Reinventing processes is key during these uncertain times. How have your processes changed because of the pandemic? Your employees might be working from home and have changed from in-person meetings to virtual meetings on platforms such as Zoom. You might still allow clients and employees to enter your business, but with a completely new set of rules and regulations. Typically, processes are set and do not change so drastically or as often as they have this past year. Establishing processes for your staff to follow is critical to your success as a business owner. Developing new or adjusting your current processes will keep your business running smoothly and efficiently, even during the pandemic.
What are business processes?
Business processes include both internal and external strategies for maintaining and executing a successful venture. Some processes every business needs include strategies for human resources, billing, sales, and marketing. You should have processes in place for hiring and firing, how and when to bill clients, how to ship orders, how to pay your employees, how to attract new clients, and more. Essentially, every department of your business needs a process to describe how and when an action should occur. For example, when you gain new business, when do you bill your new clients? If they don’t pay their bill by the agreed upon due date, do you have a process for collecting the overdue bill? If an employee isn’t acting upon your processes or not aligning with your core values, do you have a process for how their actions should be approached and corrected? Processes need to be set in place and followed by all your employees to ensure that daily business practices can function with as few mistakes as possible.
Why are they important?
Maintaining business processes is a crucial aspect of running a successful business. Processes keep communication streamlined and all your staff on the same page. If your staff can effectively communicate and follow the processes you have set up, your daily workflow will function much more efficiently. There will be less lag time in making sure that “xyz” has happened if you know your process. You will also avoid a lot of confusion if your employees are familiar and comfortable following your processes. Having a set structure for day-to-day work helps nurture knowledgeable and happy employees. Processes help clarify communication and create the structure you need to continue growing.
Communication with clients should follow the same structure as your internal processes. Keeping your clients happy is vital to success! If you can keep your clients informed and satisfied, you should be getting great reviews, new referrals, and returning business.
Tips on building successful practices:
- Maintain a balance between technology and human connection. One-on-one contact is important for maintaining solid business relationships. While technology can provide many helpful tools, always make sure to be reachable on a human level, even if it is “technology-enhanced,” such as a Zoom or phone call. Your clients value being able to hear your voice and see your face! It can be easy to misinterpret the context or tone of another person over texts or emails.
- Keep your core values and mission in mind when creating business processes. Here at Michigan Creative, we live to create. While not all of our staff are performing creative work, our mission is to always come up with creative solutions to our problems. This core value reflects throughout the company in all our processes. We don’t whine or complain. Instead, we ask our team for help in finding solutions to the problem.
- Rinse and repeat: Keep a record of your processes and make a note when something isn’t working out anymore. If you need to make changes to your processes, be sure to dive into why and how that process wasn’t working and record the changes you made.
- Keep a written record of your current processes and make it available to all your employees. Sometimes this follows along the lines of an employee handbook or a book of standard operating procedures. Having a recorded document allows your employees to reference business processes whenever they may need and protects from confusion.
With your processes polished and in place, your business should be able to run itself! Success in establishing processes definitely sounds easier than it is to execute, however, if you take the time to structure your business, you will free your company from mistakes and confusion. Streamlining your processes will keep the cash flowing and your employees happy, allowing you more time to work ON your business instead of IN your business. If you are struggling to attract new clients during the pandemic, revisit your processes. You might be surprised at how big of a difference even a small change can make.