In any business, it’s not a question of if things will wrong, it’s when they will go wrong. Sometimes things happen unexpectedly, like a family emergency that keeps you away from the office for a week or two, while sometimes they are a culmination of multiple smaller things finally coming to a head.
Whatever the cause, it’s your responsibility as the entrepreneur to do everything you can to keep your business running smoothly every day. Not only does spending the time to put processes, procedures and controls in place allow you to spend more time on your work and less time putting out fires, you can also save money and prevent disasters that could put a serious dent in the bottom line — or even tank your business.
If you aren’t sure where to start, consider some of these ideas to help your business run smoothly and efficiently every day.
Cross Train Your Employees
Imagine being a customer and calling a business to discuss an issue with your service. The person you should talk to is on vacation, though, and won’t be back for another 10 days. You ask to speak to someone else, but no one else in the company can solve your problem for you, so you’re forced to wait almost two weeks for help — during which time your business loses money and productivity. You probably wouldn’t be very impressed, would you?
Now imagine that it’s your business that someone calls, and there is only one person who can help with that specific issue. You probably think that would be disastrous, and you’re right. That’s why it’s vitally important to cross train your employees, to ensure that everyone knows how to do at least two jobs and can fill in for their colleagues when necessary. Hiring top talent is important — and important to a smooth operation — but a single person shouldn’t be the only one who knows how to use a specific computer program or handle specific queries. There will be times when he or she is out of the office, and you can’t always afford to wait.
Maintain Your Equipment
Broken equipment is a reality of business, whether it’s a copier that’s not working or a piece of heavy machinery that breaks down. In either case, waiting for equipment repairs costs productivity, in addition to the costs associated with fixing the machines.
The best way to avoid this downtime and the headaches it can cause is to properly maintain your equipment and monitor it for trouble. That means following recommended servicing schedules, and if necessary, investing in special tools to monitor your equipment. For heavy machinery, for instance, vibration monitoring services can alert you to issues that you might not notice right away, allowing them to be addressed before they cause a bigger problem that keeps your crew from working. Prevention is as important as a cure when it comes to keeping everything running smoothly, so don’t overlook basic maintenance.
Take Care of Your Employees
One of the biggest problems businesses face are employees who aren’t engaged — and as a result, aren’t productive. When your employees don’t feel appreciated, or like their work isn’t helping to move the company towards a goal, morale declines, and that’s when things start to go wrong. Presenteeism, for example, when employees come to work but aren’t working to full capacity, can result in missed deadlines or poor results. Employees who don’t care are more likely to make mistakes or put in less than their full effort, which contributes to things going wrong.
It’s your job to take care of your employees, so they will share your commitment to making the business thrive and help it move toward its goals. This begins with offering a fair compensation package and includes a meaningful employee recognition program, opportunities for growth and autonomy and trusting them to do their jobs well.
Finally, keeping things smooth requires admitting that you cannot do everything yourself, and that you need help to get things done. Things tend to go wrong in business when a leader attempts to do everything themselves; not only is it likely that deadlines will be missed and mistakes made, but not trusting your employees leads to low morale and reduced engagement. Trusting tasks to people who have the time and skills to handle them — and handle them well — ensures that your company will remain a well-oiled machine.
Again, it’s virtually impossible to prevent your business from experiencing some bumps in the road, but the more you prepare for the unexpected and put plans in place to avoid small issues from becoming big ones, the less likely that your business will falter in the face of adversity.