ALMCO has started to prepare our next 3-year strategic plan. Much time and effort goes into creating this plan as we are always striving to make ALMCO better. In preparation, I have read the previous plans from the last 10 years and it is interesting to see the changes. There are many strategic initiatives that have been successfully implemented over the years and a few that seem to return now and then. Over my 33 years at ALMCO, it seems that communication has been in the spotlight several times. I would like to discuss this important part of successful business transactions.
Communication has been noted by various strategic planning committees over the years. Sometimes it is between departments, sometimes within departments and sometimes between ALMCO and our customers, distributors or suppliers. Lack of communication causes issues in nearly every case. Last year, our management team identified that there was a need for improved communication in our order entry process. We decided it was time to implement some new policies and procedures. These things were being done, but without format or consistency.
These are some of the changes we made:
- Pre-quote meetings to make sure that the process we developed was what our customer wanted.
- Project kick-off meetings via conference call or video conference to go over the order to make sure that what was ordered matches what is needed to achieve the desired results. This is also a time to confirm the simple things that cause problems later like voltage and machine color.
- Regular design meetings during the engineering phase of the project. This helps us to be sure that all parts of the equipment fit the need and space. These can occur several times during the same project depending on the project size.
- Equipment run-off. This was done in-person in the past but is typically done via video today due to travel restrictions. This is the opportunity for our customers to see the equipment working and see the results first-hand. Any simple change requests are often handled while the run-off is still taking place.
The result of these policies is that our process development has improved, our machine designs are meeting expectations without rework after the run-off and the design meeting help us to tailor the equipment to the customer’s needs. Another benefit is that we have been able to switch to video run-off’s with little effort when the need arose from the pandemic.
Communication is important. At ALMCO, we listen, and I promise we will respond quickly and honestly.