If you’re one to keep track of the current financial landscape, South Africa’s economic projections for 2016 are looking pretty bleak.
As a nation we are facing slower economic growth than ever before and political instability has resulted in the worsening of the Rand. A recent economic report done by Focus Economics painted quite a dim picture for the economy over the next two years, stating that electricity and water constraints will prevent economic growth “by both interrupting production and by discouraging investment”.
Despite the gloomy forecast, in some ways economic downturns can actually be good for business. Companies have begun to look for ways to save money. As a business owner, it is possible to flip the situation in your favour. I believe that the first and easiest way to do that is to improve on internal systems and efficiency.
Here are three ways to reduce your expenses and grow your business at the same time:
1. Reduce your headcount
Unfortunately your staff salaries are always going to be your biggest expense. Reducing your staff headcount can really help you cut costs. Now, I’m in no way suggesting that you should suddenly start firing unsuspecting employees who add value to your business, but it is important to make sure that each of your employees perform a critical function and that they’re helping you turn a profit.
Put it this way: if you’re still running your business off of an Excel spread sheet, then you probably have 1-3 more staff members than you really need. Look for wise ways to reduce your staff compliment and be cautious to hire if there are current employees who have capacity to take on more.
2. Get better at sales
Do you know who you’ve sent quotes to? Do you make a point to follow up on your quotes? If you improve your sales process, you are guaranteed to get better at acquiring and (more importantly) keeping new clients. Getting this phase right is essential.
This is a good model for an efficient sales process:
1. Draft quotes using an automated system that has all of your products in a menu. This will save you time, and also means that you don’t have to recreate a new quote each time.
2. Call the prospective client and, when they’re free to chat to you, send the quote to the client to talk them through it. Don’t just send it and hope for the best.
3. Track your estimation dashboard and schedule a follow up call two days later, and then another call one week later.
Recent stats indicate that if you follow up on your web leads within five minutes of receiving them, you are nine times more likely to convert them into sales.
The lesson: you need to change the way you sell.
3. Get better systems
So, above I mentioned the downside of running your business off of an Excel spread sheet. I have clients who would spend days updating spread sheets, trying to stay on track with projects and sales. Running your business this way is incredibly risky – how many times have you accidently deleted an important document or lost data? It’s also tedious.
You may think that you have more control over your business by doing everything manually, but you will never be able to kick your operations up a gear unless your systems become faster and tighter.
Instead of tearing your hair out trying to remember everything, get a system that integrates with your sales system. This system should be able to convert a quote into orders (for your suppliers), and an order into invoices (for your clients).
If implemented and used correctly, a good integrated Business Operating System (BOS) can streamline your day-to-day operations in ways you never thought possible:
- No work will slip below the radar that you consequently forget to bill for
- Having a dashboard to see everything on one interface will give you peace of mind that projects are running efficiently
- You can say goodbye to fragile Excel spread sheets for good
At the end of the day, better service means more sales. If you can increase your turnaround time, you’ll have happy clients and the ability to take on more business without having to hire more staff.
Wishing you a streamlined, productive and profitable year.