Ok, so as much as I gripe about non-lean companies sometimes, I really do like to try to think positively. Working in lean healthcare certainly gives me those moments, particularly when I read about success stories and lean momentum building (as in the case of the UK this week).
I was thinking this morning about all of the different types of maintenance that have to be taken care of with a house. Ideally, a good part of that maintenance should follow the lean Total Productive Maintenance (“TPM”) model of:
- Doing maintenance pro-actively before things break
- Doing maintenance based on a time or cycle-based schedule
I could easily list a number of things that fall into this category: lawn, A/C & furnance, bug/termite treatments, gutter cleaning, dryer vent cleaning, etc. Many of these maintenance items are small costs that help protect against the risk of relatively large costs. For example, having your A/C unit cleaned can help prolong the life of the unit, delaying the cost of buying a new air conditioner. Cleaning out a dryer vent (to remove lint) can help prevent a fire (a cost and safety issue).
Some of these things take money. Some of them just require tracking and monitoring, as maintenance activities would require at a factory or some other lean site.
So the business idea, just brainstorming, would be a homeowner service that tracks maintenance tasks and items for you and 1) reminds you via email about stuff you do yourself (change air duct filters) or 2) schedules service for those items that a professional has to do.
It seems like you could use simple automation and IT to track this and communicate with people. Another idea would be to pay a “flat fee” for the maintenance service, spread out into a monthly fee (similar to a “home warranty” that you get when you buy a home) and maybe baked into the mortgage payment.
In a way, this sounds like “OnStar” for your home — GM will now remotely monitor your vehicle and email you when it needs service. Would something like this fly for homes? Is it already being done? Would people pay for it?
What other ways you could make a service like that “lean”? Any thoughts, click “comments” to chime in.
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