Whether you work out of a home office or have multiple branches across the country, having efficient processes in place can make a huge difference. Besides making your business more profitable, it also frees up valuable time for research, networking, marketing, or exploring new potential income streams. Aside from anything else, inefficient processes -where you’re constantly putting out fires as they arise- make your working day a lot more stressful!
We look at some common sense, actionable steps any company can take to make their daily processes run more smoothly, freeing up time and resources so you can refocus on growth.
It’s impossible to iron out the time-wasting activities holding you back if you don’t know what they are. It sounds simple, but it’s actually not always easy to pinpoint exactly where you’re going wrong. Try a few different approaches – perhaps creating workflow diagrams where more than one department is involved, or asking employees which parts of their daily tasks take up the most time.
If your sales staff are spending more time logging call details, capturing data and doing reports than they are actually selling, for example, shifting some of those tasks to a dedicated admin assistant (or even outsourcing them entirely) could make a massive difference.
A tedious, time-consuming yet necessary task which takes one employee all day to complete may be better accomplished by having additional staff members help out for an hour or two during their quiet periods.
Focus on employee training and staff morale
Happy employees who understand why their role is important and know that their contributions are valued are much more likely to be productive. Invest in training – either from an outside provider or through your own time and resources – so that employees feel confident that they can tackle the tasks assigned to them. Incentivizing good performance is another great way to give your staff motivation to improve their performance, a win-win for both parties.
To encourage teamwork, something as simple as having everyone look like a team can make a noticeable improvement. Revisit your company dress code. You might want to encourage a smart corporate wear look for your client-facing teams, or have some branded T-shirts made for your behind-the-scenes staff so they feel part of the whole too.
Get the right tool for the job
Once you’ve identified bottlenecks, finding equipment that can save you and your workers valuable time is a wise investment. What this means for you of course differs widely depending on your industry. It might be time-saving software for your admin or accounting staff, looking at affordable machinery or forklifts for sale for your warehouse staff, or a team management application that lets your out-of-office employees stay in touch easily. Using the right technology lets you use your human staff spend their time on what people do best – solving problems, thinking creatively, and engaging with your customers.
Reevaluate your own schedule and calendar
As a business owner with many different business functions to oversee, how you manage your own time is paramount. Apply the same treatment you use when assigning tasks to your employees when you lay out your own schedule. Getting comfortable with delegating tasks that are important but can be managed perfectly well by an employee is difficult for some managers. Be honest with yourself when deciding where your time is really best spent.
Dealing with social media is a prime example. Business owners often feel they need to be the ‘face’ of the company online – but dealing with every comment, question or basic enquiry that comes through can easily suck up all your time if you let it. Rather train up a tech-savvy employee to stay on top of it for you.
Get rid of products or services that aren’t making you money
While no business enjoys turning a customer away, not every sale is worth it – especially if it means multiple employees have to drop what they’re doing to come up with a solution you’re only going to use once. Your focus should always remain on those revenue streams that are most likely to provide steady income and growth. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with going out of your way to point someone in the right direction and pass on advice, but only if your existing customers aren’t suffering as a result. Knowing when to drop a service or product line, learn from your mistakes and move on is a common trait among successful entrepreneurs and companies.