The first quarter of the 2017 is about to end. This is a good time to look at how much progress you’ve made on your business performance goals you set for the new year. What are you seeing? Where do you need to put in better processes?
To improve business performance, efficiency is key. And there are a few simple ways you can start fast-tracking your progress for the next quarter:
- Avoid duplicate data entry
- Streamline and automate communication
- Ensure a centralized location for data aggregation
- Listen to your customers
- Be a good partner
Let’s take a closer look at how each of these can contribute to better performance.
No More Duplicate Data Entry
In our world, many integrators use a CRM to gain new customers. We enter customer information—name, phone number, address, and email—into our CRM. Sometimes we also scope out an opportunity and add that into our CRM to remind ourselves. When that reminder comes up, we quickly review the opportunity and then start creating the bid. We enter the same customer information—name, phone number, address, and email—into our quoting platform. And when the customer accepts the bid, we enter the customer information—name, phone number, address, and email—into our billing platform and then again into our project management platform.
We spend so much time entering the customer’s information into our systems that we could have completed two more bids in that amount of time—two! Duplicate data entry is a time suck that needs to be avoided is possible. Use a comprehensive management platform that can, among other things, help you avoid the duplicate data entry and move you onto the next task quicker.
Streamline and Automate Communication
As business scales and volume increases, internal communication is critical to the success or failure of that organization. If we have three jobs going on at the same time, we can probably handle that volume manually and run things relatively seamlessly. It is not that difficult to verify that the material is dropped off on time and technicians showed up on time, and to talk to them about extra parts added to the job. Essentially, when something needs to be done, it’s easy to tell. But when you have 50 jobs going at the same time and are running a staff of more than 20 employees, it is nearly impossible to manually handle every detail.
Use a system that automatically sends notifications to the responsible party to follow up. This could be through emails, text messages, or even push notifications to their smartphone. It doesn’t really matter how notifications go out, but they need to go out on time, and automatically, to keep things running smoothly.
Centralized Data Aggregation
Knowledge is power and without it, your business is weak. But the flip side of this is overcomplicating the process. This arises a lot in today’s mobile-friendly environment, when a business uses multiple apps to see monitor a job’s lifecycle. When you use more than two applications, you introduce the chance that you’re looking in the wrong place for information. Then you’ll spend time sorting out the details.
Instead, create one centralized location where all your data is housed to streamline processes and create efficiencies. If you can, take it step further and make this centralized location accessible by everyone from anywhere in the world, and on any device.
Listen to Your Customers
This might be common sense, but it bears repeating: customers are your most valuable commodity and should be treated as such. If you do not provide them the goods and services they require, someone else will. In addition, as the technology world changes at a breakneck pace, it is more important than ever to keep up on industry trends and events. These new technologies are what your customers are interested in. And as they struggle through DIY home automation attempts to try to get that experience, they’re going to knock on your door wanting you to reliably solve their challenges. As this happens, unique product lines and your services become more mainstream. Listening to these struggles creates new opportunities for you. Without a problem, there is no cure.
Be a Good Partner
There is a lot to be said for the golden rule, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Would you rather work with someone less expensive initially that tries to upcharge you for every possible task or would you rather work with someone that builds service into their initial price structure? This is an interesting dichotomy—price versus service—and is something that each business should address from the start.
Home automation is a service-centric industry. Many of our customers can get the same products we offer online or from a big-box store. What makes them come back to you, and what are you doing to reward that decision? How you answer that question has direct correlation to your long-term success, and is something that should not be a secret or happen by accident.