Sunday, March 2, 2014

LEAN Froyo Chapter 1

I am so happy to announce that I have a new client. It has been a long time coming, About 31 years, to be exact.

I met my wife, Gloria Joan, at college. She was a soccer playing sociology major, and I was a Chemistry playing football major. We actually started dating seriously in the summer of '83. Gloria's summer job was at an ice cream shop on the Connecticut shoreline. I would pick her up when she got off work, and we would walk on the beach and talk. Even then, she used to look up at the stars, and dream about owning her own ice cream shop someday. I remember looking deep into her blue eyes, smiling, and saying, "someday, my soccer playing sociology major, you will HAVE that ice cream shop. I am your knight in shining armor."

Fast forward 29 years. That promise was haunting me. I realized, at 51 years old, if I didn't fulfill my promise soon, she would be selling ice cream in a convalescent home. Time to step up to the plate. Fast forward two more years, a bunch of money, some blood, sweat and tears. Her grand opening was yesterday. The place was mobbed. Gloria Joan cut the ribbon with the Mayor. There were face painters, balloon twisters, and a whole lot of frozen yogurt (ice cream makes people fat). She looked deep into my eyes and said, "We did it. You and I can accomplish anything together! You're my knight in shining armor!"

How romantic is that?! All that from the same guy that bought Gloria an Epilady Hair Removal System for Christmas one year!

Well, it didn't take long before the knight left and the Honey Badger from P4 Lean Strategy LLC showed up. Let's just say that as a lean sensei, you develop what we can delicately call "a healthy disrespect for the current condition". Or, put another way, never satisfied. There's always room for improvement. Her shop is a franchise, the best and largest in the world. (they will be on Undercover Boss on Friday, check it out.)

Where the average person sees smiles, laughs, and 14 different flavors (New York Style Cheesecake), I see opportunities for improvement EVERYWHERE.  Here are just 3 examples:
1. Inventory-yogurt, hot fudge, plushy dolls, fruit, nuts. For the average Joe (and Gloria), it is very re-assuring to open the freezer and walk-in cooler to see the shelves full. I see sleeping money. Tombstones on the froyo value stream map. Kanban baby.
2. Cash "drops"-every so often, you have to pull a cash register drawer and count and put excess cash in the safe. Simple? Try 45 minutes. The drawer has to match the receipts to the penny. If you're not an accountant, it takes REWORK.
3. The process of closing-the last customer says goodnight at 11. My wife pulls in the driveway at 3 am. This will definitely be the first A3 that goes on the board. OVERBURDEN. I want her home at 11:30.
4. People. My wife interviewed a hundred people, and hired 14, And she did an incredible job.  Mostly high school kids. They thought they were being hired to work a few hours a week in a froyo shop.  In reality, they were hired to make people smile! The 2nd "P" of P4 is "develop your people and partners", and THAT is exactly the mission. I want everyone of them to believe that they own the place.

Now take those 4 "examples" and multiply that by 1000, and you get the picture of what the rolodex of improvement opportunities in my head looks like. A3 closings every Friday afternoon. And that after merely "helping out" at the Grand Opening!

One of the sacred commandments that all lean champions know by heart is never bring lean home (#1 reason for divorce). Periodically, I will update you on my progress with my new client.