What Can We Predict of the Future?
How much time have you got?
Customers won’t wait for you to get your systems in order. They will go elsewhere. And mistakes are both time consuming and costly. Business runs at such a fast rate these days we don’t have time to fix problems before the consequences are with us. There’s no time to make mistakes, let alone fix them. The only answer is to reduce the risk of mistakes to a minimum.
Good systems give a time advantage
Businesses with superior systems outpace businesses with poor systems. Superior systems include people as well as the myriad of other equipment, processes and procedures involved. Ask any customer why they are loyal to a particular business and they will tell you it has to do with great service. People and superior systems deliver great service - consistently.
The future is made of the same stuff as the present.
- Simone Well, (1909-43)
That is true in many areas of business
It's possible to predict certain revenue outcomes based on past records. In fact, the more these records are kept and charted, the more a business can predict future earnings. This is not only important for annual financial planning; it can be crucial for discussions on goodwill. After all, goodwill for the recipient is mostly to do with getting a share of reasonably certain future profits.
Present records show items like monthly - annual contracts and standard monthly cash flow patterns etc. Many businesses can show seasonal and occasion revenue such as Christmas, Easter etc. and lay-by and HP patterns. Monitoring (nurturing) these annual - predictable - income streams are essential to sound strategic and financial planning.
But what is unpredictable for the future and how can we future proof our businesses for the unpredictable?
The list can nearly be inexhaustible, but there are a few key areas that need to be considered:
Security - burglary - fire
Computer records - on and off-site
Utilities services disruption - water, electricity, gas
Key staff absence - temporary - permanent
Support staff absence - temporary - permanent
Consequences of poor quality - claims
Financial mismanagement - cash flow problems
Environmental disaster - outside your control.
For the purposes of this article, let's focus on the two staff issues:
Key and Support staff temporary and permanent absence
How do owners and managers future proof a business against negative consequences in the event of either key or support staff being away or leaving?
We hear horror stories every week about the cost to businesses of key staff being away or leaving unexpectedly. Can you predict this? In most situations - no! Otherwise unexpectedly would not apply.
But who are key staff? ALL STAFF ARE KEY otherwise why are you paying them to be there?
A baker does not turn up on the night shift. Other staff wait for an hour. They call him by phone and find the he has shifted! (Imagine the response they got at 2.00 am!) He doesn't turn up at all and no one knows his routines. If his routines had been recorded - their systems prepared for the unexpected - other staff could have made a quick recovery. As it was, many customers were unhappy because they didn't get their supplies. The staff tried to do their best, but it wasn't good enough and customers went elsewhere. There was no point phoning the owner because they knew he didn't know the routines either. Now they're doing something about it!
Nobody knows how it was done last time!...Why?
Because Mary did it.
But she's on holiday in Fiji for two weeks!
An owner called us recently to talk about WORKLINX. He was recovering from three months of serious problems in his business after the unexpected departure of an employee with log-term health problems. Very little of what this person did and/or how it was done was recorded. The first month after the person left was sheer hell. It took to the end of the next month to get any control at all. The next month they tried to record what they were doing to get things back to normal, all the time knowing what and how they were doing things was not necessarily either the right or best way to do many of the processes. Now they realize they need to call in some experts to review their processes AND record it all in WORKLINX.
Future Proof Your Business
The answer is to DOCUMENT (record) the present.
Have everyone in your business record what and how they do everything they do. (WORKLINX supplies templates for this. The template matches the WORKLINX page format for easy loading. These templates also make it easy for staff to understand what you want them to do.)
When this is done thoroughly, your business will have a comprehensive resource to draw upon when the unexpected happens.
And, when this is done in the WORKLINX system, you can build Job Descriptions as you go so it's easy to employ permanent and part time staff to do the work. It's possible to SAVE money as you recover. You will discover not all jobs are full time!
The alternative is chaos, stress, panic and very likely a loss of business. Clients are very unforgiving when a business demonstrates it has not prepared for the unexpected.
Remember, many of your clients are experienced business people. They face the same dilemmas themselves. There is growing awareness that businesses can take precautions against impending disaster - we all did pretty well preparing for the consequences of entering the year 2000.
Put "future-proofing" of your business on the agenda for your next meeting and draw up a plan to achieve a high preparedness within a predetermined time. The investment will be worth it treat the process as part of your business insurance.