A more efficient business is one that is more likely to achieve greater success with less wasted resources. A few simple changes can make your business more efficient without sacrificing service or over-stressing your staff. Therefore, if you are a business owner who wants to achieve greater success and enhanced efficiency, here are some simple yet effective tips to set you on the right path.
How to make your business more efficient
Almost any business faces inefficiencies, if only briefly. As a knowledgable consumer, one of my biggest frustrations is going into a business only to discover massive inefficiencies that impact their ability to meet customer needs. With a few, simple tweaks, these businesses can make their business more efficient, stop wasting resources, improve customer satisfaction, and reach their marketing goals.
Below are some ways to make your business more efficient that don’t cost a lot of money or take long to achieve improved returns.
Often, businesses don’t think through the processes involved in meeting customer needs. Instead, they add processes ad hoc as a need occurs. If you start receiving customer complaints, see long lines forming in your store, find employees increasingly frustrated, or see products backing up on the supply chain, it’s time for an audit to develop more efficient processes.
For instance, I worked retail while finishing my MBA. We were required to obtain a signature from one of the buyers when taking a return from a customer. Buyers were busy people, which meant leaving the customer waiting at the register while I tracked down a buying in the backroom or their office. The buyer’s signature, obviously the brainchild of some bean counter somewhere, did nothing but frustrate employees and customers alike. The buyer never saw the item being returned or the customer making the return, which made them useless in stopping fraudulent returns.
Poor communication results in wasted effort, as employees attempt to accomplish what they think a manager wanted then sometimes repeat the effort when they discover what they accomplished didn’t meet the manager’s needs.
Part of effective communication means reducing unnecessary communication. We’ve all been to meetings where nothing gets done. According to research, the average office worker spends 31 hours each month in unproductive meetings. That 31 hours lost represents a lot of inefficiency. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we could replace a number of meetings with technology, such as project management software and email.
Some people are really good at prioritizing tasks. In most cases, however, employees are paralyzed when they have too much to accomplish because they can’t prioritize their tasks. Setting deadlines helps workers build priorities. Using task management software and Pert charts also helps workers build priorities.
Multitasking was once considered the epitome of the efficient worker. We now know that multitasking doesn’t really exist and that attempts at multitasking actually result in less efficiency. The same goes for distractions in the workplace. For instance, turn off notifications while you work and set times for checking your email rather than getting distracted by reading email as it comes in. Use technology to help avoid multitasking. In digital marketing, that means using automation to post content at scheduled times rather than interrupting your work every time a post is scheduled to go up on social media.
I’m all in favor of an open door policy but such distractions make it hard to work efficiently. Instead, borrow a tactic from universities where we establish times when students may ask questions or engage in other interactions with their professor and they know they’re not welcome at other times when the faculty member must focus on their research or preparing for classes. Post time when you’re available to meet with others.
Take a break
While taking a break may sound counterintuitive, taking a break actually makes your business more efficient. After 90 minutes or so, studies show your productivity actually declines. Taking a short break or even a walk around the building can make you more productive.
Keep the workspace tidy
Having too many distractions in the workspace can reduce the concentration and focus of employees, as mentioned earlier. Therefore, it helps to minimize the workspace by storing things away. Using an external Storage Area helps free up space in your office so you don’t have so much stuff surrounding you and your team that distracts them from their tasks. Therefore, storing unneeded items away until you want them helps create a tidier and cleaner office for maximum focus and productivity. Moreover, a tidier workspace helps ensure you reduce hazards as it means less is on the floor or in the wrong place, which may represent hazards to workers.
A tidy workspace also means everything is in its place. Instead of hunting around for a needed item, workers know exactly where to go when they need something. The same goes for your files, not just your physical items.
Outsourcing is great for businesses that want to achieve greater efficiency. Outsourcing means you have another company complete tasks where they’re the experts, which reduces the cost and effort necessary for them to complete the task. For instance, consider the savings associated with using a digital agency versus hiring internally for this task.
For instance, you might be spending too much money on staff that lacks the right skills to boost your marketing results. If so, then you can use that money wisely and spend it on outsourcing, which is both cheaper and helps you achieve greater results for your marketing strategies. Hence, your business can become more efficient while making the right financial decisions.
When your staff performs well, you should consider recognizing their performance in some way; whether it’s a financial bonus, a group celebration, or simply calling out those performing well at a company meeting. Sometimes, a simple “thank you” is enough. But, a tangible reward helps prove to them how much you respect their efforts.
A pay bonus or an extra day off is a simple yet effective way to show them that you recognize their efforts. Whatever reward you decide on, clearly link it to their contribution toward greater business efficiency. And, remember, the motivating value of a reward doesn’t last forever. You should consider providing rewards on a routine basis.
Delegate roles wisely
When you delegate roles to different employees ensure they have the right skill set to do a good job with the task. If you don’t have someone available who has the right skill set, consider outsourcing the task, at least for now. Later, you can bring the task in-house once you have sufficient staff to handle the tasks. Alternatively, consider offering training and a salary bump to encourage your existing staff to acquire the skills you need for now and into the future. In fact, offering training acts to reward staff for their hard work.
Therefore, you must delegate roles wisely so that you offer the right tasks to the right staff. For example, there’s not much use in offering a marketing task to someone who has no experience in marketing. Just because someone runs a Facebook profile to keep in touch with family and friends, doesn’t mean they can handle your company’s social media. Instead, you should get to know your employee’s strengths and from there, offer them tasks that are aligned with their knowledge and experience.
By delegating tasks, you should also delegate responsibility. That means you must back off and avoid any tendency to micro-manage the employee as they perform the task. Certainly, you must set expectations and deadlines but try to allow staff to explore how to meet these expectations within the allowed timeframe rather than control their tasks.
Making your business more efficient helps your business grow without requiring additional resources. Efficient businesses also improve customer satisfaction and reduce employee frustration. You’ll find relationships with all your stakeholders improve when you run your business more efficiently.
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