Some of my past blogs have touched on the need for SMEs today to think outside the square, be innovative and embrace change. We live in an ever-changing world so it’s vital you and your business keep pace.
Today we’ll cover some of the ways you may be able to change your business practices to boost profitability or to save time and improve your quality of life. Although applying to most SMEs there will be a focus on innovation particularly pertinent to service businesses.
Take a moment to think about your day or week in your business. Do you spend a lot of time doing things you don’t like doing or aren’t trained to do? Do you have double handling in your processes? Are there tasks you find you have to do in an office where you would prefer not to be?
Technology, cloud computing, apps, improved internet access and a growth in enterprises taking advantage of these changes provide great opportunities for SMEs to cash in. Here are just a handful of ideas to consider.
- Call handling – Tradies (single operators especially) face constant interruption from customers seeking quotes, making inquiries about services, job progress or accounts. The choice is to answer the calls on someone else’s time (not a good look), or let it go to Messagebank and potentially lose the job. These days you don’t need to employ a receptionist in a bricks and mortar office who you’re paying whether or not they’re busy. Virtual PA services are a great option to consider. Make sure you engage on a time-used or per call basis not on a set fee per day. Google and other platform apps can be utilised to relay messages, make bookings and even handling billing and payments.
- The days of tradies having to return to the office after a hard day and undertake hours of paperwork are gone. A wide variety of apps are available to suit the individual needs of each business. If set up properly tradies can quote onsite quickly, invoice onsite and even take payments (including credit cards) before they leave. More complex apps even allow tracking of work vehicles through GPS. Essentially the more your business can afford to pay the more these apps can do. Many offer free trials and a look on Google will reveal real comparisons posted by users. Always weigh up the actual time you will be spending operating the apps against the time you or someone else spends doing these tasks now so you can decide the real cost or saving of the change.
- Social media – A lot of tradies I deal with are simply not into social media, including those savvy enough to know its value for their business. I was once told social media is for social people. I find this is probably true, but that doesn’t mean the social person has to be the person doing the social media posts. One of my clients, for example, has an extensive social circle and a growing list of followers on Facebook, yet he has never himself been on Facebook or had an account. If you don’t want to get caught up in the social media frenzy that can be time sapping and challenging consider engaging a professional or, as I know another business owner has, just ask a friend who loves Facebook to help out.
These are all simple solutions to some significant issues I’ve found that have been hampering business growth or stopping business people from spending quality time with family or loved ones. Stop and think, is there something in your business holding you back too?
*Written by Carolyn Jeffrey, the principal of CJ’s Business Solutions. For more help with any of the matters covered in this blog visit www.cjsbusinesssolutions.com.au or call 0435 432 203.