If you could hire an efficiency expert, what would one say? Business-efficiency consultant Andrew Jensen finds himself repeating the same things to his clients over and over again.
Jensen, president & CEO of Shrewsbury, Pa.-based Sozo Firm Inc., goes into businesses, schools and organizations and makes recommendations on what their leaders can do streamline operations and increase productivity.
Here are the most common recommendations he makes to clients looking to do more with their existing resources.
1. Trim the overhead. Look at all of your fixed costs with a critical eye. Business owners operating for more than a dozen years tend to get into a routine with their overhead expense budget. Just because you have spent $100 on a particular good or service does not mean that you should keep doing it, says Jensen. "I encourage business owners to evaluate, evaluate, evaluate."
For example, look at your marketing budget, suggests Jensen. Ask yourself: Is the marketing that I am doing really bringing in more customers? If you are outsourcing your advertising to another agency, be sure that you are corresponding with the ad agency regularly to keep tabs on their progress, says Jensen. If you have been spending money to advertise on the radio, consider giving out a separate web address on the radio ads so that you can track whether the money you are spending is bringing in any new customers, says Jensen.
With regards to the physical goods included in overhead, if you have a broken piece of equipment, consider repairing -- instead of replacing -- it, says Jensen. Decrease the amount of inventory you lose by installing a new security system. Overhaul your stock-management system to reduce waste.
2. Train your staff. Entrepreneurs often don't spend enough time training staff, says Jensen. Even when a small business hires a competent candidate with the best qualifications, if he or she doesn't spending enough time training, then the company isn't likely to get the most out of the new hire. Since staff costs money, you want to make sure to get the most that you can out of every employee.
Training does not end at the point of hire, says Jensen. You need to continue to devote resource to making sure your staff is fully up to speed on any new systems, operating systems or procedures. Entrepreneurs and managers tend to think of training as lost time or a waste of money. "They don't really focus on the benefits," says Jensen. "It will make a profound impact on how efficient your staff is."
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3. Cancel meetings. Technology has eliminated the need for many meetings, says Jensen. Often client meetings can happen over video conference to save money on travel expenses. Further, traditional meetings don't allow all types of thinkers to have an equal chance to respond. Workers who need time to read, think and digest before responding can be at a disadvantage amid the spontaneity of a meeting. While many meetings can be replaced by a digital communication, there is still a place for some face-to-face meeting time, says Jensen, to foster community and camaraderie among the staff.
4. Get organized. If the boss isn't focused, then the business won't be, either.
- First and foremost, do the simple stuff: Clean out your desk, briefcase and files.
- Cut out the digital noise: Turn off all messaging systems for a few hours at a time. Create a habit of checking messages every few hours. Between times, stay focused on the task at hand.
- Prioritize: Make to-do lists. Avoid the urge to grab for the low-hanging fruit first. Do what needs to be done first, first.
- Assign specific tasks to specific times of day. Do the hardest mental work when you have learned you are the most focused. Stagger rewards throughout your day to keep you on track.
- Get your homelife cleaned up. "If a person's home life is hectic and stressful then their productivity at work is also going to suffer," says Jensen. Eat right, exercise and get enough sleep.
What is your best tip for keeping your business running lean and mean? Leave a note below and let us know.