Changing the Way You Do Business in 2010

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on March 04

While not every company has to work on recession-proofing its business, all businesses should look at ways to maximize what they do and how they do it. The time has come to embrace the "do more with less" mentality in order to help your business survive the current economic climate. Consider the following ways to do this.

1. Start within. It all begins with you. You need to make your business profitable no matter what the state of the economy. Find ways to make your processes and employees more efficient. Get your employees to produce more relevant work to help your company and its products and services move forward. There are many ways to do this and one of the most effective methods is through enhanced training. Many colleges offer affordable noncredit courses where employees can take classes in such things as leadership and management or advanced software training, and many industry-specific associations— which your company likely already belongs to—have local chapters that offer special lunch-and-learn events and seminars at reasonable rates. Sending employees to local trade shows also offers opportunities for them to learn more about your industry. Now is the perfect time to work with your employees to help move your company forward.

2. Protect yourself and look to the future. In an economic downturn, businesses tend to go into protection mode. They stop spending and assess their finances, operations, and sales. Maybe a few adjustments are made, and then a wait-and-see attitude is adopted. What you should be doing is asking questions like: Is there a new process or procedure that we could implement to save money? Are our employees being as productive as we need them to be? What can we stop doing—or how can we change our approach—to transition an expense in one area to improve productivity in another? It is this reexamination of your operation that will drive you to investigate what new options are available. Many businesses that are selling products are now willing to give more than they normally would. If you’re interested in a new technology or service offering, see if you can get a trial version to test it out and make sure it aligns with your business initiatives before signing a contract. Other technologies will allow you to integrate with your existing applications, which also means more money in your pocket by not having to rid yourself of your current system, or buy yet another new software product that will work with a new purchase.

The "do more with less" mentality isn’t just about saving money; it’s about transforming your business processes. Find ways to improve your constituent services with ways that will also help you improve efficiency and garner a definable ROI.

David Cuthbert
Chief Operating Officer
Alteva
Philadelphia

Reader Comments

Manny

March 4, 2010 02:15 PM

Learn from companies who do more with less 365 days a year and forever. Not the ones who suddenly wakes up and starts making cuts, after years of operating beyond their means. For odd insights: http://www.emmanuelomikunle.blogspot.com

Dr.Tena Alamirew & Prof.PM Rao

March 4, 2010 09:03 PM

To make the organisation successful and more profitable,a drastic change is essential.There is an important technique,Business Process Re engineering,which will bring desired changes,very fast and will lead to total quality management in any organisation.
Business process reengineering (BPR) consists of radically transforming organizational processes through the optimal use of information technologies (IT) to achieve major improvements in quality, performance, and productivity. It is known to produce highly positive results for firms, including significant reductions in costs, errors, and times, increased customer satisfaction, and better overall organizational efficiency and effectiveness
However, to gain these advantages, a specific set of conditions must be met:
(1) The BPR project must have the visible commitment and full support of top management
(2) A multidisciplinary and multifunctional steering committee must be formed and assigned to the project
(3) An explicit methodology must be rigorously followed
(4) Enterprises must comply with the fundamental principles of BPR to reap its potential benefits.
Compliance with BPR Principles
• The first dimension focuses on the project's organizational perspective: it challenges long-time company traditions and business practices, defines business processes around company objectives, develops a cross-sectional view of business functions, and implements customer-dependent business processes.
• A second dimension relates to the autonomy of processes: decision points and control mechanisms are built into these processes to ensure its smooth integration.
• A third dimension concerns the integration of information: using one-time data capture at the source, eliminating intermediate steps in the process, and identifying technological levers before reorganizing business processes.
Their diverse experience, viewpoints, and ideas are factors that will increase the probability of success. In turn, owner-managers must visibly demonstrate a high level of interest in and support for the project. This includes continuous encouragement and supervision of the project leader and team, financial support when necessary, and open communication with employees.
It is important to reiterate that BPR is profitable for both SMEs and large enterprises. Although BPR projects were often implemented under conditions that were far from ideal, small and medium-sized firms nevertheless seemed to draw significant advantages from them. Thus, improving the organizational, managerial, and technical dimensions related to BPR project success can be viewed as opportunities for those wishing to outperform their competitors.

PMG kalyan chakravarthi

March 6, 2010 10:28 PM

People now a days have become busy,wise, quality oriented,and also cost conscious.Business also has to move as per the needs of the customers.Finding new ways of marketing is of prime concern to meet the stiff competition.The product or service should be innovative,dynamic,and more user friendly,without compromising on quality and cost.Advanced technology of manufacturing has to be adopted to make his product a unique one.Simultaneously available media has to be widely used to bring it the knowledge to the masses.Now a days electronics is doing wonders. Wherever possible information technology has to be adopted.

Gourab Nanda

March 9, 2010 03:17 AM

Work culture is not what it used to be. The trend of having one centralized office with employees coming in from nine to five is slowly fading away. The nature of work environment has changed significantly with work being distributed across geographies and time zones.

Small businesses can develop a virtual workforce model.

Keep in mind that almost all business activities can be virtualized today. For instance, your sales team can be at three different locations, the executive team can be at two different locations, the team managing accounting and payroll could be in a different country altogether, and still your company can operate efficiently and effectively. You will have a single central office, but your workforce would be distributed – working from home and collaborating virtually through various online tools.

In a survey of US businesses with between 20 and 99 employees, the Yankee Group found that 79% had virtual workers, with an average of 11 virtual workers per company and 54% had telecommuters, with an average of eight telecommuters per company. It is estimated that over 100 million US workers will work virtually by 2010.

Some small businesses even run in a 100% virtual work environment. Although there are several challenges in a virtual environment, but there are none that cannot be solved through effective management, online collaboration, and use of web-based virtual office tools. Business activities like back-office administration, accounting and bookkeeping, 24×7 customer service, and online marketing deliver beautifully in a virtual environment.

I am sure your small business might be having at least a few portions of your business activities done by virtual employees. If not, then it is time to consider virtual workforce model. It makes tremendous economic and business sense as it offers you the reach to a global workforce, best talents, most suitable rates, greater efficiency, and above all the freedom and flexibility to get work done from anywhere, anytime. A virtual workforce also reduces your business overheads significantly in terms of physical workspace and infrastructure maintenance. Working virtually is also helpful for your employees as they can save time and money in commuting.

Prof.P.Madhu Sudana Rao

March 11, 2010 07:38 AM

The most important principle of finance management is:”Risk return Trade off, meaning important business decisions have to be taken after calculating the risk associated with it. Usually high risk must be followed by high return and vice versa is true .A trader has to constantly search for various opportunities where risk is low and return is high.
In any business risk is always associated. There are methods and techniques to overcome them and hence manageable. Cost of risk is to be calculated and then only a business decision has to be taken.
Today’s business is complex, dynamic and intensely competitive, in business and global arena. Every organization has to perform risk management practices to run the organization on successful lines.
"All management people need to understand this vital technique so that they can help their companies analyze and manage financial and operational risk." For example, an unexpected event that causes an adverse impact on an organization's profitability also may have a negative effect on its cash flows and over an extended period of time.
There are three basic categories of risk response:
• accept the risk,
• avoid the risk,
• or reduce the risk

In order to fully understand whether avoiding risk was a good decision, organizations need to know the total costs-both direct and indirect--associated with the response to be able to compare it to accepting or avoiding the risk.
The most traditional form of risk avoidance involves insuring tangible assets through insurance policies. In recent years, insurance policies have extended beyond traditional fixed assets to risks associated with events. Regardless of the underlying tangible asset or other operating feature being insured, there is a cost associated with insurance that most people understand--the premiums that must be paid on an ongoing basis to remain insured.
Organizations have traditionally protected themselves from investment risks by entering into hedges to limit losses associated with unfavorable movements in economic variables, such as exchange rates, interest rates, and commodity prices. While some types of hedges involve the natural offsetting of cash flows within a business, it is not uncommon for hedging strategies to include the use of derivative instruments to reduce unwanted risks. Examples include futures and options contracts as well as swap agreements
The formation of a strategic alliance is a risk-response strategy when companies seek to manage their own risk exposures by utilizing the resources of other organizations to achieve their own objectives.
Examples of strategic alliances include the supply chain relationships formed between organizations that depend on one another for the delivery of raw materials, inventory components, and essential services. When an organization requires specialized knowledge or processes that are beyond its current capabilities, the use of third parties who possess the necessary expertise can lead to reduced risk exposure as well as the realization of cost savings and other efficiencies. The inherent risks associated with this type of outsourcing may result in an organization facing additional costs to preserve the loyalty of its customer base and the value of its brand, if disruptions occur in the supply chain.

Prof.P.M Rao

March 18, 2010 08:01 AM

The following customer retention strategies apply for any business, large or small:
• Reward your customers. Send them a gift, provide them with a lead; help them generate business.
• Use your customers’ services and buy their products. There is no better way to build loyalty.
• Return phone calls promptly. Since so many people don’t return calls, you automatically gain an advantage when you do.
• Under-promise and over-deliver.
• Be accessible. Show customers that you are available and willing to help them whenever there is a problem. Your business should be open to meet the convenience needs of your customers.
• Be credible. If you don’t establish trust right away, potential customers may jump to your competitors.
• Appearance counts. Perception is reality, and the reality is that people do judge a book by its cover.
• Stay in touch. Remember the best customers are your current ones. Don’t take them for granted. Keep on top of their wants and needs.
• Have a “Goof Kit” to send to customers if you make a mistake. Just saying, “I’m sorry” is not enough.
• Promote customers’ products and services. By bringing business to your clients, you ensure you will have a customer for life.
• Make it as easy as possible for your customers to do business with you. Do things for the customer’s convenience, not yours. The easier you can make it for your customer to do business with you, the more business you will have. Determine all the ways you can eliminate the “hassle factor.”
• Periodically send customers an invoice stamped “no charge.” This will help your customers remember you. If it is unexpected it will have a greater impact.
• Establish a customer advisory panel. Only by knowing your customers’ wants and needs can you successfully grow your business and be totally customer-oriented.
• Hire mystery shoppers to find out how good your customer service really is.
• Be a resource. No matter what your customer needs, try to find it for him, even if it has nothing to do with your business.
• Shower customers with kindness.
• Speak your customer’s language. Don’t use jargon they can’t understand.
• Have a great attitude.
• Treat your employees well. If they are treated poorly, there is a good chance they’ll treat your customers badly.
• Give your customers what they want, when they want it, the way they want it.
• Give back to your best customers. If you run a special price or product offer for first-time customers, make sure to offer a promotion to your current customers.
• Never show indifference toward your customers. In a recent study on why people stopped dealing with a company, 68% said they left because of an attitude of indifference by the owner, manager or employees.
Conclusion
Superlative customer service involves more than just training people to smile. It’s about treating people the way they wanted to be treated—giving clients what they want, when they want it and how they want it. It really comes down to the fact that good communication and human relations skills equal good customer relations.

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