This is the 4th of a 5 Part series on getting and keeping your business organized
See also: Part I, Part II, Part III
Do you know of any business today that doesn’t use technology in one form or another? I hope you can say no. Unfortunately, I do.
As much as we like to complain about technology, it IS here and it IS here to stay and continually change. If you can accept this, you’ll have a much better attitude about it and be able to use it to your advantage.
The one company I know that avoids using it in a retail setting doesn’t understand what it does to their customers. Let me paint the picture for you. This is a service business where customers come to a clinic by appointment. There are multiple rooms for the clients to be seen in, so patients are scheduled minutes apart to see the practitioner. Appointments are scheduled in pencil in an appointment book. Insurances are not handled by this clinic but are the responsibility of the clients. All invoices are generated by hand with record keeping done in files (as in cabinets). They are able to dispense prescriptions, again all done manually. Yes, this clinic is less expensive and their service is outstanding, but your time better be worth little.
Can’t remember your appointment date and time? Try calling to verify. The administrator will have to go through micro-handwritten pages of appointments trying to find yours. Don’t expect a text message reminder. Phone call reminders are in place (when they’re not too busy).
Need to file for insurance coverage? The simplified invoice turns out to be too oversimplified; expect to have denials and have to answer questions and do resubmittals to get reimbursed.
Should you need a referral to a specialist, don’t expect email communication. No such thing here. X-Rays are mailed, yes, as in snail mail.
I could go on and on, but rather, let’s talk about other technology that works.
I’m not that bad! Technophobia or e- frugal?
For wholesale product businesses, the savings come in ordering right, turning the products on the shelves as quickly as possible to minimize storage costs or through just-in-time ordering.
Ordering right translates into aggressive negotiations with vendors, buying to get quantity discounts and extending payments to after product sale. Managing the inventory is made most efficient with bar-coding or RFID (radio-frequency identification). Manual tracking requires extensive man-hours and reduces accuracy. A live inventory gives you real-time access to the how much, where and what inventory turns you need for re-ordering.
Monitor your deliveries through tracking software, GPS if possible and keep track of your delivery costs, especially if you offer free delivery. Stay current on truck costs and which ones are the most cost-effective. Should you lease or buy? Tracking will tell you. Tracking vehicle expenses becomes very easy this way.
For retail products, technology tracks your inventory as well, secures the pricing and minimizes theft or discounting through the sale. It again allows for minimum quantity re-ordering, pricing controls and speed of service at check-out.
For service businesses, say a commercial cleaning company, the need for tracking employee time, performance and other metrics is key to competing on cost. While competing on quality is more important, the performance and efficiency of staff in the execution of their duties is where profits are calculated. Track all metrics to see where savings may be realized.
I can’t say this enough, technology automates and makes things efficient. Invest in it rather than people whenever possible. It’ll save you money in the long run. If you don’t know where to turn to start automating, consult with an experienced technology business consultant to assess your needs and make a plan.
What is your biggest technology fear?
Next time we’ll be looking at structuring your Financials.