Eliminating Friction Helps Press the Easy Button

BKBG Business Blog,

Friction, whether in the form of convoluted processes, confusing jargon, or inefficient workflows, can lead to existing and prospective customers, team members, and trade partners seeking alternatives for their kitchen and bath projects. We've all experienced the frustration of navigating endless voice mail options when trying to solve a problem or obtain information, wishing for the opportunity to speak with a human being. 

Identifying and addressing sources of friction within your showroom is crucial for providing a seamless and enjoyable experience. Stanford University professors Huggy Rao and Bob Sutton's book, "The Friction Project: How Smart Leaders Make the Right Things Easier and the Wrong Things Tougher," offers valuable guidance. 

Reducing friction in a kitchen and bath showroom starts at the top. Great leaders adopt a "trustee mindset," viewing themselves as stewards of others' time. Showroom owners with this mindset scrutinize all processes to ensure they make the best use of everyone's time. They question the necessity of meetings, considering which ones can be eliminated or condensed. Sara Hines of Kitchen World exemplifies this approach. She believes that if customers want to select product, they would go to a home center. In her showroom, designers make all product selections for their clients based on client input, streamlining the decision-making process and minimizing time wasted on tasks like selecting cabinet knobs or floor coverings.  Almost all of the time, clients unanimously approve the designers’ recommendations. 

Embracing the "less is more" principle, or adopting a "subtraction mindset," is another key to eliminating friction. Human nature often leads us to overcomplicate processes, yet simplification efforts are rarely incentivized. The authors cite Hawaii Pacific Medical's "Get Rid of Stupid Stuff" campaign as a proactive effort to reduce complexity. Team members contributed nearly 200 ideas to simplify or eliminate processes, including eliminating the requirement for nurses to click on a mouse for every patient during rounds, saving 1,700 hours of nursing time. 

Avoiding industry jargon is another proven method for reducing friction. Terms like "full overlay," "partial overlay," "frame," or "frameless" cabinets can confuse or frustrate clients and prospects. Using clear, straightforward language ensures a smooth communication flow. 

While some friction, such as obtaining building permits or complying with regulations, may be unavoidable, effective leaders become "friction fixers," adept at navigating and resolving messy problems and challenges. 

As a trustee of others' time, multitasking is essential to keep your team focused on meeting project deadlines and performance expectations while simultaneously troubleshooting issues and resolving conflicts. Collaborate with your team and past clients to identify and implement strategies for reducing friction within your showroom, creating a seamless and enjoyable experience for all.