• Three Systems You Need for Better Business Efficiency

    Dmitry Davydov 28 October 2014
    To run an efficient business, it's best to take the guesswork out of day-to-day operations. The easiest way to do that?

    Implement systems.

    Systems can help you cut down costs, streamline tasks, and effectively train team members.

    Does your business have these essential systems in place?
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    Inventory Tracking System

    If your business deals with physical products, then tracking the physical components needed to make the products, as well as the final products, is not optional. If you don't know what you have in stock, you cannot manufacture and fill orders effectively. You'll end up losing money on shipping costs, interest and financing fees, and lost sales when you can't fill orders in a timely way.

    Get a digital, searchable inventory tracking system in place and train your employees how to use it. Keeping up with inventory by department should be something every Department Manager knows how to do.

    For digital products and services, inventory tracking may seem like an exercise in futility. How can you "count" the inventory of a digital product that has no limitations of number?

    You count it in a different way: by type, and by sales. What various types of digital products do you offer, and what are the sales numbers on them? If you keep track of your "digital inventory" in this way, you'll be able to make smart decisions about how to expand your digital offerings based on what customers are already purchasing from your stock.

    Customer Service System

    Every business survives on customers, and that's true whether you are running a B2B or consumer-side business. Ultimately, customers are individuals making decisions about a purchase. Whether the purchase if for a business or not, the purchaser is still a single person, a human, an individual.
    And individuals? Well, they don't like to be ignored. They don't like to have their problems overlooked. They don't like to waste time or money, deal with unnecessary hassles, or feel like they're not important.

    Do you have a customer service system in place that makes your individual customers - whether business or personal - feel important?

    A good customer service system, at minimum, involves several contact options (phone, email, online form, physical address) as well as a dedicated individual or team to handle customer service inquiries quickly.

    The other three keys to a good customer service system are 1) scripts that your individual or team can follow, 2) authority to make decisions in order to solve customer problems and 3) a clear guide for when and how to send customer service issues to higher management.

    Employee Training System

    No business can survive without customers.
    It's also true that no business can survive - for long, anyway - without good employees.

    How do you fill customer orders, handle customer service, track inventory, come up with new ideas, and keep day-to-day duties done?

    Employees.

    Your team of people will determine the failure or success of your business. So why would you throw new employees into the demands of the business without proper training? That's a poor use of one of your main investments, your people.

    And why would you neglect ongoing training for your long-time employees? Business grow and change, and so should the people within them. Get that untapped talent refined and polished. Get those skills in place. Get your people the training they need to keep getting better at what they do.

    The best way to keep both new and ongoing training in place is with a system for each. Department heads can build a training system for new hires: mentor-apprentice methodology, video courses, hands-on learning, online training, company manuals and quizzes, or any combination.

    You can use any combination of those methods for ongoing training. Make it systematic by building reminders into your calendar and setting up recurring training sessions. As you get feedback from employees, you'll be able to determine what training produces the best results for your business, and establish a standard ladder of training for each employee to climb.

    The beauty of systems - in any application or area of your business - is that once you put them in place, maintaining them becomes simple. The benefits become automatic. Put a little initial work into building good systems, and you'll reap the rewards for a long time following.

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    See also:

    - How we improved our ROI for PR tenfold
    - Want Innovation? Embrace Constructive Conflict, Says Innovation And Creativity Guru Jeff DeGraff
    - The Top Money Mistakes that Small Businesses Make
    - What to Do When Your Team Isn't Working Together

    - Gary Cokins - Automate everything, but not salary and incentives
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