Core Processes That Are Key for an Efficient Business
Article 2 of 6 about the key ingredients to efficient business operations
In our last article, we focused on the first key ingredient to help you achieve greater efficiency in your business; planning. In this article we’re moving on to take a deeper look at the second key ingredient; processes.
When you start a business you tend to just throw yourself in and work on the tasks that pop up in the moment. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to the goal you have set out for yourself, whether that be brand awareness, lead generation, or gathering feedback. There are no set processes in place, but more so a fluidity to work on whatever takes priority. This only works for a small amount of time, once you start gathering traction and you are up to your ears with leads, a lot of what brings quality to your client’s outcome tends to fall by the wayside.
You cannot grow sustainably if you’re stuck in the day-to-day. So what do we do? develop processes that will provide a standard way to perform a series of tasks – so that you get a repeatable outcome every time!!! In this blog we will be sharing six core processes that you should start with to get your business to the point where you are in control of how the business operates.
What is a Process?
Processes are tasks set up in an efficient workflow to ensure that the business is operating to the best of its ability. At Cove Enterprise Hub we group business processes into 3 key categories: Management, Operational and Support.
These are processes that manage the overall business or lead the business in the right direction. The one leading process that we will focus on in today’s blog is Strategic Planning.
Strategic (or long-term)Planning is the core foundation of everything else you do in your business. It’s setting the DIRECTION for your business.
This is the part where you get clear on what you want to achieve as a business and identify the RIGHT things that will take you through the most direct route to achieve it.
It’s therefore really important to ensure that you have a clear process established which outlines when you do your planning, who is involved and how you identify and prioritise the right things to take you towards your big picture goals. The following are the main steps that you should follow to get started with your own strategic planning:
- Establish where your business is now in relation to the market, competitors, skills/capabilities, problems/issues
- Decide where you want to get to and the most relevant strategies to get you there
- Build a plan – at a business level and at an individual/team level so everyone is aligned on what needs to be done
- Communicate the plan to your team and provide regular updates on the progress
The truth is, many small business owners shy away from strategic planning; either because they think it’s only for larger businesses or because they simply haven’t made it a priority as they face more urgent day-to-day concerns.
The reality is – when you have a clear direction for your business, knowing exactly where you’re heading and what you need to do to get you there actually becomes easier to make day-to-day decisions because you have something against which to align them.
These are processes that deal with the main activities of a business and have the sole purpose of servicing the customer. Three delivery processes that we’re going to cover in this blog are the sales process, customer onboarding and order fulfillment.
From start to finish, what is the process you follow to make a sale? Is it written down somewhere? Can you easily articulate it to someone new if they were to be onboarded onto your team this very minute? If the answer to any one of these questions is no, then that is where we should start.
To make consistent sales, you need to create consistency in the process. Here is how you do this:
- Ensure that you have a clear and thought-out customer journey. This will help you see what touchpoints you will need to create from enquiry to sale
- Is this repeatable? You do not want to create a process that you have to change and amend for every sale
- Create email templates and an automated workflow that can be triggered when customers have enquired (contact form/online business only) or when they have placed the order (for all business types).
- Is the sales process easy to follow for both you and the customer? We don’t want them having to jump through too many hoops
- Ensure your sales process is coupled with a great user experience on your website or if you are a brick-and-mortar store- how do you present your store, and what sort of experience does the customer have.
What experience would you like to leave your customer with when they are being onboarded? First impressions are important to ensuring retention and creating loyal customers. Create a customer journey outlining all of the touchpoints the customer receives from you and design a way to give them a warm welcome, showing them how much you appreciate their business.
These are some of the following ways you can do this. Feel free to pick and choose which are better suited to your business model.
- Welcome pack: A pack sent via email or mail including what they can expect, FAQs, and policies. If you are a product-based business then we would advise that you have all of this information on your website.
- Fewer hoops: The journey from purchase to the transaction should have as few touchpoints as possible to make it easier for a customer.
- Online fillable contracts: Like a product transaction, make signing the contract an easy process.
- Welcome and support email sequence: this pertains to both product-based and service-based businesses
- Client Portal: everything is in one place or a pop-up chat box with your customer support team. A place where a customer can get their questions answered quickly.
At the end of the day, you want repeat customers or those who refer your business onwards and upwards. Order fulfillment comes into play with the customer experience thus should be a process that is air-tight. How is the order produced? When in use, is the quality as expected? Has it exceeded expectations? How do you ensure that it is delivered on-time? From that to how the order is packaged, whether it is an online product, a course, a group session, or a physical product- presentation and value are key to obtaining raving reviews.
These are processes that support the business to run effectively. Two key support areas in your business are Finance Management and Team Management. For this blog, we’ve selected a key process from within each of these areas which we recommend you focus on first.
Many businesses overlook the entire cash collection process. When clients are paying on time and there are automated processes in place to collect recurring payments, it’s all great. But what happens when an invoice payment is late, or a credit card is no longer valid? Do you have a process in place to quickly take action to minimise the risk of not ever getting that payment? Putting in place some pre-emptive measures – like a courteous reminder of an upcoming invoice due date, or an email reminding clients to ensure their payment details are still valid – and having steps in place to communicate effectively, as soon as any issues arise, can really make the difference. Don’t get caught out – plan for the inevitable!
You are as good as your team and they are the reflection of your business when it comes down to customer service and backend operations. When transitioning from being a solo entrepreneur to an employer, there are some key considerations to take into account when hiring. How do we ensure we create the right team to support your business? Apart from getting the right people to take care of your recruitment, having a team onboarding process to make sure your newly employed are trained, supported, and ready to take on their role to the best of their ability. When your employee is inducted, what is the next step? Do you have an induction process? Do you have a set-out plan for their specific role that their supervisors walk them through during their training? These are the type of questions that should be defined in a manual which will create a more streamlined onboarding process.
In summary, planning and building out your processes will not only help your business run smoothly but also create a better experience for your customer. Happier customers create more sales which in turn creates more profit and with everything systemised you will be able to leverage that instead of drowning in manual work. If you would like to see how we can help you out in this important area please review our services.