Whether your business is just starting out or you’re looking to raise your profit margin, success begins with adapting your business to accommodate the needs of your customers and employees. Here’s how to start optimizing your business.
Before you jump into making changes, evaluate the systems you already have. Take a full inventory of your stock and equipment. Look at the accuracy and efficiency of your current procedures. Ask these questions:
- Am I using my and my employees’ time wisely?
- Are company records up-to-date, well-maintained, and accessible?
- Are basic needs (such as paying rent and utilities, and upkeep at your brick-and-mortar location) being met?
- Is the equipment you’re using (from forklifts to your firewall) up to date?
- Is your marketing campaign reaching your targeted demographics?
- Is your customer satisfaction rate acceptable?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, mark that as a victory and set your concerns in that category aside for another day. Focus your attention on changing your “no’s” to future “yes’s”. Put first things first: if your company’s basic needs aren’t being provided for, you’re going to have a harder time raising your customer satisfaction.
Make a list of changes you and your employees would like to see—from more fridge space in the break room to an electronic finance system—and then start planning how best to make the changes happen.
If you built your business without a lot of help, you’ve probably been wearing many hats for a long time. Instead of trying to take on these changes yourself, enlist the help of your entire company. Delegate tasks to teams, committees, or senior employees.
Provide deadlines, guidelines, funds, and supervision, but let each team handle these tasks themselves. This will decrease your workload, which will better enable you to address more complex improvements. Forming committees for important improvements will also help you determine which employees work best together, which employees have better leadership skills, and the most efficient way to complete tasks.
Forming strong, reliable partnerships with outside companies can make your business more efficient, reliable, and productive. If, for example, one of the improvements you want to address is more cost-effective shipping options, consider outsourcing packing, shipping, and delivery to a company that specializes in that industry. Talk to a company like Pack-All International, a company that supplies wood pallets in Toronto, about arranging wholesale deliveries. Contact a local vendor to optimize your merchandise production.
Outsourcing reduces the strain on you and your employees and can allow you to focus on sales, marketing, and profitability.
If out-of-date equipment or systems are holding your company back, begin making strategic upgrades. Start with the highest priority items and go from there. For example, if your employees don’t have adequate tools to move and sort inventory, invest in a forklift, a new shelving system, or an electronic tagging system before you furnish the offices with new computer monitors. Here are some common upgrades to consider:
- Improve your internal phone system. Are there lots of missed calls and games of customer/employee phone tag in your office? Consider investing in a connected phone system, or a service like VoIP which allows voicemail to be accessed from any phone or electronic device with internet.
- Purchase a network server or server space. Network servers provide quick and easy backup for important files, simpler access to information within the company, and more security for your sensitive information than peer-to-peer systems.
- Add to your heavy equipment. Acquiring a new piece of equipment—like an industrial shredder or a box compactor—can improve safety and efficiency in your backroom.
Following the suggestions will help you get the ball rolling on continuously improving your business.