OPTIMIZE Your Operations
Photo Credit-Stark Photography
Up to now, this has been a disappointing year for many design firms. However, designers in some parts of the country are beginning to see business pick up again, which bodes well for the rest of us. When business does return, you’ll want to get the maximum benefit from each project. Use the time now to overhaul your operations to make them more efficient and profitable.
Here are some essential steps to OPTIMIZE your day-to-day operations:
Only do the things that generate revenue and bring in new projects. Don’t try to be all things to all clients. Focus on your strengths and promote your unique brand promise. This is one of those times when less is more.
Prioritize what’s most important. Try not to get distracted by the many little challenges you’ll likely face doing business in the new normal. Make it a point with yourself and your team to tackle what must get done first every day. Set aside time for later in the day to deal with less pressing matters.
Train your staff to handle more administrative tasks. Free yourself up to focus on the parts of the business where you make your most valuable contribution. Delegate and manage. More will get done and in less time. Plus, your team will function more efficiently.
Invest in the best technology you can afford. Scheduling, operations management, team management, and financial software and apps can greatly increase your firm’s efficiency and accuracy. Not, however, if they are difficult to use or unreliable. Your tech doesn’t have to be state-of-the-art as long as it functions well for your purposes but should be up-to-date to get the most advantage from its features.
Measure your performance regularly. You can’t tell how well your business is doing if you don’t track and measure your performance. Set reasonable goals for efficiency and follow-up on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on the type of goal (e.g., hours allotted to a project vs. billings). Make adjustments or improvements as needed.
Integrate standardized methods, policies, procedures, and processes into every aspect of your business. Don’t reinvent the wheel is a common cliché, yet it’s surprising how easy it is to fall into that trap, wasting time and effort. Document all policies, procedures and processes; review them with your team; and make it part of everyone’s duties to adhere to them.
Zero out non-essential expenses. Direct more of your revenues to profits. The less overhead and fewer expenses you have, the harder your revenues are working for you.
Examine each area of your business (marketing, sales, design, implementation, operations, finances) for ways to increase efficiency. Invite feedback from your team, clients, suppliers and others. Even little improvements add up over time.
When you optimize your operations you can squeeze every bit of juice from everything you do, getting more of a return from your efforts. The result is less time spent being busy and more time spent doing business.