Better Business Practices For Success - It's never just about the plan.
Let me start by providing you with a bit of history. At times a little background helps with the validity of what someone writes or speaks about. The topic tonight is better business practices for success - it's never just about the plan. I owned what ended up being a very successful business for 17 years before getting tired of it and wanted to move on to other challenges. However, it did not start that why. It took years of making mistakes, learning, and finding the right mix for success. Yes, when a business goes to the bank for a business loan, they want to see your business plan. However, it takes far more than a business plan to have a successful business. A little over twenty years ago, I wrote my first best-selling book, Management and Employee Relations. Back then, there was no such thing as a print-on-demand service. Therefore, a book eventually went out of print. However, as online learning became popular, this book successfully remodeled this book into a tutorial and other business tutorials on a platform called Udemy.com. This day, this and my other business tutorials are viewed each month, possibly because they are quite inexpensive.
During the remainder of my career, I held lower-level management positions and middle and upper-level management positions. In each position I held, I made mistakes. We all do. That is how we learn. However, do we learn the right lessons? That s what my tutorials on Udemy are based upon. You will learn from my mistakes and correct them so you do not make the same mistakes. As we move on, I want you to remember one of my most used quotes in the business world. One that only the successful companies follow and understand its importance.
WITHOUT US, THERE IS NO YOU, AND WITHOUT YOU, THERE IS NO US.
Those few words are what every successful business is based upon. It is not their business plan. It is their culture. Culture makes your business successful because it takes all the components of what makes a successful business into account. A successful business not only needs a strong business plan, employees, resources, good marketing tools, a good and fairly priced product, and a sales force to sell that product, it needs CULTURE. CUlture is the business concept.
Anyone in business knows you struggle with the costs of labor, materials, shipping, as well as many other factors, including competition. However, what makes you stand out in the crowd? Your culture. Your people and customer communications skills. SOmething many companies forget about. People like to talk to people. Not listen to music on hold for 30 minutes before they get someone who barely speaks the language. However, high labor costs have driven many companies to go to overseas call centers. If you look at most reviews of a company, they all say the same thing. "Their customer service sucks." Yes, you may get a consumer to buy our product once, but once they have to speak to you, they will never buy another product from you again. This representation of your business hinders and can destroy your business culture. The way you want your business to be perceived.
Most consumers will get aggravated if they have an issue with your product. Still, if they can reach a human being in a reasonable amount of time that they can understand, understand, and resolve their problem, you will have a customer for life. However, culture does not stop there. That is only the tip of the iceberg. Remember my quote? Well, you cannot put out a good product or even have a business without those that do the work in the trenches. That is where many companies really miss the boat. I mean, that boat sailed and let were left behind. Those on that boat learned and made tons of money. I am talking about your staff. The people that do the work. Pick the orders, pack the orders, ship the orders, or even manufacture the product. They MUST be your primary investment.
TAKING STOCK IN YOUR PEOPLE:
I worked for one company for many years. After some time, I was known as the fixer of problems. I was sent anywhere in the company multiple divisions where a problem needed to be fixed. Guess what? I fixed them every time. Because I had one simple rule. If I found the problem, they had to be willing to let me implement whatever, within reason, I felt necessary to fix it. It was a good agreement because what they had wasn't working, and the costs were tremendous. If you have that agreement, the only problem is you best be able to produce the desired results. I always felt I could and did.
In almost every case, this is what I found:
Poor management skills and lack of managerial training,
Disgruntled employees that did really care about their job,
Non-efficient ways of doing things,
Lack of proper communications between managers and departments,
High turnover of people.
NOBODY WANTS TO SPEND A GREAT DEAL OF MONEY ON TRAINING. Any business person will tell you training is a negative budget line item. There is no making money with training. It only costs money. However, is that actually a fact? You cant a new manager or supervisor, stick them with a person for two days and throw them to the wolves thinking they will know what to do. They don't. Therefore, management staff in most cases are not properly trained. Most importantly, they are not trained to gear up for your company's culture and what you are trying to accomplish.
This leads to disgruntled employees. People become dissatisfied with their jobs for many reasons. Low pay, not feeling appreciated for what they do, how management treats them, or are overworked. Because in today's workforce, the policies are doing more for less. People get tired, production falls off, people get injured, and turnover is high. For any one of those reasons, people are always working while looking for another job. Eventually, they find one, and they leave. Now, you have to hire someone new, and you are paying two people to do the same job while they are training. The result is higher labor costs because although the new employee starts at a lesser pay grade and hourly rate, the labor costs still increase, and the profits did not. We'll talk more about this in the next section.
Lack of efficiency. Every time I spoke to a supervisor, I always heard, "We have been doing it this way for years." That is NOT innovative thinking because that person never looks for a better way that could cut costs. The other phrase I used to hear was, "Well, where I worked better." Frankly, I don't give a damn where you worked before. This is where you work now. Therefore, you have to think differently. Think about it for a moment. Warehousing nails and warehousing feathers are basic warehousing principles. The only difference is the product. Therefore, the methods you use may be different.
Communications are key. There is no room for interdepartmental fights. It leads to a lack of efficiency, and a lack of efficiency leads to lost profits. Many supervisors and department heads do not talk to one another—no meetings, no plans, discussing problems, and solving them. Most importantly, there is little to no communication with the workers. The people who are actually doing the work. This leads to confusion, frustration, and often when those who actually do the work have a good suggestion to make it better. No one wants to listen. Hence, a disgruntled employee. If they see that you don't care, why should they? Just give me my paycheck every week and leave me the hell alone.
Once employees reach this point, you have completely failed to create a strong work environment that promotes longevity and employees who enjoy coming to work. Frankly, they do not care how good a job they do.
A QUICK SIDE NOTE:
Many years back, a company I worked for sent me to Japan to learn why their employees were so dedicated. What I found amazed me. I am not saying we need to or should this in the U.S.A>, and not every Japanese company provided this, but the larger ones did. Basically, they not only focused on the business, but they also focused on the employees. Some had community housing where the employee could buy the house at a greatly reduced price, and the money was deducted from the paycheck each week. There were daycare centers, movie theaters, food stores, pharmacies, and more in these communities. If you didn't want to, there was no reason to have to leave the community. In addition, these communities had full security features. There were no bad neighborhoods, gang violence, and other things. Admittedly, this was many years ago, and some of this may have changed. The deal was, each day, a certain degree of production had to be met. Each employee had to stay until the daily production numbers were met. Meaning, if a piece of machinery broke down and took two hours to repair, they would stay two hours later to meet the production for that day. During my two weeks there, twice I witnessed delays when workers need to stay late. THEY HAPPILY DID IT WITHOUT COMPLAINING. Why was that? In our country, if you are told you have to work overtime and you don't want to, you bitch and moan about it, and guess what. You tried to do as little as possible. In Japan, they were so grateful for what the companies provided. They did everything possible to make the company successful because they also benefitted from their success.
WHAT DO PEOPLE NEED:
One of the next things I did was remember when I was just a worker, what did I need. What did I want? Now, if you own a business and ignore this part, you are doomed to reduced profits and possibly not surviving. No matter how strong your salesforce is. I don't care how strong your business plan is. If you do not get the service or product to your customers, they will go to someone who will, and who makes accomplished that successful? Yes, your frontline workers. They are your strongest allies and your best resource. DON'T ABUSE THEM. We need to understand and know what our frontline workers are all about. Everyone knows that everyone doesn't get everything they want, and some things you can't give them. However, some things don't cost a penny. Let's look at a few things, and remember, my tutorials on Udemy go into much great depth on all these points.
Treat me with respect,
Pay me fairly,
Listen to me when I have something to say,
Tell me what's going on.
These are just a few, so let me address them quickly to avoid this post too long. However, they are the most I have heard. I said earlier. Some things do not cost a penny. A simple handshake and thank you for doing a great job today makes people feel noticed and good about themselves. A good morning greeting and a smile always help to start someone's days off right. One day I heard a supervisor tell someone who just pushed in, "Hey, the line is busy. If you punched in, get your ass to work." Oh yes, do you think you will get a day's work out of that person? Think again because now that person will tell others how they were treated, and now you have an epidemic on your hands.
If you pay people fairly, which most companies look at as high payroll costs, you will find that people will stay longer, be happier, and do a better job. They will take stock in the company because they want to stay. You will get better production, meet your sales goals, have happy customers, and save a bundle on training which we already know that training is lost money.
These are the individuals that do the work, day in and day out. They know better than you what changes could be made for things to run smoother. When they have a suggestion, listen, and never make promises you can't keep. NEVER say, great idea. I think we'll try that when you have no intentions of doing that. Honesty is always better. Take the time to see what they are telling you and be honest. If it's a great idea, thank them and tell them. However, be truthful. Tell them you will have to cost it out to see if the money will be approved to make those changes. If you think it is not a good idea, don't say no. Explain why.
Your first-line workers can work better if they understand what is going on and why. Of course, you may not share the intimate details of things, but a basic explanation goes a long way. Another time I heard a manager tell a worker, "I don't have to tell you why, I'm paying you, just do what you're told or work somewhere else." Well, two months later, that ten-year employee did just that. Found another job and left.
Making your business a success is a combination of many things. Do not just hire people, supervisors, or managers because you need an ass in that seat. Hires those who are qualified, willing to learn, and train them properly. Every position in every company should have a training plan in place. This ensures that people are properly trained. Never assume that your management team can handle every problem. Let them know your door is always open and you are willing to assist. Hold regular meetings to discuss any problems and solutions. Listen to ideas.
Sometimes the best idea is a result of many different ideas combined into one.
Most people are afraid to ask for help because they do not want others to feel they can't handle something. Here is a wake-up call for you. No one knows it all, and some people will always know more than you do. Never be afraid to ask for an opinion or an idea that will make things better. In today's business world, we call this THE TEAM APPROACH. However, it is only a team approach if every person feels like they are part of the team and treated that way. Any short of that alienate people or certain groups of people. For a business to be successful, it must run like a high-quality watch. One that will keep perfect time run efficiently, as each piece runs relying on the other to do its job. When the watch and all its parts are in sync, the watch will keep perfect time. Thank you for reading this post. I hope you found some good information here and will subscribe to my blog. You can use the CONTACT US tab to email any questions you may have to me.
Stay safe and be well. Thank you.
Check out my new private investigator series coming soon.
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