The more soloists can create standard business procedures for what they do, the more efficient, productive and consistent they will be. Activities that can be proceduralised are often low cost and result in big payoffs.
Here are seven easy ideas for increasing productivity by creating standard business procedures.
1. Create a standard email skeleton which includes your greeting, signoff and company logo. Use this for all your emails so all you need to do is add the relevant text in the middle.
2. If you find yourself repeating the same information time and again, create and save standard paragraphs that can be cut and pasted into your emails, proposals and communications. Terms and conditions, approach, services, proposal outlines and frequently asked questions are all examples of copy that can be prepared in advance
3. Define the major processes underpinning your usual business activities, and describe how you complete each process. Document these in a central location, and turn each one into a checklist so you never deviate from the key steps in the process.
4. Establish a set of delivery standards so your customers have clear expectations about what they’ll get and when. Even if you give guidelines around likely timeframes for small, medium and large jobs, this is better than providing no information until later in the process.
5. Put consistency into your calendar. All businesses have recurring jobs, such as bookkeeping, writing and answering emails. Create a recurring schedule (quarterly, monthly or weekly) to get these things done, and stick to it rigidly.
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6. Look at how you can automate your business. Automatic replies to emails, enquiries and sales are easily managed through shopping carts and autoresponders. Speak to an IT person about ways to take yourself out of the process.
7. Give your business the “mystery shopper” treatment. Get a friend to email, call, enquire through your website, and basically contact your business every possible way. Review the consistency of the messages, images and information coming from all different sources. You’ll be surprised at the variation customers experience at different touchpoints.
What steps have you taken to standardise your business processes? Has creating standard business procedures helped improve efficiency? Let us know via a comment.