If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for ways to make your business more efficient. I speak with small and medium business owners on a daily basis, and I find it’s something even the best companies can improve on. Our 5 top tips for making your business more efficient was recently published on Fresh Business Thinking. The article generated a lot of interest as improving efficiency is an area that the best companies are always keen to improve on.
But if you're a drainage or electrical contractor, what does efficiency mean? Efficiency is a broad term that could mean a lot of things. But what it really boils down to is one question: how can my company make the biggest profit in the smallest amount of time?
Check out the following tips from the article and learn how you could increase profit in the smallest amount of time.
- Figure out how much money you’re throwing away. Then find a way to reduce it
- Use your time more effectively
- Help your employees do their jobs better
- Ask your employees how you can improve
- Don’t give your customers a reason to go elsewhere
Find out more below.
1. Figure out how much money you’re throwing away. Then find a way to reduce it.
How often do you lose money because of simple mistakes, like missing a job or sending out an invoice with incorrect details? How often are your invoices delayed or forgotten and how often do you spend hours searching for information to answer a complaint from a customer?
Even if you accept that a certain amount of waste is inevitable, the fact is that lots of small costs can add up over the year, potentially taking a large chunk out of your profits. Take time out each month to analyse your business. Look at your accounts to see what money is being spent and what costs could be reduced. Keep a note of mistakes and review them periodically and also jot down ideas for improvements as they arise.
With Okappy's job management software you can quickly search for information and generate reports to show you which jobs have been done for each customer, by each employee or at different site addresses. This could help you work out which jobs or customers are profitable and which are not. You can view your invoices through Okappy, or analyse your costs in your favourite accounting package.
2. Use your time more effectively
In a nutshell, time is money – or the potential to make money. The more time you waste on inefficient activities, the less free time you have to spend doing productive activities that will help your business grow.
Michael Gerber, in his world-famous book ‘The E-myth revisited – Why most small businesses fail and what to do about it’, stresses that one of the reasons businesses fail is that the owners spend too much time on day-to-day tasks. So if you are a small business owner, it’s vitally important to spend enough time steering your ship in the right direction.
One of the most common ways our clients improve their time efficiency is by using Okappy's job management features. Because Okappy provides you with the real-time status of all your jobs, you spend less time chasing for their status. In addition, you and your employees can spend less time filling out and duplicating job sheets, as all data is managed and sent to staff electronically. Okappy even generates invoices for you, saving yet more time.
3. Help your employees do their jobs better
This one is particularly important if your employees are out in the field. If you can’t assign jobs to staff and relay information to them easily, they will miss out on opportunities to finish jobs quickly. This could result in you taking on fewer jobs overall, meaning you’ll make less profit.
This is another reason that a mobile-based job sheet system like Okappy is so useful. As soon as a job is entered into your system by you or a customer, it can then be assigned to an employee, who receives an instant notification on their mobile device. Additionally, you can simply communicate via Okappy's messaging system. It’s a lot easier than trying to get busy workers on the phone.
Using software can empower your employees by putting key information into the palm of their hands. It can help them make decisions in the field without having to call the office.
It's also important to ensure that your employees are kept in the loop with company developments and have time to catch up with colleagues. When engineers are often out of the office, its all to easy to feel isolated and separated from the progress of the company.
4. Ask your employees how you can improve
Have you ever been working for a company and thought “our company could save so much money if our managers only asked us for input”?
The fact is, Directors of a lot of companies just never think of asking low-level employees for help. Your employees do the same job every single day, so there’s a chance they know their corner of the business better than you do. Why not ask them if they have any ideas on how you could save money or improve your service?
5. Don’t give your customers a reason to go elsewhere
We're all human, and sometimes mistakes are made. However, there's no reason why you can't provide feedback to your customers and look for ways to improve. At the very least, you should make sure that you are doing a better job than your competitors. Even if you feel you’re already doing this, it’s worth asking yourself a couple of times a year, “if a competing company opened tomorrow, would I have any reason to be worried?”
One of the best ways to retain your regular orders is by giving good customer service. If you don’t, it could cost you – a 2013 study showed that UK businesses lose £12billion a year through poor customer service.
While we don’t want to overdo the self-promotion, this is another area where Okappy can help. Your employees can update job statuses from their mobiles and when customers call for updates, you’ll always have up-to-date information ready for them. Okappy also warns you if a job hasn’t been picked up or is running late, so you can correct the problem sooner.
Find out more about how Okappy's job management software can help your business.
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