5 Crucial Ways to Improve Business Fitness
By David Bakke
There’s no question the economy is struggling. Virtually all businesses have been affected by it in some way. It’s also fairly evident that not much will change until at least after the election. In the meantime, small business owners are left to fend for themselves.
That said, it’s crucial for an organization to become as “lean” as can be. Business fitness in its most basic sense means making sure your organization is running efficiently and smartly to best maximize profits. Whether a mom-and-pop shop or a large corporation, these five can’t-miss ways will go far to shore up your company’s ledger:
1. Reduce Costs
The first way an outfit can reach business fitness is to cut costs – anywhere and everywhere. Go green to save on paper and energy costs. Move all your computer networking to the cloud (although this can involve a significant cash outlay). Ask for discounts from your suppliers, review your vendors’ competitors to see if you might benefit from switching, and track every cent you spend to see if there’s any “fluff.”
2. Streamline Operations
Forgoing processes and procedures that just aren’t working and replacing them with cost-effective ones and time management strategies is another way to firm up. One of the best ways to identify what’s bogging down your operation is to ask your staff. They’re the ones who are involved with – or hampered by - inefficiencies on a daily basis, and they’ll have no problem telling you what isn’t working.
3. Train Staff (and Managers)
While you may think you have well-honed employees, when is the last time you actually monitored their performance? Contrary to what you may think, staffers generally value quality time with the boss. They learn – and the smartest ones know you learn, too. Once you see them in action, it could very well be that some serious retraining is in order. Have them ride along as you do invoices, communicate with vendors, or write ad copy. This especially goes for managers, as they’re often not called in until something is going wrong.
4. Laser Focus on Customer Service
Speaking of patrons, they are the lifeblood of your success. A happy business needs happy customers. Every training session with your employees should keep coming back to good customer service. And let them watch you with people, so that they can model their approach on you. Ensuring that every employee from top to bottom understands that each customer is golden and should be treated as such will come back to you in dollars and cents.
5. Embrace Technology
You won’t achieve true business fitness unless you embrace technology. Complicated as it may be to master, it’s there to streamline. This can involve as little as getting a smartphone so you’re connected day and night, or as much as mastering productivity-enhancing software. If you’re hesitant to take on new tasks, know this: Your competition has more than likely already done this, so you better get up to date before it’s too late.
If you’re set in your business ways, any one of these ideas is going to involve change, and you may be averse to that. But you need to keep your eye on the prize here: profits. Accept that businesses are like people – they benefit by being physically fit. Then get your people behind you, map out a plan, and start working out. The result will surely be a leaner, meaner, stronger bottom line.
Where does your company stand in terms of business fitness?