Business improvement – turning around what isn’t working.

Don’t forget big improvements don’t need big budgets or heaps of time.

In fact it is often the small things that have the biggest impact. And the difference between a hugely successful business and an average business is often the little things.

If you are frustrated with something not working, please don’t ignore it because you feel it is too hard to too big.

It may be…but it may not be. 🙂

This week a client of mine had implemented a whiteboard system for tracking projects. It made the invisible visible – everyone could see where projects were up to and where attention needed to be directed. It worked really well for a few months and made a massive reduction in the number of projects delayed in starting. This was essential to boost revenue each month.

But on my monthly meeting with them this week the board was empty. Shock horror!

The person in charge was finding it was taking time to transfer data from the computer to the board.

This is a red flag. And opportunity. Whenever I see cracks appearing in a ‘system’, i.e. a member of staff not doing something, I know there is a deeper cause. I don’t just blame the person.
In this case it was literally taking way too much time to transfer data from the computer to the board and keep updating the board.

The solution is really simple and they will replace the white board with a very large inexpensive screen on the wall and connect it to the computer spreadsheet.

The first solution, the whiteboard, was a major improvement but it then proved less ideal.
The key I want to highlight in this example is:

– Never stop improving and finding better ways to do things. Especially when staff stop doing something or don’t complete something as they should – rather than blame them, examine the process/system including their understanding of it and their training. Note: some staff can be reluctant to criticise a process the boss has implemented so it can be hard to get honest feedback! And you get inaccurate info about it so do your best to help them feel comfortable being honest.

– If the first solution doesn’t work, don’t be wedded to it, change it or drop it!

Testimonial and Example of What it Takes

Here is a lovely testimonial from a current client that has made major improvements to his business. Darren is a great example of how easy it can be to take a business to the next level and higher. And he isn’t an unusual case.

I’m not saying it hasn’t required ‘work’ but the work required is quite straight forward and easy when you know what to do, and you have the willingness to do things differently. This is key.

Like the old saying…”change can happen in an instant but getting ready to change can take a lifetime”.

 

 

 

 

 

Darren’s crews were never completing jobs on budget, he was always having to pick and choose which bills he paid, and he often took a pay cut along with his business partner so they could pay the staff.

What was required to turn things around?

  1. Detailed discussion with both business partners about how the business is run, the issues, and their goals.
  2. Interviews with key staff and crew team leaders to get their take on what needed improving and my personal take on their suitability for the role and company.
  3. Both partners completed my custom questionnaire I have developed over the years to help benchmark strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Plan of attack – I prepared my recommended actions and timing.
  5. Implementation – they immediately implemented changes the same day we discussed what needed doing, and this is a key reason they succeeded. They took immediate action.
  6. I supported them along the way in the implementation phase so that they had support to follow through, stay focused and had the skills to facilitate the changes. Change had to occur within the two partners as well and this is where I acted as their personal coaches to improve their leadership style.

It has only taken three months to completely turn the business around and get all crews bringing jobs in under budget, the office staff are efficient and happy, and there is over $100K in the bank already, gst and super and wages are all being paid.

 

LOOKING FOR TIPS ON GETTING TEAMS TO HELP INNOVATE AND IMPROVE YOUR BUSINESS?

Here are two of my strategies I use to help teams innovate to turn the business around or take it to the next level.

Staff and customers are fantastic sources for ideas on what to improve, yet many businesses don’t tap into these gold mines well.

1. Permission to fail.

When encouraging staff to suggest and try better ways to do things (that are not life threatening or financially crippling), make sure you give them permission to fail.

“Try it, if it doesn’t work, change it or try something else.”

It’s that simple. No big deal. Encourage your team to try new ideas they have.

The culture has to be one of giving permission to try.

I see so many teams frustrated and demotivated because they can’t implement their ideas. It is common to see morale turn 180 as soon as the team feel listened to and able to suggest ideas.

2. Ask customers for suggestions.

The trick here is to appreciate they can have a fixed opinion of what you can do.

They have put you in a ‘box’. Therefore you need to encourage them to think outside the ‘box’.

I will literally say something like, “if anything was possible, what features would you really love to see?”

Encourage them to forget what they believe you can offer, and to talk about what they would really love to have. Sure, some ideas will not be practical, realistic or feasible but in my experience, there is always at least one good idea that helps improve the business.

If they seem a bit stuck for ideas, ask them if there is anything your competitor does really well that they like.