Here’s how to save time, cut costs and boost revenue

Bob’s Car Valeting Service goes LEAN

car washBob Grimes runs a mobile car valeting business from his home in Essex. His business has been slow lately when on a blistering hot Monday the phone rings. Bob rushes to the phone, hoping it will be a customer. “Hello” he says,” BG’s mobile valeting service, you’re speaking to Bob.”

Bob was in luck the voice on the end of the phone replies “Hi Bob, I am looking get my car cleaned. Can you tell me how it all works?”

He has a customer, he drives for one hour to reach the customer, takes one hour to wash the car, then one hour to return home again.

The next customer calls and he repeats the process, he drives for one hour to reach the customer, takes one hour to wash the car, then one hour to return home again.

A final customer for the day calls and he repeats it yet again.  He has now washed 3 cars in 9 hours.

Now we can easily spot improvements that could be made to this system, if he had the appointments booked in advance he wouldn’t need to travel home after each job but simply travel from one to another.  So one hour to get to 1st customer, wash one hour, one hour to 2nd customer, one hour to wash, one hour to 3rd customer, one hour to wash.  Now by the end of the 6th Bob has already washed 3 cars- so now he can travel one hour to a 4th customer, one hour to wash and one hour home.  This day he has washed 4 cars in the same 9 hours therefore the process has become more ‘lean’.

This process can still be seen as very wasteful as he spends 5 hours of travelling which adds no value to the clients at all.  But let’s look at the 4 hours of washing time….. How is he using that time and adding value to the client?

He turns up at Miss Smith’s house, a large impressive mansion oozing fine living.  The butler comes to greet him outside, Bob spends the first 10 minutes wrestling with ‘Rover’ the family’s playful, but loveable hound!  He gets the car ready on the drive, he fills his bucket, and he puts the soap in and carries them to the car. Bob puts his hand in and picks up the sponge and prepares to place it on the bonnet!

Let’s stop there for a moment and consider what value he has added to the client at this stage though.  He’s been there for 15 minutes and still as yet failed to remove any dirt from the car (The purpose of the car valet).  He rubs the car for 10 seconds before needing to rinse out the dirty sponge.  As soon as he lifts the sponge he ceases to be adding value to the process again.  If we analyse this process in detail he probably only spends minutes collectively ‘Adding Value’ to the client.  Therefore of the 9 hours of work for the day Bob only has minutes of valuable process.

The key is to look at the ‘non value adding’ processes throughout Bob’s day. All of his working day that does not involve removing dirt from a client’s car is a waste! Reducing non- value adding processes makes more time for value adding which is where Bob makes money.

This approach can be applied to all areas of a business e.g. Sales, finance, operations, HR, quoting etc.

Start thinking LEAN

lean managementLearn how to apply Lean Management strategies to your business!!

Join us at our Lean Management Insight Session on 15th January 2015.

Our Lean Management Expert Andy Sleet will help you identify areas of your business where you can cut costs and save time. You will discover key principles of Lean Management and begin your journey in a more efficient 2015!

Go to for more info.


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