Business owners are always looking for better ways to be more productive and more efficient. We’ve all had those late nights at the office where we’ve thought, “There’s got to be a better way of doing things.” How can we make things simpler, quicker, and more effective?
At the end of the day, you should be able to feel like you’ve moved forward and accomplished something rather than just survived. Putting out fires is important, of course, but what if there are ways to make it so the fires never started in the first place?
Here are five ways to simplify processes, speed up production, and improve your company’s efficiency.
1. Never stop training your employees.
Businesses are anything but static – they are shifting constantly as technology changes, employees are let go and hired, and new managers are promoted. So a one-time training session for your employees isn’t totally adequate most of the time.
If you want things done right, you have to teach people what that right way is. Take the guesswork out of the equation! It’s also a good idea to reiterate job responsibilities and hierarchy every once in awhile. Everyone should have a basic understanding of what their coworkers do, so duplicate work is prevented and time isn’t wasted trying to find the right person.
2. Standardize what you can.
Avoid wasting time, energy, and resources by standardizing your documents. Things like order forms and client emails are useful to standardize – they’re used pretty frequently and require minimal individualization.
It’s also helpful to standardize certain processes, which will save time and avoid duplicate work as well. Assign just one or two people to jobs that involve producing large amounts of the same thing. But also remember that repetitive tasks easily become boring, so make sure no single employee bears the brunt of these responsibilities.
3. Outsource and automate wherever possible.
Oftentimes, task automation can require investing in a new software, so you’ll need to break out a calculator. Figure out how much time each process takes in a month, the amount per hour you’d pay an employee to do that, and determine how soon you’d level out on your investment. If it’s less than two years, it’s probably worthwhile. Keep your people free to concentrate on jobs that a computer can’t reproduce – like making decisions and keeping customers happy.
If you’re really wanting to get ahead but are swamped and overwhelmed, it may be worthwhile to hire a virtual personal assistant. You get to set the hours and it frees you up from solicitor calls. It can also coordinate travel arrangements and other details that don’t always need your input to be set up.
4. Improve your online presence.
A website is a necessity these days, but people have to be able to find it. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. SEO helps makes sure your website is organized properly to move up in the ranks in an internet search – i.e., people can actually find it.
If you’re too busy to keep up a blog, a Twitter feed on your homepage keeps content up-to-date with little to no extra effort on your part. If you’re new to the Twitterverse, find a few tutorials to make sure you’re using it effectively.
5. Prune unprofitable customers.
We all have those customers who make life harder – they’re always late on payments, are unresponsive to calls or emails, and waste your time in general. It can be difficult to be selective with your clientele because it feels like you’re forgoing additional income, but it’s worth it if it saves you time. And the less time you spend chasing those customers around, the more time you have to pursue new, dependable, profitable ones.