Question: I’m looking for an app to streamline my surfboard shaping process. We are focusing on a process that is easy for surf shops to fill a order form out then we get the order form printed out, design the file from one of the shops models then cut the board, outsource the shaping and glassing then, once that is complete, we deliver it back to the customer.
Making it easy is the key as 75% of people that will use this app wont be very sound with computer skills.
Currently, to make a blank order I have to call up and place it but would prefer something more automated.
The big thing to capture is once the client completes the form we can print out the order form to be attached to the board through the whole process. I have no preference for an app as long as its cost effective and easy to use.
Answer: From our initial chats, my understanding of your workflow is that it flows like:
- Surf shops keep a copy of your form (or a link to a Google doc to use) somewhere on their computer
- They print out the form, complete it, scan it and then email to the address on the form
- You receive the email, print the form, attach to the blank
- Have the blank shaped
- Deliver the blank to another company to shape and glass
- Get a phone call or email to say the board is ready
- Receive the board back
- Book in a delivery to the surf store
- Wrap and send the board
There are plenty of options for ways to refine this process ranging from simple through to more streamlined processes over time where you’re minimising waste, allowing surf stores to track orders through the process (through access to a portal), sending alerts, having dashboards, using pencil markings of the order number on the stringer instead of the paper form, tracking costs, integrating invoicing, inventory, labelling etc but we’ll start simple and go a little Kaizen with continual improvement over time.
Your key priorities:
- Keep it simple
- Create a form
- Make the process a little more automated and cut down on phone calls
The focus here is the form and ensuring the ordering process is simple but trackable.
- Using a form to collect the initial order details. You could use form software like Typeform but will probably want a more structured form so could look at Cognito Forms or Webmerge.
- You would provide the form link to surf shops via email and ask them to bookmark the link. I’d also consider having the link in your email signature so people can always do a quick search of their emails to find your details and order.
- Have the form set up so you get emailed a copy of the results (where the online form responses fill in your shaping order form in your chosen format) but also have the form sent through to simple project management tool.
- In terms of simplicity, I’d use the email-in functionality on Trello. Trello is like an online whiteboard where you can set up columns form left to right for the stages in your process.
- The columns could be named order received, blank shaping, blank to send, at shaper/glasser, board received, board delivered, feedback received.
- Your email would be sent into Trello and would create a card in the order received column and would then be moved across columns as steps are taken in the process. To keep things easy, you might want to set up an iPad on a stand next to your shaping bay that has the Trello board favourited & displayed. Side note: the iPad could also be used for music connected to a bluetooth speaker for workshop music, a calendar for requesting time off and other office apps.
- Your form will also trigger an email to your inbox with a pdf form for you to print out and attach to the blank.
Streamlining and improving your processes takes time and staff adoption of new technology and processes so I’ve kept it simple. In the future, you’ll see improvements using tools like Pipedrive or Pipefy to automate the document creation and trigger to-do lists or emails to customers based on stages. Hope this helps!