In 1989, Stephen R. Covey published his landmark management book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It was an instant success and has gone on to sell more than 15 million copies in 38 languages around the world.

If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s an easy read and is packed with useful information, which is all centered around seven core habits that all successful people incorporate into their daily lives. What are those seven habits?

  1. Being proactive.
  2. Beginning with the end in mind.
  3. Putting the first thing first.
  4. Thinking win-win.
  5. Seeking first to understand and then to be understood.
  6. Looking for synergy.
  7. Sharpening the saw.

The book can provide greater context around those ideas and help you implement them to be a better shop owner and manager. All of those habits are great for managers in any industry. They got us thinking, though – what are some of the of habits of the most effective job shops? What do the most successful shops have in common?

Here at Shoptech, we work with hundreds of shops all over the country. That gives us the opportunity to see some of the different habits and processes that shops implement. It also allows us to see what works…..and what doesn’t.

Taking inspiration from Covey’s book, we’ve decided to make our own list: The 7 habits of highly effective job shops. Take a look at the list below. If you’re not implementing some of these habits and practices, it may be time to take a fresh look at your business.

Habit #1: They know how much every job costs.

Quoting is one of the most important functions in your shop. Quote too high and you risk losing the job. Quote too low and your margins may be too thin, or you may even be in the red.

The secret to accurate quoting is knowing your costs. The most effective job shops know this. They have systems in place to accurately identify every cost that goes into each job, from materials to labor to general and administrative overhead. They can then assign those costs to the job and send out a quote that gives them the margin they need to be successful.

Having the right systems in place is an important part of understanding your costs. The right job shop software can help you automate the costing process, so your costs are available with just a few clicks of the mouse. That will help you send out better quotes, win more business, and boost your margins.

Habit #2: They put the customer first.

Your relationships with your customers are among your shop’s most valuable assets. It doesn’t matter how great your facilities or equipment are or even how specialized your capabilities are, if you don’t nurture your customer relationships, you’re not going to have any products to manufacture.

The most effective shops put their customer relationships at the top of their priority list. They strive to hit customer deadlines and they stay in constant communication so their customers are never left in the dark. If the customer has an issue, the shop responds as quickly and effectively as possible.

Again, having the proper systems in place can help with this. Far too many shops want to be proactive when it comes to customer service, but they lack the organizational skills and capabilities to keep up with customer demands. A robust job shop software solution can give you the tools you need to put your customers first.

Habit #3: They prioritize quality.

There was a time when high quality could be a differentiator. These days, quality is expected. Your customers expect you to invest in quality systems and processes. They may even require you to be certified.

The most effective shops know that the competition is too steep to allow quality to slip. They’ve implemented processes and procedures to ensure that their products are consistent and high-quality. They also review their operations regularly to make sure that they’re not deviating from the system.

Habit #4: They invest in their employees.

If your customer relationships are your most valuable asset, then your employees probably run a close second. They’re the ones who are on the front lines of your production process. They have as much influence as anyone on your shop’s capacity, your ability to meet deadlines, and your commitment to quality.

Effective shops know their employees are assets and they invest in that asset to increase its value. A knowledgeable employee can identify gaps in your processes and recommend improvements. They can be trusted with more responsibility so you can focus on more important items. Most of all, if you invest in your team, they may feel less desire to leave, reducing your turnover rate. Invest in your employees to help them be as effective as possible.

Habit #5: They invest in their systems.

We’ve mentioned systems in nearly every habit so far, which should indicate just how important your systems, software, and processes are. We live in a rapidly changing time. New technology and software have the ability to automate your business, reduce labor needs, and ultimately increase your bottom line.

The most successful shops are always on the lookout for new technology that will make them more efficient and more competitive. When a machine breaks down, they don’t see a major problem; rather, they see an opportunity to improve. They’re constantly looking for ways to invest in new technology to bring incremental improvement to their shop.

Habit #6: They delegate.

Even the most effective leader can’t do it all on his or her own. To reach your goals and take your shop to the next level, you need to have a team you can trust. The most effective job shops make delegation an integral part of their day-to-day business. By delegating tasks to managers and shop floor workers, the shop’s leaders are able to focus on bigger items that will grow the business.

Again, having the right software can help you delegate. You can use job shop software to delegate items to team members and then track the progress of the task online. That way, you can push the task off your plate, but still make sure it gets done. Master the art of delegation and you’ll see the results in your shop’s effectiveness.

Habit #7: They proactively market themselves.

Effective shops are confident in their quality, their service, and their strengths. They aren’t afraid to let the world know how great they are and they look for every possible channel and market to tell their story.

The good news is that you have more channels than ever to market your shop’s capabilities. You can use social media, online advertising, your blog, trade shows, direct mail, traditional sales people, and much, much more. Marketing may not be your strength, but it’s essential if you want to become a successful shop.

What’s the common thread through most of these habits? Systems. To makes something a habit, you have to do it every day. That’s tough to do when you’re still operating out of spreadsheets, notebooks, and files of paper documents.