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Want to be More Efficient? Learn from Manufacturing!

One thing I’ve noticed over the years is entrepreneurs looking to improve the way they run their businesses tend to look around within their own industry.  So if you’re a restaurateur, you’re visiting other dining establishments and chatting with other restaurant owners about their recipes for success (pardon the pun.)  It makes sense, of course, but I’ve learned that it’s foolish to stop looking for solutions once you’ve canvassed other people in your industry.

In fact, one of the richest sources of inspiration – particularly when it comes to efficiency – is manufacturing.  How do I know?  One of my companies is a small manufacturer!  And I’ve learned so much from that company that applies across the board, regardless of my niche.  What kinds of insight have I gained?  Read on!

1. Establish quality controls

How does a manufacturer ensure its products are of top quality?  Quality controls!  They check.  They inspect.  They test.  You may be scratching your head, wondering how you’re supposed to assess the quality of your house cleaning business’s services.  Obviously you don’t have a physical object to inspect, but whether it’s a survey sent out to clients or random spot checks to evaluate your cleaners’ work, finding a way to do quality control checks helps you ensure your customers are satisfied.  If you’re not making sure your clients are happy, there are plenty of other companies who will. 

2. Eliminate bottlenecks

Before you can fix a bottleneck, you have to be aware of it.  Taking a step back and assessing the flow of work and of customers through your company and your staff can let you identify where there are holdups – where the process gets bogged down.  Bottlenecks are productivity slayers because you inevitably have idle staff downstream of the slow point, simply waiting to be able to do their jobs.  Eliminating bottlenecks lets you run at top speed.

3. Eliminate waste

Simply put, if it doesn’t benefit your bottom line or your customers, then it needs to go.  Whether you’re talking about supplies or even about employees, lean, efficient, profitable companies can’t afford waste. 

4. Establish SMART goals

If you don’t articulate company goals, you’re never going to achieve them.  And the best goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Specific – SMART.  If you ensure that every member of your team knows exactly what you’re working toward and how progress will be evaluated, then you’re setting the stage for efficient, focused efforts.

5. Establish systems

Systems are perhaps the biggest key to getting your company running at maximum efficiency and profitability.  Why?  Because everything you can automate frees up you and your staff for other work.  Manufacturers can’t afford to have staff babysitting processes that can be automated, and neither can you.  Establishing systems doesn’t necessarily mean you’re firing employees.  It may just mean that you’re able to put your awesome staff to work on more challenging, profit-producing tasks. 

Making your company more efficient pays huge dividends.  It can reduce wait time for customers.  It can enable you provide better customer service.  It can help you manage your employees better, and most importantly, it can make your company more profitable.  When you’re looking to streamline, take a lesson from manufacturers!

More:

5 Underrated VoIP Features That Will Improve Your Productivity

Productivity Overdrive: Simple Strategies for Accomplishing More in Less Time

The Power of Inefficiency in Great Customer Service

About the author

Mike Michalowicz (pronounced mi-KAL-o-wits) started his first business at the age of 24, moving his young family to the only safe place he could afford – a retirement building. With no experience, no contacts and no savings he systematically bootstrapped a multi-million dollar business. Then he did it again. And again. Now he is doing it for other entrepreneurs. Mike is the CEO of Provendus Group, a consulting firm that ignites explosive growth in companies that have plateaued; is a former small business columnist for The Wall Street Journal; is MSNBC’s business make-over expert; is a keynote speaker on entrepreneurship; and is the author of the cult classic book, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. His newest book, The Pumpkin Plan has already been called “the next E-myth!”