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Video: When The GAU Occurs
GAU is an abbreviation for the biggest accident to be expected. And what is the biggest accident to be expected for a craft business? The failure of the entrepreneur who runs the business. At Hils GmbH in Offenburg, the boss dropped out overnight. It is a painting company with around 30 employees, which maintains, in addition to the painting department, a scaffolding department and a department for building drying. Suddenly and completely unexpectedly, the entrepreneur Manfred Hils was torn out of business life by a stroke and his brother, Stefan Hils, had to take over his tasks overnight. Mr. Hils, first of all the most important question, how is your brother doing today? Stefan Hils: Thank goodness his recovery is making significant progress. In the beginning we all didn't know how the whole thing would end,everything was possible. In the meantime he can walk again, only speaking and the motor skills of one arm still cause difficulties. But here too we hope for a further positive development. Apart from the certainly high emotional stress for you and the whole family, that must have been dramatic for the operational process? Stefan Hils: You can say that out loud. In such a situation, having to concentrate on the business alone is practically not possible at all, because completely different things go through your head. Until then, my brother had managed the business together with me, whereby he was mainly responsible for the administrative area, such as the processing of offers, calculation and invoicing, and I was responsible for the construction site business on site. The tasks were clearly regulated. Maybe a little too clear. What do you mean? Stefan Hils: Well, because of the delimitation of tasks, everyone primarily perceived their area. In such an emergency, you are suddenly faced with the problem of having to get an overview of the current state of affairs of the other. And you can't ask anyone. That is hard. How did the employees react to this situation? Stefan Hils: They were just as shocked as we were. Occasionally, concerns were raised as to whether and how things would continue to operate. Therefore it was very important for me to make every effort to maintain a certain normalcy. How did you do that? Stefan Hils: By doing everything I could to ensure that wage payments continued to be paid on time. Our company has existed since 1963 and wages and salaries were always paid on time, we are proud of that and it should stay that way. Then, in support of our commercial staff, Ms. Indra Hils and our trainees, Ms. Beiser, my mother, who had previously run the business with my father, stepped in. What were the biggest coping problems for you? Stefan Hils: First, as I said, to give me an overview of my brother's day-to-day business and then of course the time component. Due to the failure of my brother, the week has 7 working days for me, whereby I can now take one or the other Saturday and Sunday off again due to the restructuring measures taken. The aim is,to come here again at normal working hours. Tell us about these restructurings. Stefan Hils: Despite all the difficulties that arose, the most stressful thing for me was that I lacked an overview of where the company is and how we have to adjust it due to the changed situation. A lot of time was lost due to the fact that I had to play fire brigade again and again because some information did not or only partially came to the right place. This mainly concerned the things that were directly related to the construction site process. I just didn't have time to prepare for the construction site. These weak points became particularly clear when my brother dropped out. So I got professional support from the consultant Wolfgang Krauß,that was already known to me through recommendations from colleagues. Mr. Krauß, how did your work at Hils go? Wolfgang Krauß: After an initial telephone contact, we sat down for a non-binding conversation. Of course it was particularly important for me to get to know the Hils family and to get a current overview on site. After that, we decided together how to proceed. And what did it look like? Wolfgang Krauß: First of all, make sure that the liquidity is available in order to have time for the implementation measures. Therefore, order processing was at the top of our agenda. The money is still earned on the construction site. When analyzing the operational processes, it immediately became clear that, which was no different, Mr. Hils would have no chanceto accomplish the tasks alone. He absolutely needed technical support. Fortunately, we were able to win over an existing master, Mr. Himmelsbach, who had been on the construction sites until then. We were able to involve him in the technical management, which was a significant relief for Mr. Stefan Hils. The construction site processes were jointly structured more clearly and made more transparent. For this we brought the foremen to the table. On the one hand to show the future realignment, on the other hand to use their construction site know-how. As a result, a preliminary inspection by the person responsible for the construction site is now taking place, among other things, on large construction sites. A checklist is now used to check before starting the construction sitehow far the tender differs from the real conditions and how to react. The implementation of a construction site overview using a planning board is currently being implemented. During these very constructive discussions it also became clear that the foremen wanted a stronger feedback on the construction site results. What other measures have been taken? Stefan Hils: In order to further improve the exchange of information between me, the master and the foremen, regular meetings are now taking place. They talk about the status of current and upcoming construction sites. At the same time, Mr. Krauss laid the foundations for our calculation and worked out the targets using cost planning. For each of our service areas there is now a clear overview of costs and income. All individual results come together in an executive overview, which is presented to me weekly. This is how I continuously see where the entire company and the individual departments are located. Was there a problem or resistance to the implementation measures? Stefan Hils: In order for the restructuring to work, of course, acceptance by everyone involved is necessary. That is why the purpose was communicated continuously. Among other things, through direct training, for example of the commercial personnel who carry out the inputs for the controlling. Furthermore, after the foreman meetings, we held a company meeting with all employees, in which we again looked at the current situation,the changes and future prospects have been addressed. The meeting first took place without the management, so that the employees could talk freely about everything and ask Mr. Krauss questions. There were no taboo topics here. In the end, my master and I came in to coordinate the common line and to answer any open questions. Of course, there is always one or the other point about which there is a different view between the employee and the management. But the path we have chosen is the right one, as shown by the positive results that have already occurred. We will therefore pursue it consistently in the interest of the entire company. What is your conclusion from the whole story? Stefan Hils: With all the worries and problems,that such a situation brings with it, and I am talking about problems and not just challenges, we have now implemented things that we have already spoken of before. We have also seen how important it is to create the highest possible level of transparency in the event of someone failing. And that's not a question of age. Personally, there are moments when you think about life again and what really matters. What will happen to your brother? Stefan Hils: The most important thing is that his recovery continues. As he wants and can, he comes into the company and introduces our master to our calculation program. We hope, of course, that he can support us more in the future. Everything else will be seen. Mr. Hils, what you just went throughOne or the other colleague will certainly face these problems. May I offer our readers the opportunity to contact you in such a situation? Stefan Hils: Gladly. I thank you for this offer and for the interview and wish your brother all the best.
Hils GmbH Tel.: (0781) 9686850-0 / Fax: -20 pos[email protected] BfH Advice for the trade Dipl.-Betriebswirt Wolfgang Krauß Tel.:/Fax: (08055) 9031830