We’re back with the second half of our list of 10 things your company needs to do better. You can read the first half by clicking the link above. Let’s not waste any time and jump right into the rest of the list!
No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to please everyone all the time. Some customers might get upset and vent their frustration in a public forum, like your blog, Facebook page or even on another website. You can turn lemons into lemonade, though with a little patience and effort.
To respond to critics constructively: Don’t give in to the knee-jerk reaction to delete negative comments. If you welcome customer feedback (which you should!), don’t expect it to always be rosy compliments. Sometimes criticism can be extremely helpful because it helps you fix problems and build a better product. Thank people for their input, ask for more information to help them solve the problem, invite them to call or email you to work out a solution, and try to always be positive and understanding. Let them know that you’re working on a problem or that you’ve fixed it. It’s great when you can end a conversation that started on a negative note with a satisfying resolution.
7. Cutting Costs
With all the craziness surrounding the global economy, it’s hard to tell when prices will stabilize. The best thing you can do in response is to find ways to cut costs and run your business as lean as possible.
To start reining in costs: Tighten your inventory management. By this, I mean that you stock up on the right products at the right times. By doing this, you’ll cut down on slow-moving inventory and keep more working capital in your hands. There are also several other things you can do that play into this strategy of cutting costs. I’ll talk about them next.
8. Managing Supply Chains
Many vendors are offering special deals to companies they supply to get more money up front. For example, if you purchase a large number of products in a single order, you might receive a volume discount or save on shipping. It’s tempting to take advantage of these deals, but it’s usually smarter to only get what you need and not stockpile products.
To improve your supply chain management: Negotiate with your vendors to get better payment and shipping terms. In the current economy, they’ll probably be willing to compromise in order to keep you as their customer. If they’re unwilling to strike a deal, look at other options. It’s a good idea to have more than one option for your supply chains in case of bad weather or other unforeseen conditions.
9. Controlling Inventory
This goes along with the earlier points of cutting costs and managing supply chains. If you’re using an inadequate inventory control system, you could be losing a lot of money through lost sales, spoiled products and/or inefficiency.
To manage your inventory better: You should find advanced inventory control software that does everything you need it to while still fitting in your price range. With this software, you should be able to monitor inventory levels in real time, make sure products are delivered on time, manage multiple locations, and make inventory processes more efficient. Fishbowl Inventory is a great inventory solution because it offers all of these features, and it integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks. This means your accounting and inventory records get updated at the same time. No more double data entry or concerns about data accuracy.
10. Collecting and Using Data
To make any of the improvements on this list, you need to have the right information. Everything I’ve talked about is based on you getting informed and then applying that knowledge to specific challenges.
To collect and use data prudently: Do all of the things I’ve already talked about. Keep using the Web tracking tools that give you insights into your customers’ behavior. Add inventory control software to your arsenal of data-gathering tools to help you organize information on your warehouses, stock levels and sales into simple charts. These will come in handy. For example, if you want to convince other people in your company that you need to change something, it really helps if you have concrete facts to back up your claims.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this list and that you’ve found some things you can start doing today to make your business stronger. Feel free to share your successes or suggestions of other things to improve in a comment below.
By the way, this is the third time I’ve split a top 10 list into two blog posts. My first two posts involved Mr. Miyagi and Homer Simpson giving inventory management tips. Be sure to check those out, too.
Robert Lockard is a copywriter with Fishbowl. He writes for several blogs about inventory management, manufacturing, QuickBooks, and small business. Fishbowl is the #1-requested manufacturing and warehouse management software for QuickBooks users. Robert enjoys running, reading, writing, spending time with his wife and children, and watching movies.