07711 709 190 or 07885 488 716 info@easyope.co.uk

Business focus

A few days ago I posted on my LinkedIn profile that I was working on our next 13-week business plan. It was my regular Monday morning update but sparked a lot more interest and engagement than anything I’d posted before. People were fascinated by the idea of a 13-week business plan and wanted to know more.

While 13-week business plans aren’t new, we’ve been working on a simple way to integrate everything a business needs for prosperity, and know it comes down to the successful management of three Ps – purpose, people and processes.

Purpose

A business without a purpose is like a ship without a captain – you will have no clear direction or leadership. Purpose is a congruent vision of why your business exists, which allows you to define what the future should look like. Everyone in your company should understand your purpose and their part in successfully delivering it. Are you clear on your purpose?

People

Just as a ship is nothing without a captain, it can go nowhere without a crew. Your people are not minions; they are not simply a means to produce your widgets or delivering your services. Treated well and harnessed correctly they are a powerful force with the ability not only to deliver your purpose, but magnify it many times over.

Processes

A business’s processes are the engine of the ship; they are the things that take you from your starting place to the safe harbour of your destination. When finely tuned and run by a competent crew they can deliver predictable, manageable success and growth, ensuring your clients are delighted every time.

Supporting the three Ps

I know I’ve made it sound simple, but as with many things, the complexity is not in the theory, but in the practice of getting it right. Underpinning our 3Ps are 12 core routines, inspired by our continuous improvement background in large corporations.

Having defined and reviewed our 3Ps, a 13-week business plan simply brings clarity to the steps we need to take next and the targets we should be able to meet.

If you’re interested in talking about your 3Ps or help with developing a 13-week business plan, get in touch by calling us on 07885488716

Do you know what you are wasting in your business? Can you quantify the time, energy and money you and your staff are using on achieving very little (or absolutely nothing)?

And if you can’t, how do you know whether your business could run more smoothly, deliver more with less, or make more profit?

Like a dripping tap that seems innocuous but is responsible for your bigger water bill, small amounts of waste can add up. Here’s our easy guide to plugging those leaks in your business.

How many types of waste?

There are eight different types of waste in a business. Ask yourself these questions to identify where you’re wasting time, effort and money.

  1. Transport – Do you travel to meetings that could be just as effective by phone or Skype? If you buy and sell products, do you move them around unnecessarily?
  2. Inventory – Do you have a bulging in-box or a pile of pending projects? Is your to-do list never-ending?
  3. Motion – Are you always searching for files or information because you don’t have a universally agreed filing system? Do you have to walk down two flights of stairs to get to the nearest printer?
  4. Waiting – Do you have one member of your team unable to finish a piece of work because they are waiting for information from another? Do you keep your customers waiting, either on the phone or for work you’ve committed to delivering?
  5. Over-production – Do you produce 12-page reports for a service which could be delivered in three pages? Where are you setting yourself up to do more than you need to?
  6. Over-processing – Where are your systems and processes unnecessarily complex? Do you require two partners to sign off every report to a customer? Do you have to input client data onto three separate systems every time you take on a new one?
  7. Defects – Everyone makes mistakes, but when do they repeatedly happen in your business?
  8. Skills – Are you using an over-qualified team member to deliver simple work? Do you have people with potential that you are not exploiting?

Team Sky won the Tour De France by applying the theory of marginal gains – the fact that small changes multiply up to have a large impact. If you can identify and fix even small waste in your business you will see the benefit in productivity, customer satisfaction and, more likely than not, cash flow.

If you’re wondering where to start to identify waste, keep an eye out for our latest infographic for a quick and easy way to spot it in your business.

We’re also offering a limited number of small businesses a FREE training day (worth £1,000’s) to start the process of making their business more efficient. If you could benefit from our expertise get in touch for a no-obligation chat by calling Dinesh on 07885 488716.

Taking steps to run your business more efficiently can seem overwhelming. There’s so much you could tackle, where on earth should you start?

In last month’s blog we explained that the most effective starting point is listening to customers. They will tell you what you’re getting right and – more importantly – what you’re getting wrong.

But once you have information about what your customers think, what do you do with it? Here is our simple guide to using customer feedback information to better understand where you need to make changes.

1 – What are your customers telling you?

First, look at the themes from your customer research. You will be able to put the feedback under broad headings which will give you topics to work with. Examples include customer service, product/service quality, product/service availability, logistics, location and facilities, and billing, but there could be many more which suit your business.

2 – Needs vs want

Now look at the topics you’ve created. They will fall into three categories:

  • Must have – these are the basic things you must deliver. Let’s say you run a coffee shop, the basics will be having coffee to serve when people want to buy it and a place to sit to drink it. However, having more of these things won’t make your customers any happier. So what if you have enough beans for 300 cups of coffee? They only want to buy one
  • Nice to have – the more of these things you provide to customers the happier they will be. So a nice to have in the coffee shop would be a range of cup sizes, different variations of hot drinks and perhaps some cakes and biscuits for customers to buy
  • Delight – these are your key differentiators; the factors which customers don’t expect, but which they are delighted to receive. In the coffee shop that could be a pretty shape on the top of the coffee, hand cream in the toilets or a small free biscuit served with every drink. However, over time customers will come to expect these delight factors, and they will become must-haves

3 – What changes will have the biggest impact?

Our upcoming infographic will show some techniques to work out how you can get to the root of the problems identified by your customer research. It’s important you focus on the cause and not the symptoms.

Once you’ve done that, start by fixing the must-haves, as without getting these right your business is unlikely to survive.

After you’ve ticked these off the list, take a look at the issues in the nice to have category. Getting on top of these will result in a decent leap in customer satisfaction.

In our coffee shop example, you may have had feedback that your coffee is too hot to drink straight away. This is a nice to have factor, which means the more you get this right, the happier customers will be. In order to solve this issue, you could train staff to ensure that all coffee is served at 75oC. Not only has this fixed the problem, but it gives you something against which you can measure performance to make sure it doesn’t continue to be an issue.

Finally, take a look at the delight factors; see these as the ones which will breed loyalty and turn customers into advocates.

4 – Make changes measurable in the future

Having gone to all of the effort to make changes you need to make sure they will stick. The easiest way to do this is to link them to something you can measure – as with the temperature of coffee example. These are your Key Performance Indicators – KPIs.

So, if customers were complaining you often run out of decaf coffee this is a must-have and you’ll need to fix it. But you don’t need to offer three different blends of decaf to meet these customers’ basic needs – and they’re unlikely to be significantly happier if you do. You could measure this by implementing a daily or weekly stock check to ensure there’s always a bag of decaf beans in reserve.

Nailed it?

Not quite. Just because you solve all of the issues your customer feedback identified doesn’t mean you’ve got it sorted. We’ve never been in a more agile and dynamic economy; customer expectations shift quickly – sometimes overnight – so you need to keep asking for feedback and reviewing what changes you need to make.

Continuous improvement is what will keep your business ahead of the competition. And understanding the difference between what your customers need and what they want is critical to making those changes which will have the most impact.

Need some support?

If you want someone to analyse your business and work with you to identify and solve your customer satisfaction issues, give us a call to discuss how we can help. As experts in making businesses run more efficiently, we’ve helped businesses large and small know where to focus on making the biggest difference.

Alternatively, take our FREE e-learning taster course to help you start applying the principles of continuous improvement to your business.

 

Our other online courses are competitively priced and will help people in your business start to get the most out of their time, making small improvements that add up to big impacts.

With January flashing by it’s the natural time to think about business planning and your intentions for this year.

Are you aiming for better growth, increased margins or to consolidate your market share? Do you know there will be hundreds of small tweaks you can make to your business that will contribute significantly to achieving the big goal you’re chasing?

Our aim for 2017

As a relatively new business, we’ve been working hard on defining what we want to achieve and are really clear that we want to apply our decades of experience identifying, making and reaping the rewards of incremental changes in big businesses to Yorkshire’s small business scene.

It’s still a tough marketplace out there. We have seen the transformative impact of applying marginal gains science that got the British Cycling team a clutch of golds in the last three Olympics when they had only won one in the 76 years before – and we want you to benefit from it too.

We’re passionate about helping businesses make – and keep making – small changes that add up to big impacts.

The best thing you can do for your business right now

You might already have continuous improvement on your to-do list for 2017, but the very best thing you can do which will have the biggest ultimate impact on performance is to truly understand whether you’re delivering what your customers want. Because if you aren’t, your business is living on borrowed time.

You can only truly know what your customer is thinking if you’ve asked them, so have a think about these questions:

  • When was the last time you asked your customers how they think you’re doing?
  • Do you know the most common reasons why your customers contact you?
  • Have you ever asked your customers what else you could do to help them?
  • How do you measure success for customer contact in your organisation?

To give you an example of why these questions are important, if you measure your customer care team on the length of time it takes them to answer the phone, how many calls they can handle in a day and how long they spend on the phone, you have no idea whether or not they are successful.

What if the calls they are taking are repeated calls from the same customer? This would mean they haven’t successfully solved the issue. What if customers are calling to complain about the same thing? That would mean there’s a problem elsewhere in the organisation that needs to be fixed.

It’s easy to think you’re measuring success for your business and lose sight of the alignment of your success, with success for your customer.

Five ways to really listen to your customers

It might feel like a big task, but really understanding and hearing your customers boils down to just five simple methods:

  1. Customer surveys – keep them brief but use them often and track the scores. What can you do to improve?
  2. Complaints – what do your customers complain about? Are there any consistent themes? If so, there’s something that needs fixing
  3. Focus groups – this could be as easy as offering to buy dinner for your five key customers and asking for some feedback as you eat
  4. Customer interviews – probably best left to the experts but you could create a “lighter” version by training your team to ask a question at the end of every call
  5. Industry insight – what are the trends in your industry and how are they influencing customer behaviour?

Learn for free!

Did you find these tips useful? Which ones will you try out first in your business? Watch out for our infographic on listening to customers, we’ll be posting it shortly.

If you’re interested in making your business more efficient, why not take our FREE taster course to start applying the principles of operational performance excellence to your business?

Our other online courses are competitively priced and will help people in your business start