It may seem illogical but your busiest time is the best time to improve your business. When your business is too busy, you are often at your breaking point. Things start to go wrong. You have shipping errors, order errors, billing errors, power outages, computer failures, and missed calls. You lose customers and vendors; everything seems to go wrong.
As CIO for a $53 million logistics company, it was critical that our system be available 24/7/365 days a year. One of the system administrators accidentally overwrote a segment of a file system while investigating a slow file backup process. Within a few hours, database corruption brought a critical service in our business to a grinding halt!
The failure crippled our business for three-days until we finally found a good backup and restored the database to operation. It was a hairy, embarrassing situation. When the crisis was over, we reviewed our notes and made plans to avoid this kind of failure in the future. Because we were paying attention and made note of failures as they occurred we identified problems with our processes that we would have never discovered if we did a mental walk-through.
I know what you are probably thinking, as a small business owner you are working 50, 60, 70, 80 hours a week. You family hardly knows you and you haven’t seen the light of day for weeks. It seems impossible to fit another task into your overflowing task list. However, your busiest times are also the best times to identify and make plans to correct the gaps in your services and capabilities often caused by…
Common Causes of Service Failures in Small Business
- Lack of resources
- Inefficient processes
- Lack of standard policies and procedures
- Poor training and poor planning
- Lack of essential automated systems
Three Ways to Improve Your Business During Your Busy Season
- Stop, drop and roll. Do not panic! Every business goes through growing pains, take time to pause and calm your nerves, take a step back and let go of the panic.
- Be observant. Pay attention to what is going wrong and take notes.
- Make a list of what breaks during peak times.
- What suffers most in times of peak activity in your business; Billing, sales, customer service, order processing, shipping, receiving, purchasing?
- What are possible solutions
- Resolve to make corrections. Again, every small business has growing pains. If you ever want to become a large business, you MUST resolve to improve your business operations and create repeatable and automated systems to handle increases in business. if you don’t do this you will never get past that peak season and you WILL lose clients and possibly, in the event of a critical failure, you will go out of business.
Three Ways to Put These Ideas into Action
- Pay attention to broken process, service failures, overtime, and customer complaints.
- Document what happened and note possible solutions WHILE THEY OCCUR or at least immediately after you put out the fire
- Resolve to solve the problem when things slow down and set aside time every week or month to review your list and prioritize the problem to work on next. Set business improvement goals as part of your regular goal setting and planning.
- BONUS: Start today!
What breaks when your business is stressed out and what have you done to avoid the problem in the future? I’d love to hear from you.