For any small business, efficiency is the name of the game. You need to get as much done as you can in as short of time as possible. You don’t have large budgets or staffs to work with, so it’s essential that you get the most out of what you do have. If you’re a small business owner, and you feel like you’re struggling with efficiency, here are 6 ways you can improve it.
Work with the Right People
First off, you need to have the right people on your team. If your staff is full of people who are inefficient or lazy themselves, they won’t be able to make your business efficient. This is why it’s important to get the hiring process correct the first time around. Make sure you ask your candidates about how they stay efficient and motivated throughout the day. If you already have a staff in place, take some time to monitor them more closely and see how they’re using their time. As you implement the other suggestions below, if you find that some employees are still remaining inefficient, it may be time to make some changes.
Next, work on improving communication throughout your business. This is especially important if you have remote employees, or people who work from home, but it’s vital even if everyone is in the same office. It should be easy for all your employees to communicate with one another, so that they can track the progress of products or ask questions. This requires having the right technology in place – using apps like Slack – and ensuring that your employees actually use them. Encourage your team to talk more, and if necessary, facilitate the conversations yourself by scheduling virtual or in-person meetings regularly.
Set Clear Goals
It’s hard to stay efficient if you don’t have a target goal. For example, imagine two scenarios – one where you tell your team you need a project completed by the end of the week, and another where you tell them to get it as soon as they can. In which scenario do you think your employees are likely to stay efficient? It’s the one with a set deadline. There’s an old rule that says the amount of work you have will fill up however much time you have. If you don’t set deadlines, then this time stretches on infinitely, and the work will end up taking longer.
Use the Right Technology
To really improve efficiency within your business you should look into the technology options available to you. We’ve already mentioned getting a good communication app, but there are other tools that can help you as well. For example, you can get a good Customer Relationship Management tool, which will allow you to track all the vital information about your customers in one place. Or you can get project management software, so that each team member knows what the other members are working on, and the status of all active projects. Take some time to find the most inefficient aspects of your business, then look for a technology solution to improve – chances are this tool already exists, you just haven’t found it yet.
Analyze Your Product Delivery System
A key aspect for many small businesses is how you get your products out to your customers. This is a complicated process, and if you don’t handle it well, it can really slow down your inefficiency. A great thing to do is consult a third-party shipping consultant. They can analyze your current shipping contracts and ensure you’re getting the best deal, and that your shipping providers are living up to their end of the deal.
Besides that, you should also invest in product tracking. A good product tracking system will make it easier to get orders out on time, and let you track them all the way up until delivery. No more time will then be wasted trying to track down orders or locate the right product to send out.
Streamline Customer Service
Finally, look to simplify your customer service channels. You should have a system in place that lets you manage your different customer service channels – social media, live chat, email, phone, etc – in one place. You should also be able to track your customer interactions, so that your support agents can use this information in future conversations and save time. You should also look into adding chatbots onto your website, which can then handle a large bulk of your customer service requests, in turn reducing the workload for your customer service agents.
Make Efficiency a Constant Priority
Once you implement the strategies above, your work isn’t done yet. To remain efficient, you need to always be on the lookout for ways to improve. Make efficiency a constant priority, so that you never slip back into your old habits.