Nothing is worse than losing money on your business. If a downward economic turn is not remedied, you could go out of business. To avoid layoffs, salary cuts and more drastic outcomes such as bankruptcy, you need to focus now on improving your business’s quality. Even if you are not in a rough patch and things appear to be operating well, it is always better to begin preventative measures early rather than starting them too late. Follow these tips to develop your company and bring it to new levels of efficiency and productivity.
Having a goal such as “making your business better” is not enough to be successful. You need concrete, specific goals that you can achieve in a reasonable amount of time. For example, you might decide that you want to earn the six sigma belt levels. Or you might decide that you want to increase customer approval ratings by 50%. Having these exact goals helps you create plans to achieve them.
Talk to Employees
If you are running low on ideas of how to improve your company, you should speak with your employees. They are likely to see a side of your business that you do not. Depending on how many people work for you, you could circulate their cubicles or workstations informally. You could also host town halls where large numbers of employees can speak to you. Another option is to create surveys that you send electronically to your employees. Be sure to listen to everything they say, and do not take any criticisms as personal insults. They probably want your business to improve just as much as you do.
Listen to Customers
Another type of perspective on your company that you can’t see on your own is your customers’ point of view. Customers see how your company operates beyond guidelines or goals. They see the day-to-day operations of your company from an objective outsider’s perspective. When something goes horribly wrong, you hear from them through a complaint reporting system or phone call. However, you probably don’t hear about small issues or the good things that are happening with your company. Make an effort to get your customers’ feedback on what they think works well and what needs improvement. Since you cannot mandate that customers attend a meeting, you will need to solicit their feedback electronically. For example, you could advertise an online survey and offer a coupon to people who complete it.
Look at Data
While people’s opinions are very helpful in determining what steps you need to take to improve your business’s quality, you should also take facts into consideration. Look at your data for the past few years in all areas, including sales, efficiency, employee retention and customer satisfaction. While the feedback you receive from employees and customers should make sense with your data, you may find some contradictions. If this is the case, you will have to do some investigating to find out what the problem is. In most cases, though, you can use the data to explain the decisions you make as you seek to develop your business into an even more successful venture.
Once you make a change to help your business succeed, you need to monitor performance carefully to see if the development made a difference. Look at all of the relevant data on sales and productivity. You could also poll your customers and employees again. Once you have the information and decide whether or not the change was for the best, you have to make a plan for the future. Will you continue with your new strategy, or do you need to tweak it? Make sure that you do not allow your business to stagnate. After all, the process for improving your business must constantly repeat in order to be successful.
Take some time to carefully plan your business’s success rather than just trying things at random. You’ll be more likely to know what causes a sudden change in profit and you’ll know how to repeat your accomplishment in the future.