Operational streamlining can be dread-inducing, which is why so many businesses find excuses to put it off.
"We should wait until things slow down."
"It's first on our to-do list when there's more cash flow."
"We'll make that next year's new years resolution!"
There are lots of reasons for putting it off, but streamlining now means being able to save money during lean times and increase profits when business is booming. Streamlining now also means less waste. Management is a business of details and when the focus on those details is inadequate, things start to slip and operations performance suffers. From there, it isn’t long before customers and clients start to complain of inadequacies and word of mouth snowballs into loss of business.
There are some serious pitfalls to avoid while attempting to streamline though, and if these are not avoided they can have the same negative effects as random management. Here are some of the most common of those mistakes to be avoided:
1. Inadequate operational budgeting
The streamlining initiative must not be at the expense of the operational budget, or the business' reputation for quality and excellence will quickly suffer, even if it is only due to minor deficiencies. The operating budget includes the cost of all equipment needed to run the business and the myriad supplies needed. When any of these expected services or amenities are missing or downgraded, it is quickly noted by customers.
2. Insufficient attention to legal issues
In the hotel industry, for instance, sometimes omitted in the streamlining effort are things like contracts for special events, banquets, sales, maintenance contracts, and some commercial contracts. Accounting and billing information must not be under-estimated, because they can literally be the lifeblood of operations. Even more legal requirements lurk in statutory taxes, payroll deductions, social security laws, labor laws, and employee insurances – all of these must be adequately attended. Property management software can be a real boon in this regard, because it incorporates all the various functions of hotel management into one package that can be fingertip-controlled at a single source.
3. Inadequate market presence
When streamlining cuts into a business's presence on the Internet or its marketing initiatives it becomes counter-productive, because in modern times market presence trumps all else. Since so many transactions are made online after having conducted a search for the perfect product or service, maintaining a strong web presence is paramount. For the same reason, marketing strategies must incorporate the Internet as a key vehicle by which clientele will be targeted. This is not the budget to skimp on.
4. Human resources mistakes
Finding the right personnel to manage and perform operational activities in the business is vitally important, since each and every one of these employees is an ambassador for the company, and they are each a reflection of the business itself. Training all these employees is likewise important, and for the same reason – employees who do their jobs well and satisfy clients are great representatives of the company, whereas under-trained, inappropriate personnel reflect poorly on the establishment.
5. Lack of operational meetings
Having everyone on the same page is one of the things that helps keep a business running smoothly, and one of the best ways to ensure that smoothness is to schedule regular meetings which address all operational issues. It may cost a little time and effort to conduct these, but a well-ordered routine makes it worthwhile.
6. Insufficient customer service
The focus of good customer relations and service should always be to fulfill the desires of the customer, and overlooking those will generally result in loss of business. Some roadblocks to providing great customer service are bureaucratic restrictions, like paperwork and other "chain of command" issues, over and underworked staff, staff that isn't trained well, a culture of apathy, no real incentives for good customer service, and insufficient systems. Streamline the customer service operations so that the systems are all updated with current customer information, and that the information is easily accessible. Nothing makes a customer more angry than a customer service rep that doesn't know who they are, or what their history with the business is.
Yes, it can be daunting, but in most cases, streamlining is crucial to increasing your company's efficiency and profit. As you create your strategy, make sure you avoid the above operational mistakes by asking yourself the right questions. Poke and prod at your expenses and be sure there's a good reason for each. If you're unsure about cutting a certain costly element from your business--really assess if it will sacrifice the quality of your product. If the answer is a resounding "no"--get it out of there!