Make Your Business More Efficient

Running an efficient business doesn’t just happen of its own accord. Left mostly to its own devices, a business will trundle along and be mediocre at best and at worst, out of business entirely. I have discovered during many years of working with business owners that most of them know what they SHOULD be doing. Many know the answers or at least have a vague idea of how to address the problems within their businesses but rarely get the opportunity to make good on that knowledge. Below are my 3 top tips to help you move from SHOULD to GOOD.

1. Step Outside Your Business

As the saying goes, ‘if we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll keep getting what we always get.’ Most of us who run our own business, run hard from sun up to sun down and then some. We rarely have the time to step outside our business due to the demands that are placed upon us by staff, clients, administration needs etc. One of the things that has been helpful to both myself and many of the clients I work with is to create a time each week that is set aside purely for business development and thinking. A surprising statistic coming from research on top performing business leaders, has shown that one of the three top disciplines they engage in, is that they take time to reflect. My time is Sunday afternoons. The phone is not ringing, there are no demands on my time and it’s an ideal time for some clear business thinking. If you are not currently practicing this, before reading on, grab your diary and set aside this development/thinking time. You will be surprised at the results over time.

2. Identify Bottlenecks

Most businesses have bottlenecks somewhere in their structure. A bottleneck, simply put is where the current system doesn’t keep up with the incoming flow. Watch for these:

- The number of jobs coming in compared to the number of tradesman able to complete in a timely manner. Thus flowing onto extended lead times.
- A blocked job card to invoice process. Numbers of companies have thousands of dollars sitting on the desk in the form of job cards waiting to be invoiced, and experience the resulting cash-flow challenges.
- Phone calls and emails backed up with too little time to address them.

3. Look for Inefficient Processes

Similar in some ways to bottlenecks, efficient business is all about reviewing each area and seeing how you can do things better. Things might be going well but upon closer inspection it is really organised chaos. One company I know have shaved a potential 51 hours per week off their internal job process times, just from examining their current processes and seeking to streamline them. Take these few examples:

- How long between the initial call or enquiry to the scheduled job?
- The length of time a job card takes to arrive back at the office after completion.
- The time it takes to invoice from job completion.
- How many people or documents are involved in each task? Can these be reduced?
- Assist process flow by identifying key areas and corresponding roles for your people.

As a final note, if you’re not sure where to start, begin with the weekly time set aside for developing your business. In the first session, make a list of everything you’d like to work on over the next three months and then order those items by importance. Number 1 for the one you are going to work on first, 2 for the second priority etc. And, once started, you have now exited the ‘doing what I’ve always done’ rut, the results… will turn out to be different to ‘what you’ve always got.’ Good luck!