Maximize Staff Productivity to Improve Profit

After cost of goods sold, personnel will be the biggest expense on a kitchen/bath design firm owner’s income statement. They are also your firm’s number one intangible asset. Unfortunately, from my perspective, too many owners become too busy with their everyday workload to properly think about, plan, organize and prepare for improved staff productivity – or additional staffing that is a real consideration now that the economic skies are brightening a bit.

As a result, having people perform to maximum productivity is seriously compromised. According to Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, getting the right people on the bus, in the right seats, is one of the six major reasons why a company will vastly outperform its competitors. Indeed, his research concludes that if you get the right people in the right seats, there will not be a need to manage them. They will all be self-motivated. To accomplish that goal successfully in this industry requires at least two key organizational tools.

Chain of command

The first personnel productivity tool is an Organization Chart that visibly represents the job titles and primary responsibilities of everyone in the company. It depicts the chain of command, and how each job position relates to the other, so the basic structure and development scope of the business can be fully understood.

As a business evolves, the Organization Chart also chronicles changes in the owner’s key responsibilities. There are up to four stages of business development that kitchen/bath owners may attain, depending upon their level of ambition and management/marketing skill set: Stage 1 – Startup; Stage 2 – Studio Model where the owner does all of the selling; Stage 3 – Showroom Model where the owner serves as a general manager with a fleet of sales designers; and Stage 4 – Satellite Model where branch managers report to the owner.

The “Studio” Business Model sample above represents a sample Organization Chart. Sample Organization Charts for the other growth stages of business development are available by contacting me at

Job Descriptions

Where an Organization Chart furnishes the personnel structure for the company, a Job Description presents the structure and responsibilities for each individual position on the chart, including that of the owner/president. There are a number of elements that constitute an effective Job Description: (1) supervisor to whom the position reports, (2) primary duties, (3) secondary duties, (4) performance standards, and (5) career path. The following represents a sample Job Description for a design assistant, usually the first support position that’s hired.

In addition to communicating in detail to a potential new hire the nature of the position that is open in your firm, Job Descriptions are useful to evaluate the progress of staff people at six-month intervals. They can also be a handy resource as a business grows. For instance, if a focus group is called to solve a problem that has arisen with a couple of recent client projects, an examination of several Job Descriptions may reveal changes in responsibilities that need to be considered.

If you expect to climb high on the ladder of business success in this industry, crafting effective Job Descriptions in support of your Organization Chart is, indeed, a very important rung on that ladder.


Ken Peterson, CKD, LPBC, is president of the Chapel Hill, NC-based SEN Design Group and an instructor for “Competing & Thriving In The New Economy: Best Business Strategies For 2012” seminar that is co-produced by KBDN. Peterson can be reached at 1-800-991-1711 or