Adjusting valve clearance on an engine can be a lot of fun, if you enjoy working on engines. I like to tinker from time to time but at the end of the day I just want my car to work and work well. Sound familiar?
Many people run or manage small businesses with this same mindset. There isn’t anything wrong with that, in fact it makes a lot of sense. X number of customers in, X number of happy customers out. But occasionally due to carbon build up or a rich fuel mixture the lid needs to be pulled and adjustments need to be made. Let’s get some technical background.
I used to ride a 1975 BMW R90/6 motorcycle. This bike was amazing. A direct shaft drive meant I had a smooth ride in all five gears. I only ever had one complaint about the bike and it dealt with power loss. I could never get the carburetors to sync the way they should so my left cylinder was always sluggish. I had the bike for about 2 years and completely rebuilt it and customized it to fix some flaws but overall it was a sweet ride. I decided to part ways with the bike since I couldn’t ride it as frequently as it needed and my buyer had concerns with the power loss too. In an effort to finally solve the problem I looked into the valve clearances and sure enough, they didn’t meet the specifications. A little fine tuning and then another look at the carbs made a huge difference! I rode the bike and I couldn’t believe how much power was being robbed from bad valve clearance.
So when is the last time you pulled the cover off to check the way your system runs? I know it can be difficult sometimes but those preventative maintenance programs and regular performance meetings just don’t cut it. I have worked with some great people before and the best of them always shared the same interest in digging deeper than the surface. Engines require a particular number of components to run just like your business. These pieces will last a lifetime if you maintain and adjust them accordingly to the wear on the engine. I hate replacing parts just as much as the next guy so I often try to evaluate what adjustments I can make. My recommendation for you? Try to evaluate what kind of adjustments your team needs to improve their operation. You may be surprised with how much power is being robbed from a great team just by fine tuning a few key parts. Keep in mind that you can speak to the team and maybe identify particular bottlenecks. I tried to talk to my bike but it was more stubborn than anyone I ever met.