I took my car to be cleaned today. ‘So what?’ I hear you thinking….

There were two reasons for visiting this particular car wash today: 1) my car was dirty, and 2) I really wanted to get a closer look at the operations of what appears to be a thriving little business, one that local people queue to use.

I had been asking myself why this car wash is so popular and why it stands out from the crowd. They must be doing something right, and I wanted a closer look at the process.

Operations management is all about processes, about planning the most efficient way of transforming the ‘input resources’ to result in the ‘output product or service’ that the customer buys.

And it is that transformational process that so fascinated me. This was so much more than getting my car cleaned!

So, the input resources were my dirty car, the water, the products such as shampoos, wax, chamois leathers etc and the staff themselves.

The process was a sequential chain of micro operations that I drove slowly through as the staff descended on my car, up to 5 or 6 at a time – quite an achievement when you see the size of my car. Each had a specific role to play, before waving me on to the next step in the process. At one point I counted a chain of 15 cars, each at a different stage of the operational process.

The output was a gleaming car, inside and out, and a delighted customer, happy to hand over the £14 fee, for 14 minutes of theatre.

And that is what it was. It was a well-rehearsed performance of theatre or ballet, meticulously choreographed, so that each individual had their own steps to perform, playing their part just at the right time, not a second being lost to hesitation or duplication. The teamwork was phenomenal.

It was a masterclass in efficiency of operations planning, which we could all replicate in our own businesses. Breaking the whole operational activity down into clearly defined and simplified steps, each stage carried out efficiently by the human resource, resulted in a seamless end-to-end business process, fulfilling the customers’ needs.

Those who know me have often heard me say that it is having the right systems and processes in place within your business that will ensure success in getting your product or service to market. Obviously it helps to have the right product or service too, but a great product needs to be supported by an efficient process to ensure the key output is a happy customer.

Thank you D&T Hand Car Wash, it truly was a pleasure doing business with you.