made somewhere in the company. Toyota is one of the leaders in the Kaizen process and among other things they promote:
  • Everyone's involvement in continuous improvement
  • All processes and areas of a company participating
  • A strong desire to eliminate waste at every step of the process
  • Small incremental improvements resulting in big results
  • Team work
  • Discipline
  • An open environment for staff suggestions
Each area of a flower shop should try to incorporate some Kaizen, as outlined above by Toyota, and make it on-going and continuous. After all, trying to do better each and every day results in a better product and service experience for our customer. Isn’t that the point of being in business - to serve the customer better? In our shop we are constantly measuring our performance against our previous best and trying to do better. We not only know what to do but now know what to call it! Kaizen!

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