Detail Oriented

“Focusing on details” is often the difference between being above average, mediocre, and extremely successful. Details are imperative for a thriving business and personal success. The more you delve into the finer details, the more you understand its significance and its advantages. As business, detail oriented means the practice of exercising close attention to all the small particulars of operation including production, customer service, financial activities, dealing with suppliers, management system and other related things. 

As individuals, detail-oriented people focus on the small facets of a task or project. They are known to be accurate, organized, thorough and productive.  

What does it mean?

  • A detailed oriented business meticulously monitors all factors of production to keep improving on their system, by finding hidden issues and devising timely solutions.
  • They scrutinize every aspect of the business to analyze the organizations direction, growth and fix errors which could lead to bigger problems.
  • For example, in 2012, the city of Santa Clara, California struggled to fix a two-word mistake on their November ballot which could cost a Silicon Valley water district more than half a billion dollars. 
  •  According to the election laws, summaries allowed were only 75 words, but they proposed a summary of 77 words. 
  • The $548 million could have cost the local water district important processes such as to provide for flood protection, maintain the water supply and reduce toxins in waterways. 

Importance of being detail oriented

1. Finding problems

  • Detailed oriented companies are constantly scrutinizing information related to different areas, which often means finding problems they did not know existed.
  • They are constantly asking questions regarding their operations, relationship with clients and their management processes.
  • Meetings become a crucial way of analyzing and managing every detail that comes across on daily basis.

2. Repeat business

  • Learning clients can help bring in more businesses. 
  • If a company is not paying close attention to the little things such as their clients changing preference, outside forces, trends could lead to bigger mistakes later.
  • Many companies prefer to gather data through surveys, feedbacks, discussions, or online data.

3. Saves Money

  • Being detailed oriented means monitoring every aspect of the business. Most businesses place far more time on businesses activities related to revenue and profits.
  • Detailed oriented companies examine their financials periodically and find areas they can save money. They are not only bothered with increasing revenue but also cost cutting non-essentials. 
  • For example, a bank recognizing high costs of paper use in its operation and the associated cost of paper waste to the environment decides to move to paperless statements, letters, notification in -house and for communication with their clients.   

4. Saves time

  • Organizing details can help save time as businesses put systems in place which help them work quickly and efficiently. They waste less time as they do not have to scramble looking for things that they need for important tasks. 
  • Developing systems addressing specific tasks and involving automation can save hundreds of employees each year.  They even help in proving productivity by making the best use of time available. 

5. Constant improvements

  • Detailed-oriented companies are constantly improving. For example, Walmart became one of the biggest retailers in the world by being detailed oriented.  
  • 90%of Americans live within a 15 miles radius of a Walmart store which makes them most accessible.
  • They pioneered in getting detailed product information electronically attached to products so that their inventory management system receives timely data.
  • Information such as point of sales data, real time sales, warehouse inventory data are stored in a centralized database for timely use. 

Case studies

Many companies have built successful empires by focusing on details. In this section we take look at two such companies

1. FedEx

  • FedEx is the world’s leading express company with service from package pickup to final delivery. Its air freight network is the world’s largest continuous flow process, allowing it to provide fast and reliable delivery to its customers. 
  • A continuous flow system is the act of moving goods through the business process from beginning to finish without stopping.  
  • The company offers package delivery to over 220 countries with a reliability of greater than 99%.

How do they do it?

  • The company uses COSMOS (Customer operations master on-line system), which is a computerized package tracking system that monitors every phase of the delivery cycle. Their employees constantly feed information into the system. 
  • Once a customer hands over a request, the customer service representative feeds the shipping information alerting the closest dispatcher for pick-ups. The information is further entered by the dispatchers using small assisted dispatch computer systems in their courier van. 
  • Scans are performed at time of time of pick-up, arrival at the origin station, at the final station and at delivery. All this data is entered into the system and transmitted to the customer. 
  • This data even helps the customer service to be on top of data incase the customer seeks to enquire further. 

Efficient system

  • The FedEx aircrafts do not fly direct but pass through their hubs placed strategically around the globe. They use satellite to ground level operation system to figure out the fastest route. And utilize NASA weather data and artificial intelligence to plot alternative routes incase of weather disruptions. 
  • These hubs are positioned at passenger-light airports and large infrastructure to accommodate many aircrafts. At these hubs, each night over thousands of workers sort over million packages with focus on continuous flow process. 
  • The packages are sorted using conveyor lines and using automated system sent to the correct airport for loading. 
  • The highly detailed yet efficient gives FedEx a competitive advantage over their competitors and keeps them improving
  • Another result of their detailed oriented system is their pricing model which moved from weight to space leading to increased yields. 

2. McDonalds

  • McDonalds became a leader in the fast food industry by a focus on competition, customer service and marketing. They closely monitor all the metrics to track the organizations direction and growth. 
  • The fast food company generated a total revenue of $21 billion in 2019. It has grown to about 38,000 restaurants globally and serve close to 70 million customer per day.  

How do they do it?

  • Their operations competitive strategy concentrates on cost, speed, nutrition, and customer satisfaction
  • McDonalds concentrates on a high level of cleanliness, especially bathrooms. They want their customers to feel they are in a clean and orderly environment. Even the employees are always required to be dressed in smart uniforms.
  • Their staff are urged to be friendly while providing service with a smile.

Efficient system

  • They focus on shorter wait time and hot food, which is achieved through a factory line assembly design in their commercial kitchen. It can reduce serving time from 20 minutes to 30 seconds.
  • The drive-thru is another example of detailed oriented action to reduce the wait time for its customer which includes a window to pay and order, and the second window to get the food quick. 
  • McDonalds finds ways to offer affordable prices over time. Examples are the self-service kiosks and employing cheap labor. 
  • To cut prices down further, the restaurant chain purchases high levels of their inputs such as potatoes, chicken etc. And their loyalty program motivates their suppliers to develop and create new innovative products and processes, which further reduces prices. 
  • Probably the main reason for their sustained growth, is the implementation of their franchise model which provides consistent experience for their customers no matter the location. This necessitated attention to detail such as same set-up, process, and taste. 

Becoming Detail oriented

Getting the details right is crucial for a prosperous business, now more than ever. Below we look at ways a company becomes detail oriented. 

1. Streamlined systems

  • Businesses use dozens of processes every day. A streamlined process means making smaller number errors and delays. 
  • Using consistent measures to ascertain the company’s profit margin, net worth, assets, depreciation, receipts, account payable and receivable.
  • If they own stores, making sure to keep it clean and attractive by rigorous cleanliness policies. 
  • In their marketing process they make sure that the branding of their message is brief, and they are targeting their intended customers with their messages. 
  • Paying close attention to the specifications of their products and services, to make sure they contain the features and benefits advertised. 

Example: Walmart introduced various initiatives to streamline their system such as capturing POS data for inventory means, linking warehouses, creating income statements for stores, using its own satellite system, deploying retail link system to connect expert analysts forecasts and so on. 

2. Detail oriented from the ground-up

  • They understand its not only the executives who should be detail oriented by the entire workforce
  • They instill attention to details throughout their company with employees focusing on getting it right every day.
  • Creating a team which takes ownership because they believe in the mission and cause of the company. This helps them to put in the required effort to review various aspects of the business with diligence. 
  • Even the environment of the workplace can make huge difference. Small choices like the color of the walls, displayed artwork, messages of brand mission and values, ethics can impact business growth. 

Example: Riot games seek to hire people who are enthusiastic about games and purposefully make time to play games. This helps employees to bond over shared experiences, similar problems, and games milestones. Employees feel easier to work being aligned with people with common goals. 

3. Effective communication

  • Employees effectively communicate with attention to detail, which means they share information with their colleagues, keep timeline updated and encourage employees to communicate who are accountable for specific tasks of a bigger project. 
  • This could also mean using visual information pertaining to responsibilities, deadline, problems which even support those who are not into details. 

Example: Stagecoach implemented an employee app to effectively communicate to their 30,000 employees, including 21,000 bus drivers. 84 percent employees reported to use the app within the first week and stagecoach saw an increase in employee satisfaction.

4. Technology

  • Technology plays a greater role in business today than in history. 
  • This means taking the time to figure out the correct technology and appropriate devices to boost employee work and business processes.
  • Attention to details to technology and employee integration helps in creating an efficient and productive company.

Example: For visa, securing its processes is number one priority. They bolster trust in their network by using technology which prevent, detect, and eradicate threats. They employ a risk management tool that monitors VisaNet authorizations in real time and use risk scoring capabilities to provide transaction risk assessments to merchants. 

5. Customer experience

  • Detailed companies are obsessed with their customers and are keen are providing the best experience possible. 
  • Using measurements tools such as surveys, polls, questionnaires, discussions to gather and analyze data, which helps to elevate the customer satisfaction.
  • Taking the time to know more about your customers such their preferences, their likes, habits while keeping their privacy, can contribute to long relationships and repeat business.

Example: Amazon gathers data from its customers when they browse to build and find tune its recommendations engine. They use collaborative filtering to decide what it thinks you want by building an understanding of who you are and offering products that people with similar profiles have purchased.  

Summary

  • Being detail oriented means the practice of exercising close attention to all the small particulars of a task or project.
  • A detailed oriented business meticulously monitors all factors of production, analyze the organizations direction, growth, and fix errors.
  • Being detailed oriented helps in finding problems the business did not know existed, achieving repeat business from their customers, saving money, time and consistently improve to greater heights. 
  • Case studies into two of the biggest companies in their own industry, FedEx and McDonalds show that being detailed oriented pays in long term. 
  • To becoming detailed oriented, a business needs to streamline their systems and processes, be detailed oriented from the ground-up, focus on effective communication, employing suitable technology and analyze customer experience.