Simple Tricks to Boost Business Productivity

As a small business owner, you know very well how hard it can be when you go through a slower period. If this is one of your first dips, it may even be difficult to determine whether or not this is a permanent thing or just another bump in the road – and you’d probably be looking for all the help you can get.

Luckily, there are tried-and-tested ways to boost your business performance even when your startup is going through a bit of a slump. Here is a handful of ways to make it happen so that you can get back on track and grow even bigger and stronger.

First: Reward productivity

Let’s start with the easiest one first. As you know, a company is nothing without its employees; and, as their manager, it’s important that you know how to reward hard work. There are a lot of ways to do this, though, and one of the best ways is to reward the entire team together in order to strengthen their bond and make sure that each employee is noticed.

Treat them to a dinner or lunch as a team after you’ve delivered a big project, for example, or take them out for a team-building experience. While you may not notice the benefits of this straight away, it will definitely have a lot to say for how the team works together in the future.

Another point to this that goes beyond rewards is to ensure that your business has access to the kind of tools that will make it more productive. Consider talking to a CRM consultant, first of all, and you’ll be a bit closer to running the kind of business you’ve had in mind.

Next: Give your team a pep talk

The problem with a business slump isn’t just that the sales are declining and that the office is slow and boring; your employees may be starting to feel a bit dull as well. You definitely need them to have your back, though, and especially now when you’re about to make things kick off again.

Give them a proper pep talk and let them know how much you appreciate their hard work. Remember to acknowledge the downtime, though, rather than just ignoring the fact that everything has been slow for a while. Your employees will surely help you out as long as you take some time to have a chat with them and keep them up to date.

Improve your communication tools

Finally, it’s time to have a look at the kind of tech tools you’re using. By improving the tools your employees are using for communication and collaboration, you might be able to inject some much-needed productivity into the office.

So many small and medium-sized businesses suffer from a lack of communication between the different professionals and it will, undoubtedly, make your business suffer. Take care of these simple tricks, and your business will be so much easier to manage.

Always Search For Better Technology-Based Solutions

You might be a small business but you are not limited in scope. You have the power to reach out to everybody in the world and that’s exactly the mentality you should have. With modern technology there’s nothing that’s out of your control. Perhaps the biggest concern small enterprises have is the fact that you could be technologically behind the larger corporations. This is true in a sense because multinational companies often build their own internal software or hire the absolute best in their field. Then they often design software that is only relevant for their business and with this clear advantage they are able to keep their noses in front of smaller businesses. In this sense, you are potentially in a race to overcome them in the field of technology-based solutions for your business.

Project organization

Project management is where productivity can either die or thrive. For a small business productivity is not something that can be taken for granted as you need each employee to be worth their weight in gold. Where the confusion of who is doing what and what is needed to be done for each task occurs, is at the online level of task allocation and the chain of completion. You should always be on the lookout for the latest project or task management software both in the free to use category and the subscription based style. Look for the general task management software but also the specialized interfaces that have been designed for your industry alone. The features are always more important that the usability as the latter can oftentimes be subjective but lacking features can hinder your productivity rate.

Fault in the line

Software is prone to errors and thus technology can never be relied upon. Don’t expect all your employees to understand the inner workings of each software their use to fulfil their roles either. That would simply take too much time of learning and experimenting rather than completing projects. So hire a company with professional Computer IT Services that offers proactive monitoring of your technologies. Whenever there is a fault in the line, such as a corrupt file that is refusing to open, an update that potentially has malware, this team can detect it for you. Catching a problem early, you can help employees continue on their roles by fixing a coding error much quicker.

Supply chain management

Working with so many different suppliers can get confusing. Quality control can leap out of the window when you don’t have full control of the supply chain. You should always be searching for industry specific supply chain management software. Even more so, search for sector specific software which can narrow down exactly what your supply chain needs are. Include your managers in this discussion as they will be the people who will be using it in their daily tasks.

Never stand still and be content with your software selections. Small businesses have the pick of the lot as free and paid software solutions are available for supply chain management and project organization. Employing a team to check up on the status and health of your software greases the wheels and keeps the ship moving through the waves.

5 Safety Tips to Keep in Mind While Leasing a New Office Space

Leasing a new office space can be an exciting venture in your path to success within your business. The feeling of having a space that you can call your own and personalize to your liking is incomparable to anything else in business. However, we can often get so wrapped up in the details and excitement that we sometimes forget to take certain safety precautions before signing the lease. Below are some recommendations that will ensure the safety of not only yourself, but your employees and clients as well.

ASSESS IMMEDIATE SURROUNDINGS

Being aware of your surroundings is of crucial importance when leasing a new office space. Familiarize yourself with everything within a two-block radius at minimum. Here are a few things to look for when assessing your immediate surroundings.

  • Crime Rates and Statistics in the area
  • Well-lit outer building and parking area
  • Noisy or disruptive neighbors
  • Make sure that your space is handicap accessible

CONSULT WITH A LOCKSMITH

No matter what measures that you as a business owner take to protect your office space as well as the employees and customers that will be entering, the efforts will be meaningless if the foundation can be easily compromised. Having a licensed locksmith ensure that all of the windows, doors, and AC units are properly secured is a priceless step that should be one of your first tasks.

Along with properly secured doors and windows, a solid security system should be put into place. There are many cases as to where a person may be working overtime or late on a project. Their safety needs to be considered while working alone in a building as well as walking to their vehicle alone, especially at night.

BUILDING INSPECTION

Structures can often seem normal or intact to the untrained eye, with no real knowledge of what lies underneath. Never take a landlord’s word about the condition of a building. Conduct your own inspections, preferably through a professional whenever possible. No amount of money is worth compromising your health and/or safety. A few things to check for are:

  • Weak Foundations
  • Mold (Very harmful to one’s health)
  • Leaky Faucets and Pipes (Can cause extreme damage and ruin to the contents in your office).
  • Signs of Infestations (mice, rats, termites, etc.)

READ THE LEASE CAREFULLY

It is important to go through the entire lease with a fine-tooth comb. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a leasing agent or your lawyer to take a look at the lease with you. Whatever the case, a person that is extremely familiar with leasing jargon needs to overlook the lease before it is signed. You need to be clear on what the landlord is responsible for versus what the tenant is responsible for as far as utility and repair costs. Also familiarize yourself with what actions would be considered as grounds for termination of the lease.

INVESTIGATE THE LANDLORD

Keep in mind that this is the person who you will have to deal with for the duration of your lease. Take precautions to make sure that they are reputable and honest. Conduct backgrounds checks, reference checks, search for any complaints of fraud, and even consult with current and former tenants if you are comfortable with doing so. Also, if they are leasing out spaces under a business name, look into checking on their status with the Better Business Bureau.

The suggestions mentioned above may seem like a lot of precautions to take in the beginning. But remember, getting these precautions out of the way prior to signing the lease will ensure your comfort and safety in the future. You will potentially eliminate a great deal of hassle and costs in the long run. The quicker that you utilize these safety tips while leasing a new office space, the sooner you can get to making money.

Emma is a business strategist-turned blogger. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand. Emma is a  passionate traveler and yoga aficionado. She is in love with coffee, interior design, books, and good vibes. 🙂 

How to Set up Retail Employees to be More Efficient

It’s important in the retail industry that work be done efficiently. Whether it’s working at the register, restocking merchandise, or answering customer questions, there’s not a lot of time to spare. When employees are not efficient, this often leads to a significant decrease in customer satisfaction, sales, and overall company productivity. Of course, this isn’t always the employees’ fault. With various tasks comes time wasted by nature, but with modern advances in retail technology, you can help them cut down on that waste and make the most out of their most productive hours. The following are a few ways you can tackle this problem to help to ensure that your retail employees have all the tools they need to prevent any time being wasted.

Time Management

Clocking in and out in of itself can be a major time-waster. While the punch card shows when they officially clocked in, that doesn’t account for the time that they waited in line with the others on their shift to punch in, or the time it takes for them to put their card away, get ready, and get to their station. The same problem comes with clocking out, but your employees are still required to work the same set hours, which means that they’re wasting clocked-in time just working around the time management system. By leveraging the power of cloud-based solutions for clocking employees in, employees can clock in without having to wait in line or fumble with old-fashioned punch card machines. Clocking in and out for lunches and shifts will be much more efficient when your employee can clock in from their phone, saving their frustration as well as the time you’re paying for.

Organization

Organization is a critical aspect towards encouraging your employees to engage in and maintain increased efficiency. Nothing wastes time more than when an employee is constantly stuck looking for the items they need to do their job, rather than actually doing their job. Setting aside lockers or designated shelves for employees to keep their belongings and equipment will reduce wasted time and even reduce the instances of lost or broken equipment. This saves your company in both time and costs, as well as shows your employees that you are aware of their needs and working to help them succeed.

Improved Communications

One area often overlooked for improving employee efficiency is in the area of general in-house communications. The use of Motorola 2 way radios in NYC retail businesses can lead to significant increases in response time and team work from your employees. Calling out on the intercom isn’t an efficient or effective way to get the right employee to the right place for customer assistance, or for any task for that matter. Being able to address employees directly and privately through two-way radios allows for employees to address one another as a group or get the attention of an individual employee as needed. By utilizing the services of unified communication installation experts to make this type of efficient employee-to-employee communication possible, customers will be thrilled with the increase in service efficiency.

The Company Newsletter

A great way to keep your employees informed on how to ramp up efficiency in the workplace is by providing tips and insights through a companywide employee newsletter. This can be especially helpful for new employees who may not yet be fully aware of all of your company’s policies and procedures. The tips being provided can help to inform employees, both new and old, on how to improve their own efficiency on the job. This also will help with quickly and effectively alerting all employees to changes in shift schedules, policy adjustments, and extra-hours opportunities in a way that they can reference later as needed.

By taking these steps to improve your company efficiency, it will be much easier to cut down on wasted time. Retail employees are generally paid by the hour, which means that time is money in this industry, money that no one can afford to waste. If these solutions don’t appeal to you, try holding an open meeting with your employees to see if they are aware of any issues that make their job harder and impede their productivity. Maintaining open communication with your employees can help reap great benefits and give you the feedback you need to ensure optimum efficiency in your business.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

Modern Problems Require Modern Solutions

Ensuring your business can ever be one step ahead of the curve first requires it to be absolutely located within the present. Businesses might not be present in their aesthetic or theming, but in their practical running and development, they need to be. Even businesses that pride themselves on the age of their product ingredients such as decades-old whisky will never used decades-old solutions to business problems that are considered today. It’s put simply in the phrase: modern problems require modern solutions. This means that if you ever hope to push forward, you need a solid base from which to push.

As a business leader, it can be hard to keep your finger on the pulse. The trends of business life often seem to flow around us, and it can be hard to decide if we want to jump into this tide or to try to follow this while also dictating our own unique spin on things. With the following advice we should help any new business keep on top of the pressing trends current in 2019:

Changing Consumer/Business Relationships

The business relationship has started to shift between the customer and the business they hope to interact with. While the same time-honored laws of interpersonal trade still apply, that is consumers will likely offer you money to purchase your good or service, you have to provide a sense of immediate aftercare for this transaction. Complaints should be recorded efficiently and capably, and acted on if they have any merit. Bringing your support context to them through the use of social media IM features is one of the norms that more and more companies have started adopting, because it reduces the load on your call centres and can help the client feel as though they’ve been given a wise and fair speed of treatment.

Some businesses offer a money back guarantee if the customer isn’t happy with the good or service, and social media has given people of all kinds the power to denounce or appreciate that which your business does. If you look at any online review website, you’ll see the business trying to carefully respond to negative reviews, perhaps apologising for their experience and offering them a better time if they come in next. The power has absolutely shifted in favor of the consumer, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It simply means that more departments need to operate with PR in mind, and any business decision must be made in the light of the consumer, as they have more power to affect your bottom line than ever before. It just takes one highly-followed person to positively or negatively tweet about you to affect your share price slightly. For this reason, pay attention to this changing relationship, and do what you can to preserve it.

Data Management

Data management is essential to consider in the modern day. Not only are vast amounts of data created in the daily functioning of your firm, but not all data is created equal. Some is simple and basic, some is highly sensitive. Some is generated by the activities your firm embarks upon, some data is freely given to you in order for a customer to interface with your firm accurately. Some data is relatively useless and simply a by-product of the IT functioning of your office, some can be analyzed in order to predict spending patterns and just who you should be advertising to.

Data is perhaps too vast a term to gain any immediate definition of. But handling all of this data well, adhering to the most present data collection policy and ensuring a privacy disclaimer on your website and sales contracts will ensure that you are both trusted and  held to the standard necessary to function with this at your side. Using a service such as the Gartner master data management report can help you learn sustainable methods of handling data, taking a quite intimidating proposition and turning it something you will thrive in.

Corporate Espionage

Corporate espionage seems like a silly thing, as if it was only localized in noir movies in the late 50’s.  We think of a long shadow against the wall in a smoky office, as a spy ruffles through the papers to find out just what his neighbouring business is up to. Unfortunately, this quite attractive image isn’t the reality in the modern day, but corporate espionage does still exist, and is much more refined than you might know. It all takes place in cyberspace.

While staff vetting is of course important, most system trespassing is now done online, and can be prevented by using VPNs, ensuring staff exercise a high level of personal security over their workflow modules, and that high-profile messages within the top levels of your firm are on a need-to-know and encrypted basis. Keeping tight control of the narrative at the top can ensure that your business is always in control of that it hopes to keep secretive.

Accelerated Innovation

Innovation seems to happen at rocket-speed in the modern day. This is great for consumers, but sometimes worrying for businesses. Businesses often worry that their competition will somehow develop a new method of crafting their product that will cut costs significantly, undercutting the price of the competition to a strong degree. Sometimes a company releases a product so successful that its actual presence becomes the moniker of what that product category is – such as how ‘iPhone’ became more than just its brand name in common parlance.

The only counter to this you have is to invest in your research and development, to constantly experiment and generate your take on the winning formula. But also, to become known for the brilliance surrounding your effort, such as your excellent customer support, or your willingness to be a positive player in your industry, or to care about ethical standards.While modern solutions are always important, sometimes it’s the timeless ones that have the most impact.

With these tips, you’re sure to keep on top of the shifting tides of business modernity.

Opening a Brick-and-Mortar Business? 4 Plumbing Mistakes to Avoid

Opening a brick-and-mortar business can be a very exciting yet challenging time. There are many things you need to take into consideration, such as plumbing. Unfortunately, there are many common plumbing mistakes you will want to avoid. They can end up costing a lot of money in the long run, which can take away from your company’s overall profits. The following information takes a closer look at four common plumbing mistakes you’ll want to watch out for:

Rushing to Meet a Deadline

When opening a new business, it is likely that you are working to meet a deadline. Rushing your plumbing can be a huge mistake. You will want to make sure you take your time and that everything is done correctly. If you are in a hurry, you will be more likely to make errors, which can cost you a lot of money later on down the line.

Over-Tightening

Over-tightening connections is another common error. If you make tubes, bolts, and pipes too tight, they can eventually crack. It may not be immediate, but it can happen over time and cause severe leaks, which, as previously mentioned, can cause a lot of damage and be costly to repair.

Overusing Drain Cleaners

Many people use drain cleaners as their first line of defense when any plumbing issues arise. However, drain cleaners can damage pipes over time and lead to leaks. Therefore, if you have a clogged drain, you should consider more effective and safe methods, such as using a drain snake.

Using Mix-Matched Piping

One of the most common plumbing mistakes is using different pipes together that aren’t quite matches. You will want to ensure that you’re using pipes that are the same size and material. Using galvanized pipes with copper pipes, for example, can lead to unexpected corrosion and leaks. You will want to avoid this at all costs because leaks can cause water damage and mold. In order to avoid this, you should consider hiring a professional to complete your pipework installation. A professional will be able to quickly complete the job without errors, which will make it easier for you to meet your deadline. 

Overall, effectively completing the plumbing for your new business can be a challenging task. This is why you should conduct the proper research so you are able to use the correct methods. If you are a beginner when it comes to plumbing, DIY may not always be the best option. Often, you can save money in the long run by hiring a professional, who can ensure that it is done correctly the first time around.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

Project Managing: The Changing Flow Of Customer Desires

When you begin a project in business, you quite clearly have an aim in mind. That aim might be to increase your customer base, reach out further on social media, create a new product that will flesh out your line or even just to gauge what consumers want these days. Whatever the case may be, you have to admit that you are at first going to be perplexed at the worldview you run into. It’s not unusual, to imagine how your project will go but it ends up being completely different due to the new information you collate. For this reason, leading a project itself is quite daunting. Not only do you have to try very hard to stick to initial plans but if and or when you do see the market shifting you have to accommodate that too. Customer trends always change, but the reason for why they change isn’t that difficult to understand if you are keeping your fingers on the pulse. When managing a project you will also need to make sure that you are absorbing any new information to then discuss and implement in the project itself.

Note the unexpected

One of the things that any new project will have to do is to contact the public and see what their opinion is on your initial approach or idea. Quite simply, this means sending out email survey campaigns to all your customers, to people who have shopped with you and of course to your business clients. Usually in these email surveys you will have some kind of questionnaire or a survey in which you could ask questions about how customers might feel toward the project. You’ll have to make it short and sweet as this way you will gain the most engagement. However you should also supply a further comment section which allows customers and recipients to give you their full and honest view.

When you see something out of the ordinary or perhaps a viewpoint that you did not expect, note this down. This could be the start of a similar viewpoint that is shared by many but you just didn’t know it. It could be the very beginnings of a changing flow in your customers’ desires. Of course treat this with a pinch of salt as some people sharing a similar view doesn’t mean the majority hold this view. It’s important to discuss any unexpected views that do seem to be gathering steam because it may warrant you changing a part of the project to accommodate it.

How we use technology

Customers are the ones who usually set trends in the marketing world, at least nowadays. Social media is a place for anyone to be creative which means businesses need to continually make sure they are aware of what’s going on. Sometimes a moment in culture might have a big impact on business. A certain name might be given to a piece of clothing, a software, a product etc. it’s this reason why Adwords are so important because as these new trends transpire, they will become available to bid for. You need to be at the forefront of this so you’re not the last one to the party and not able to take full advantage of the trend while it is at it’s peak. A business which wants to make sure they are serving the changing desires of their customers might need to consider using Automating Adwords optimization tasks. In a free-flowing marketing world, being able to harness the power of Adwords and automatically optimize your project to adhere to them will keep you from falling behind.

For example if a clothing item that is normally called a quilted jacket is worn by somebody famous and they make a social media post calling it a ‘country coat’, this term will obviously begin to be widely searched for by their fans. If you are such a business that makes quilted jackets, you want the Adwords for this so anytime anyone searches for a country coat, your website is further up the top of the results page.

Customers’ desires are changing more rapidly than ever before. Thankfully there are always new ways in which you can keep up and even bring them closer to your business. During a project, make sure you’re noting any signs of change from your own customers and clients from the information you get from your email survey campaign. Make sure that you’re in the loop regarding any kind of social media or cultural trend which might affect your project and adapt to it to secure new customers.