Whether you run a business or you have simply been tasked with figuring out how to make improvements within a single department, there are several key areas you can examine to determine where improvement may be needed. A process of business analysis can help you identify both problems and potential solutions. Some of those solutions may be specific to certain departments, but in other situations, a certain quality or ethos might be missing at a company level. In some cases, there might be an issue with people or processes, but in other situations, it might simply be a question of having the right tools for the job.
If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself in a triage situation in which you are trying to save a business, looking at the financials and finding a way to slash costs should be your first port of call. Even if the situation is not yet that serious, reviewing finances should be one of the first places to look. It is not uncommon for a company owner to have little insight into what is happening on a day-to-day level. Operating costs in a fleet can seem as though they are spiraling out of control and may be difficult to assess. This could be addressed by having the right fleet management platform in order to put money back in your pocket. This tool would help the fleet manager determine where the inefficiencies are and begin working on how to improve them.
Managing Customer Satisfaction and Expectation
Second only in importance to finances is the customer or client. If you don’t have them, you don’t have a business any longer. However, there is more to fixing things in the customer arena than the customer is always right, and in fact, that mantra might just be doing more harm than good in some circumstances. It’s important to look at the quality of the customer as well. If 80% of your efforts are going to support and satisfy 20% of your clients, that’s not really a problem if that support is going to the top spending and most loyal clients. It’s a big problem if you’re siphoning off resources that should be directed toward those loyal customers and putting it toward those who require a huge amount of effort for very little reward.
This is a delicate balance. Unless your brand is specifically focused on the high end, you don’t want to get a reputation for ignoring the little guy, and attracting and retaining new customers is always important. At the same time, you have a finite number of resources, and you need to use them efficiently. There is a reason some freelancers talk about firing clients who become too troublesome. If your business operates in a retail environment, loyalty programs can be an excellent way to identify and reward your best customers while also gathering more granular data about their preferences and behaviors. Surveys can also help you better understand your customers.
In some departments or companies, there is a leadership vacuum. This can occur when there is no leader or at all or when a leader is ineffective. The result is an unmotivated and aimless staff. A lack of collaboration and energy often points to this lack. In some cases, the answer may simply be more training for would-be leaders, but in other cases, a reorganization might be necessary.
Even when leadership is strong, teams might not be cohering as well as they should be. If this is identified as an area that needs improvement, the next step is to get more specific about what the precise issue is. A manager might be good at developing employee potential but not at improving team collaborations and building relationships between team members. This can be even more challenging if all or part of the team is remote. Another potential disruptor is interpersonal problems between employees themselves. How this should be addressed will vary based on the underlying cause. As with a leadership vacuum, reorganization could be the answer. Identifying individual strengths and weaknesses, understanding what each person needs to do their job and finding ways to build relationships may all be part of the solution.
Employee satisfaction matters because happy employees are more productive, and it is generally less costly to retain people than to constantly hire and retrain new ones. However, there is another reason that employee satisfaction should be on the radar of anyone looking to make department-wide or company-wide improvements, and that is because finding out the reasons that employees are dissatisfied is sometimes the quickest route to figuring out what may be going wrong. In some workplaces, a quick chat with multiple employees might reveal inefficient processes or a lack of team cohesion. Of course, it is always important to dig deeper and find out if there are underlying problems, but employees can provide valuable information. Regular satisfaction surveys can help companies address small problems before they become big ones.