No enterprise is perfect. If your company is like most, it could probably operate in a more streamlined, efficient manner.

Many leaders integrate the Japanese practice of kaizen, or continuous improvement, into their business operations, reasoning that practices and procedures can always improve.

The question is: How does a business owner or executive translate the need for efficiency into action?

 

Much has been written about efficiency-enhancing management tactics. As a leader, it’s in your best interest—and your company’s—to craft a managerial style that consistently brings out the best in your teams and keeps big projects moving along on schedule.

 

Separately, there are plenty of concrete steps you can take to make your business more efficient as you work to improve and streamline your company’s workflows. These steps are often easier and more expedient than management changes, which often require cultural shifts.

 

So, start with these concrete practices—all of which are proven remedies for business inefficiency and waste.

 

  1. Automate Invoicing

 

You’ve probably automated your payroll system already. Why not your invoicing operation?

 

Invoices automated through a cloud-based program are far more efficient to generate, send and close than their manual counterparts.

 

With a turnkey solution that integrates time tracking and invoicing, you’ll spend less time putting your invoices together and hounding slow-to-pay clients. In turn, you’ll have more time and resources to devote to what matters most—pleasing your clients and growing your company.

 

  1. Use a Telephone Answering Service

 

Many companies designate in-house employees to answer company phones, route calls, schedule appointments and handle other necessary tasks. It’s often more efficient to outsource these duties to a trusted partner: a telephone answering service.

 

“If your company handles high volumes of inbound calls or scheduling requests, using a telephone answering service is a very effective strategy to reduce business expenses,” says George Otte, whose Responsive Answering Service serves business customers throughout the United States.

 

Full-spectrum telephone answering services handle a range of duties for companies in a variety of industries: health care, transportation, finance, real estate and property management, utilities, and more. Common service offerings include:

 

  • Round-the-clock live telephone answering
  • Virtual receptionist services
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Dispatching
  • Call screening
  • Message delivery

 

  1. Invest in Direct Mail Marketing

 

Direct mail marketing is a cost-effective way to boost your company’s name recognition and reach without investing in expensive digital ads or TV time. It’s also easy to target by geographic location—a major advantage for localized brick-and-mortar businesses that need to reach prospects with high conversion potential.

 

  1. Digitize Your Calendar and Appointment Book

 

If your employees are still using paper to schedule appointments and plan workflows, consider a digital alternative, such as a virtual receptionist or assistant.

 

Many telephone answering services, including Otte’s Responsive Answering Service, offer reliable scheduling services that can dramatically reduce your team’s workload—and the likelihood of embarrassing scheduling errors. You can also use a cloud-based solution such as Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar, which are included in popular email suites.

 

  1. Create Multiple Backups for Important Data

 

Simply saving critical files to your computer’s hard drive isn’t enough. To protect sensitive data and reduce the likelihood of loss and theft (both of which are highly inefficient and costly outcomes), create multiple data backups: on device hard drives, on external drives, on a secure cloud storage service, even on secure servers at a colocation facility.

 

  1. Plan for the Unexpected

 

Eventually, the unexpected will happen. Make sure you’re ready with an efficient, timely response by creating situation-specific crisis management plans well in advance. Such plans are best developed with the assistance of crisis management professionals, but if you’re curious about the basics, the Washington Post has a great resource for further reading here.