When machines are sold and shipped around the country, many maintenance personnel work and repair these machines over years of use. These guys know these machines very well. They are fully aware of their design flaws and how much better or worse they are compared to the competing machines out in the market.
Pay the experts for ideas. To take advantage of all of this knowledge spread out over all of your customer base, hold an awards contest. Ask what changes can be made to your products to make them easier to repair, faster to get back up online, more quickly altered, improve design elements. The maintenance personnel for all of your customers will most likely have a lot to say when they know they will possibly be paid for their insightful comments.
Suggestions for a successful contest:
- Make the checks sizeable and very attractive. You want participation especially from those who know your equipment better than your own people.
- Allow the participants to enter as often as they want.
- If they win, they will sign over rights to the improvement ideas as they are given a $10,000 check. Do not be stingy. You want everyone to be constantly thinking of great ideas for your company.
- Give the maintenance personnel the option for anonymity. Allow them to have a check sent to their house if they win.
- Ask the participants to compare your company’s machinery to that of your competitors.
- What features or beneficial design aspect is your machine missing?
- Why is your machine more difficult to repair? What could be done to cut the repair time?
- Why does it take longer to repair your machine than that of the competition?
- What do they like or dislike about your product versus the other products?
- What could be altered to make repairs cheaper to install or perform?
- What could be changed on your machine that would greatly speed up repairs and reduce downtime?