Help me, help you: Time management strategies for small businesses
As a small business owner, you have a lot on your plate. You’re managing your business’ value in the marketplace on a daily basis while at the same time striving to maintain superior customer service and employee satisfaction. There’s a lot on your mind and the minds of your employees, too. Some days, it feels like nine a.m. becomes five p.m. in a heartbeat. At times like this, you spend most of your time just trying to keep the ship afloat.
Of course, you also want your employees to feel accomplished and productive at the end of the day. Professional success is largely a mental game, after all. If you believe you are getting things done and doing good work -- then you will probably get things done and do good work! The following are steps you can take to ensure that your team is put in the best possible position to effectively manage their time.
Provide them with tools to manage their time
A great way to help your employees organize their time and increase efficiency is by providing them with a tool to do so. The digital age has created various software solutions capable of managing everything from employee calendars to contacts and customers. With the right system, employees can plug important data into their daily and monthly schedules -- like meetings and engagement reminders. Once an employee finishes a sale or solves an issue, they can record the data from the interaction so that it is easily accessible the next time they need it. Managing time with the right software solution can help your small business grow by allowing your employees more time to engage with new and existing customers.
Make sure there is clear communication
Effective communication plays a critical role in managing the time of employees at any small business. If employees are able to seamlessly share and communicate vital organizational and customer information, they will have a clearer understanding of the big picture in any given situation. Whether dealing with a customer complaint, a partnership agreement or an internal process issue, getting the right information into the right hands is essential to a timely resolution. A siloed approach doesn’t bode well for effective time management in a small business environment. There are too many moving pieces and it’s too easy for things to fall through the cracks. Maintain an updated database of shared customer information, hold weekly team meetings, and set the tone by communicating directly with each member of your team on a regular basis. Do whatever it takes to ensure there is an excellent stream of communication within your organization because a little extra effort now can save a lot of time in the long run.
Manage employee time with customers
Another way to help your employees manage their time is by keeping track of their customer service experiences. Your employees are the faces and voices of your business, and you work hard to provide a pleasant experience for your customers. You want each experience to be beneficial and productive for your team and your patrons. Have a process in place so that your staff knows how to route different problems in order to expedite service. The most efficient way to boost your customer experience is to decrease wait time. When one employee can’t solve an issue, they should have the necessary tools and information to transfer their client to the person most capable of meeting their needs promptly. One employee shouldn’t spend an hour troubleshooting a customer problem when another can handle the case in just a few minutes.
Cross-train and delegate responsibilities
Small businesses are better positioned to grow lean if they emphasize the importance of cross-training employees and delegating responsibilities effectively. Employees who are trained to serve multiple functions for the company can be moved around based on current needs as the business grows. If the popularity of your product is increasing quickly, you can reallocate cross-trained employees to help with sales or customer service. If you’ve just release a new product, you can put more people on customer service and training. Cross-training and properly delegating your workforce to help out where they are most needed is a great way to manage the time of the most important asset a small business has -- it’s employees.
Successfully managing your time and the time of your employees will boost efficiency and create new growth potential for your business. Your employees will be able to increase productivity and customer satisfaction by dealing with issues quickly. Be the leader that encourages your team’s success through effective time management solutions.
John Oechsle joined Swiftpage in July 2012 and currently serves as president and chief executive officer. John came to Swiftpage with a 30 year track record of building highly profitable and sustainable revenue growth for emerging companies and established global leaders. John is an advocate for technology and education in Colorado and has been an active contributor to the Colorado Technology Association (CTA). He has been recognized several times for his involvement in the tech industry. In 2006 and in 2009, John was awarded the Technology Executive of the Year, and the Titan of Technology awards by the CTA. John was also awarded the Bob Newman Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community by the CTA in 2011.