Tip #4 An efficient office saves money
Tips to Grow your Business #4: An Efficient Office saves Money
As a customer, one of my pet hates is waiting for the store clerk to get his act together. Here I am, ready with my hard earned money to buy, and yet the clerk is making it hard for me to buy. He is rummaging around his drawer looking for his receipt book, looking for the right forms, texting his friend, and etc. He is wasting my time. Maybe, I should take my business somewhere else.
If the business owner knew how much business he was losing, he would probably go ballistic. He had just spent a small fortune to market his store and his products. He finally got me to buy. And then at the moment of truth, I walk away without buying. Why? I didn’t buy because the store clerk didn’t let me. The system didn’t let me.
Has this happened to you? I have experienced this hassle in large and small business establishments in Metro Manila as well as in the provinces. Is there a way of solving this problem?
The solution could very well lie with the way the office or store is managed. By making just a few changes, productivity and efficiency can be increased. Here are some tips on how to keep your office better organized and efficient.
The need of good Office Management
I first came across the term “office manager” while working on a project in the United States. At first, I thought the office manager was the fancy title given to the wife of the business owner who really functioned as the office secretary. Well, she might have performed many of the jobs of the office secretary, but she certainly did more than that. She made sure all the consultants got their paper work straight; made sure the customers were getting their products and she generally kept the business humming.
Design an efficient filing System
The office or business manager sets the tone for efficiency. She needs to design an efficient filing system for paper documents as well as electronic documents. She needs to design the flow of the various papers that need to be processed. Where do these go? How can she make sure that these can be found again when needed?
>She needs to design for the most efficient flow of documents so that these can be found again even if she is not around. The system should allow for someone new to the office to find his way through the paper work.
Create a dedicated Workspace
There needs to be a place for everything and everything should be stored in their designated space. A chaotic work environment leads to a highly stressed workplace. Your people will not be able to experience a sense of completion at the end of the day. Everything feels like it is up in the air and pending.
Group office machines in a logical manner so that they are accessible to everyone. The staff should not need to run to one corner of the office for copy paper and run to the other end for toner or ink. Clutter is very distracting. A clear workplace makes for clear thinking.
Technology can be intimidating. My wife says “computers and I don’t get along.” Actually she is quite adept at using authoring software and spreadsheets. What she is referring is the way my sons and I configure web servers, mail servers, database software, desktop search engines and the like to organize and distribute information.
>There is a lot of technology available out there. They can help you develop filing systems, organize your contact information, clients lists, correspondence and lots more. If you do not have a computer savvy person in the office, then do outsource one. Outsourcing this service to an expert will save you a lot of time and grief. You will need one guy to help you keep your hardware running, updated and virus free. You will also need a software guy to put together the suite of software tools that your business needs.
Remember that your core strength is your knowledge of the business. You do not need to be an expert in technology. You can hire this expertise or outsource it.
Involve your Team
A tidy and efficient office can happen only when everyone gets involved. One of my first eye-openers, while working for a large trading company in Japan, was how senior management got involved in something as mundane as cleaning the office. Of course, the office had contracted janitors. There were also tea ladies that kept the office tidy. The office was usually spotless.
We should learn from the Japanese experience. So, do get everyone involved regularly in efforts to improve productivity and workflow. Ask the staff members to point out areas that are bottlenecks and how these can be removed. Even a five minute improvement per transaction per day over a year can easily translate to a sizable saving, happier customers and profits for the business.
More tips to come
These are just some of my thoughts on how you can improve your office productivity. I will be writing more in the next few weeks.
Rafael M. Pefianco
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