You can’t succeed as a business without being able to see the big picture. On the ground level of management, you might see more people coming in. You might think that you’re doing really well. Counting every satisfied customer and every completed task as a victory is important. But if you focus too much on the here and now, you might be missing out on how your business is really doing. You might not be able to see the wood for the trees. You need to start measuring and start getting the big picture of how your business is really doing.
Cash is the fuel a business runs on. Yet there are still so many who won’t take the time to start accounting properly for it. For startups, this means keeping a harsh dividing line between personal and business finances. Keep track of expenses, overheads and other costs. Use financial planning and forecasting to develop a spending model. For example: 50% of revenue on expenses, 30% on improving the business and 20% toward developing future products and services. Chart your cash flow alongside your projections so you understand how you’re doing in the grand scheme of things. Then you can make adjustments accordingly. You can find cheaper deals in certain services you purchase or shift inventory that is just sitting around costing you space and revenue.
It’s the work hours of your staff that you want to make sure you’re spending just as sensibly as your money. What you don’t want to be spending it on is low productivity. So develop the individual key performance indicators that allow you to see how your employees are doing. Don’t just prioritize on how much they get done. Set high expectations and carry out random checks on their work. Ensure they know your goals, not that they’re mired in the trenches without a battle plan. There are different methods for measuring productivity. You can measure them by end objective. Or set quantitative goals. You can even have co-workers report on one another’s productivity. That gives you a deeper understanding of what’s going on in the levels beneath you in the hierarchy.
Measuring the workflow takes a look at the bigger picture of the workforce. It’s not individual staff. It’s the efforts of the whole you want to look at. This is particularly important when you have set objectives the whole office needs to meet or begin work on a collaborative project. To measure workflow, you need to have an organized approach to it from the get-go. Tools like Processmaker can help you cement that approach. It can help you set the larger objectives alongside the smaller components in an easy-to-manage system. A whole network of employees can contribute, update with their progress and keep an eye on the goal at large. That way, it’s easier to spot when there’s a holdup in the workflow and find out how to help your employees fix it.
You also need to look outside the workings of the business itself. You can have the most well-oiled machine inside but if your customers aren’t happy, then you’re not a successful business. So you need to start measuring your customers’ satisfaction by getting down to brass tacks. How many paying customers do you have? Customer retention is how many customers you manage to keep from the start of one period to another. You also want to look at how many you gain in that period. Look at how much money you’re getting from them and on what services. Knowing whether people are coming or going will help you recognize when you need to make a change.
Customer satisfaction isn’t the only thing that matters about how the outside world sees you. It’s not always the same as the kind presence, the kind of reputation you have. So that’s something you need to measure separately. Tools like Chatmeter can help you do more than provide SEO analysis. They can help you get a look at how visible your business is right down to different geographical areas. It can also help you spot how much work you have to do to get more visible. Make sure that your business isn’t going unnoticed. Monitor your marketing efforts and just how they affect your reputation to see how your business is really doing.
If you want to talk about retention, customers aren’t the only ones you need to be keeping. Employee retention matters as well. The cost of hiring and training new staff to replace old ones is significantly higher than the cost of keeping the team you have. Take the time to ask your workers whether or not they’re fully satisfied at their positions. They may get defensive, so ask what you could do to improve that satisfaction. It may be as simple as making more efforts to help them deal better with their workloads. It may be providing development opportunities or even just rewarding good work. Monitoring employees is also about monitoring their reliability. HR software can help you track absences, holidays, infractions and the like. Get a better idea of who your key members are by taking facts into account, not just your opinion of them.
When it comes to customers, then you also want to know the details of their experience, not just the end numbers of who stays and who doesn’t. So you have to set up a system where their complaints aren’t just heard but made visible. Host customer satisfaction surveys and make the answers to the questions quantifiable. Track individual customers to see if their satisfaction dips or raises and ask why. Track problems over a long period so you can accurately see whether any trends are developing. Not having an idea of the weaknesses of your service or products is the easiest way to fail.
The categories above are going to help you get a much better understanding of how your business is really doing. The end result might shock you, but it will motivate you to make fixes that give you long-term success, not just short-term reward.