It's year-end time again, and like Santa, most business owners are making their lists and checking them twice--trying to see where costs can be minimized. And while budgets will be refined and reworked, vendor charges researched and renegotiated, and purchases revisited and reduced, a lot of times one very costly habit is overlooked: the cost of daily carelessness. Why? Because carelessness happens daily, in myriad ways, across every industry, and thus the consequences are far-reaching. Carelessness signifies time lost doubling back to ask the same question or read the same answer twice. Carelessness causes work to be re-done and clients to become unhappy. Carelessness allows revenues to walk out the door because the moment to connect is ignored. Here are 3 ways you can teach your team to be careful and save your company money in the process.
Give emails a second read. We have been trained in our technology driven world that speed is king. And while it is great to be quick, it is even more important to be efficient. "Quick" results in having to answer 1 email with three separate emails because you read so fast you did not see all the questions on your first read-through. Labor costs. 3 replies require more time and thus more labor than 1. Careful is taking the time to read and re-read the emails you receive and the emails you send. Every line holds the key to making or losing money--in the words written, in the questions asked, and in the uncovering of the unsaid as well. It may take 2 minutes longer than hitting send on the fly, but it avoids missing the opportunities to do more with less. Teach your employees to read every communication twice and watch your savings and your earnings go up.
Look for little mistakes. As business owners, when it comes to cutting costs, we often look for big ticket problems because they are both appalling and glaringly expensive. The reality I have found, however, is that little mistakes are more frequently the cause of the biggest losses. They are often repetitive in nature and add up quickly. A big problem may cost you $1000, so you'll be quick to quash it, but small snafus of only $100 each happen left and right with no alarm bells being sounded. Teach your employees not to hide their errors, but rather to be willing to share them with teammates. Have management shower these problem logs with positive, rather than negative attention, so that the team sees them as a way to learn and grow, never a means of persecution and punishment.
Require good housekeeping. Literally. Piles are places of peril. Whether it's shipments that aren't checked in right away, inboxes that aren't well-organized, or information that is left unshared, messes are money pits. Most people keep stacking, tucking, and storing, telling themselves they have a system, but in reality, they do so because the thought of cleaning up is daunting. I have learned the hard way that clutter always creates chaos and chaos creates cost. Institute a company wide clean-up time every week at the same time during which employees must put everything from desks to computer files in order. Office supplies will suddenly turn up instead of needing to be repurchased, data will become available and shareable by all, and staff will breathe a sigh of relief because they can think clearly and spend more time doing than digging.
Inspiring your team to be careful will do more than any budgetary cost-cutting you can do, because it takes far longer to construct than to destroy.