By David Crary
I was talking to a contractor the other day that was an efficiency expert. He’d thought of nearly everything – from the most fuel efficient truck to the way he organized parts in that truck – to make doing his jobs as efficient as possible.
That got me thinking: How can you optimize your office to make it more efficient? Below are five tips to help you get started.
- Install Work Order Software – I might be biased, but if you don’t have work order software to manage your business, you’re more than likely running a terribly inefficient office. Even if you’ve got wonderful paper processes, you’re still taking time to find the piece of paper you need, spending vast amounts of time deciphering illegible notes, or just plain losing pieces of paper. And every lost or illegible piece of paper is probably costing you money.
The solution is work order software. Its central database eliminates all that paper in your office. It makes you more productive because all the information about everyone calling your office is just a few mouse clicks away. It makes communicating with your field personnel simple because they can retrieve work order information and input what work and parts they did using their mobile field service software. And it simplifies billing because all the work order information can be sent to Quickbooks with a few mouse clicks.
- Use Mobile Devices in the Field – If you use work order software, you also need to be using mobile devices in the field. I know you’re probably thinking “How does using a mobile device in the field make my office more efficient?” Simply put, it eliminates a lot of the back and forth between the office and your field personnel.
As an example, if you aren’t using work order software, your field team is probably constantly calling the office for clarification about what they should be doing at the job site, where they should be going and relaying job information back to the office. But if you’re using mobile devices, all of that data can be communicated electronically, letting your office team focus on the customer, not on field personnel.
- Create a Smart Organizational System – OK, so now that you’ve got work order software and mobile devices out in the field, let’s start looking at ways to optimize your office team’s day-to-day job. One way to do that is to create an organizational system that makes them more efficient.
I’ll admit I’m not an organizational junkie. My desk is typically a cluttered mess. But in talking to other office workers, they swear by a method where the things you need most frequently are within arm’s reach. For me, that means my trusty notepad and a pen are always right there. There’s a calendar directly in front of my field of view. I like to use folders to store what little paperwork I have, so the five or six folders I use most frequently are on a rising folder stand next to my computer. The things I use most frequently are nearest me, while those I use infrequently are further away, or in a file cabinet. It’s simple, but a very effective way to be more efficient.
- Hold a Short, Weekly Meeting – I’m not going to lie, I hate meetings. But they are a necessary evil when getting everyone working toward the same goal. And if you want to make your office staff more efficient, you want them all focused on the same thing.
The best way to do that is to hold a weekly meeting. Schedule that meeting for a half hour and have a specific agenda. Talk about your progress toward your goals, any issues you’re having, and any things you need to accomplish the following week. If you aren’t setting goals, tracking your to-dos and solving issues, you’re going to have a hard time being an efficient office team.
- Get a sign – One of our developers has a sign that reads “I’m not here.” When he has a tight deadline, he puts up that sign, which alerts everyone else that he shouldn’t be disturbed.
And you know what? It works. He’s more productive when his sign is up. So have your office staff invest in a Do Not Disturb sign that they can put up when they really need to get a project done. Without all the little interruptions, you’ll be surprised about how efficient they’ll be.
By implementing these five relatively simple tips, your office staff is sure to get more done throughout every single day. And the more efficient they are, the more they’re likely to get done and, ultimately, the more money they’ll make.
Need some more tips to improve your business? Check out our eBook, 10 Ways to Improve Your Business in the Offseason today.