Last week, I wrote an article about the unintended consequences that our governments entitlement programs are having on businesses in the service industry. They are driving up wages, increasing turnover, and driving down margins and profitability. The two part solution to this problem involves utilizing technology to maximize efficiency and to know your numbers. Here are some specifics on utilizing technology to maximize the efficiency of your business:
1) Your systems must be cloud-based. This gives your team the ability to log in from any where on any device and access necessary information in real time. This eliminates the need to spend time sending other people instructions that they can simply log in and retrieve. The days of waiting until you get back to the office to check on things are over.
2) Your systems must be integrated with a bi-directional sync. Integration is the passing of information freely from one system to another. This could be from your CRM, to your operating system, to QuickBooks, etc. Regardless of what systems you are using, integration will ensure that information is passing freely and available in real time when you need it. It also eliminates one of the deadliest business sins of all known as "duplicate data entry.” If you are entering data twice from paper or excel, you are wasting precious time.
3) Automate as many of your processes as you can. Automating recurring tasks can be a huge time saver. For example, if you are typing out work orders for your team on a daily basis, having an operating system that creates automated templates can allow you to transfer the same information with a click.
4) In the field, find any manual functions that you can mechanize. We are still a ways from having robots complete all of our manual functions in the field, but there are plenty of cost-effective options available to begin mechanizing functions one at a time.
At Swift Straw, we are using a CRM called Sales Loft to provide high quality leads at a rapid rate, SingleOps as our cloud-based operating system, and QuickBooks as our financial software. All three are cloud based and fully integrated. In addition, the majority of our main recurring functions are now accomplished through automated email. We are also utilizing two virtual assistance companies, EA Help and Ruby Receptionists, that help with taks such as answering phones, seasonal admin tasks, and social media assistance. In the field, we are applying mechanization to as many harvesting and packaging functions as we can. These are examples of some of the ways we are fighting the unintended consequences. I will wrap this series up later this week with some specifics on knowing your numbers. Until then, I encourage you to do your own research and find the right innovative technological solutions for your business so that you don’t only survive, but thrive.