is the most demanding job in any shop.
Finishing follows a very strict sequence of events, many having
is almost no tolerance for error, and when there is an error it
might not show up until 3 to 6 months later, after the project
have to fix or hide other peopleís mistakes & oversights
someone elseís job takes longer than planned, then that time is
subtracted from the finishing schedule
are totally at the mercy of the weather
work in a smelly, caustic, explosive atmosphere
work is almost completely done by hand Ė we have no CNCís or
other labor saving tools.
tool budgets are usually the smallest. Most companies will spend
more on an edgebander or wide belt sander than they will on
their entire finishing department.
of the technical information finishers have about finishing is
usually learned by word of mouth at they last shop they worked
at Ögood, bad, or otherwise.
than any other group in your shop the finishers will make or
break your bottom line
Quo - Donít Rock the Boat
many companies simply expect or accept that the finishing
department will fail or loose money. If you look at the grand
scheme of things, you would expect business to demand the exact
opposite, especially for something as important to the
customer and your profitability as the finish.
Your finish should be a major selling point
for your product. Letís face it, the finish is the first part of
your job that your customer sees and touches. Observe a customer
the next time they walk into your showroom or you hand them a
sample. What do they doÖthey rub their hand on it. This simple
act alone is a starting point in the customer ranking the
quality of your companyís products.
Custom shops should take a cue from the Big
Box stores. Next time you are in one look at their cabinet
displays. They sport some very sophisticated multi-step
finishes. Most of these fancy finishes are on casework
construction that many custom companies would consider as being
inferior. The mentality of the Big Box, however, is that it is
not so much the case construction, dovetailed drawers or high
tech hardware that sells cabinets, it is the finish. They have
seen the light. Finishes sell cabinetry. This is a fact.
Finishing should also be a profit
generating operation. The finish department operates with the
smallest investment in tools and equipment, usually occupies the
smallest floor space and normally assumes the smallest material
cost per job.
Once you acknowledge the importance of the
finishing process the more likely you to invest in it. Doesnít
it make sense that you spend some time and money on what should
be one of the most profitable and marketable features of your
Many companies operate under the ďIf it
ainít broke, donít fix itĒ rule when it comes their finishing
department. I hear the ďthis is the way we have done it for
years and we donít have any problemsĒ as the standard response
when someone is asked why they do something a certain way.
The ďif it ainít broke donít fix itĒ theory
only holds true if you are sure that it ainít broke. There was a
consumer survey that found that 90% of product failures are not
reported back to the manufacturer. We have all been in the
situation where we were disappointed in something and rather
than contact the manufacturer we just said that we would simply
never buy that product or brand again. Donít think that this
canít happen to your products. You could have failures out there
that are waiting to happen Remember, it might take 3-6 months
for some finish problems to materialize.
The other thing to remember is just because
it ainít broke doesnít mean itís working as efficiently as it
could be. Even a clock that is stopped will still give you the
correct time twice a day. Companies that are the most successful
are companies that are never completely satisfied with their
success. They question their success and then they strive to be
better. So the first step towards improving your operation is
recognizing the need to improve.
Major Reasons that Finishing Departments Donít Make Money
Quality problems - re-work time
Process inefficiencies - too many steps
or poor work flow
Poor pricing - underestimating what it
takes to do the job
Sales process - fulfilling customer
Material costs - cheaper is not always
Safety and compliance - it is cheaper
to fix it before it breaks
1. Most people want
to do a good job. They get frustrated when they are not
given the opportunity or tools to do so.
2. People adjust
their process or techniques to make a bad situation work.
3. Humans are
creatures of habit. We feel comfortable with what we know
and mistrust things that are new. We are resistant to
4. If you donít
recognize and address the first 3 items you will never be