By Daniel Beaule, Service 2000 Appliance
“Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice..”. The bottleneck is always at the top of the bottle. You the owner is the reason why you don’t have time. For this reason, you must free time to see the greater picture in order to make sound decisions. You may ask “how can I do this when I’m already overwhelmed by duties and have no such luxury as free time?” Here are 5 tips to free some of your time.
Don’t just read this, pick one and do it!
- Implement a continuous improvement process. Look at every duty that you execute repeatedly and find a way to automate, delegate, batch execute or defer. The rule is this: if you repeat 8 times the same task, there’s room for optimization. Wear your “Lean” eyes to identify time wasted throughout your process.
- Introduce a closed door policy. People managing their time most effectively understand that they’re surrounded by “time eaters”, coming to chit chat, asking unnecessary questions, coasting, etc. Be conscious of these situations and inform them that from now on, they can only talk to you when your door is open. Have some professional ‘me’ time outside the office or with the door closed in your office so you can work on building your business.
- Train your people to become better employees. Transfer responsibilities, allow a budget so people can make decisions without asking, they’ll want more!!! If you do not think it’s possible, you either have confidence issues or the wrong people in the boat… (no harm intended, just brutal honesty)
- Solve the root cause of problems. Identify why crises happen and solve the root causes. For example, avoid angry customer calls asking for updates by teaching your technicians to manage customers’ expectations and call in advance to specify a time frame and to inform of any changes. More on that in a following article about the Important Urgent matrix.
- Practice makes perfect. Have you ever gotten stuck talking to grandma who’s explaining how her old Maytag 1963 washer was a life changing experience? Control the conversation. Gently interrupt by focusing on helping to solve her problem. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I’d like to know more about the type of noise that you’re experiencing. Is it more …” Learn to ask closed questions, disqualify fast, offer choices (don’t ask someone if they want a service call, instead ask them when they want one. Don’t ask your customer if there is something else you can do for you over the phone, you suggest this or that with the end in mind). Cut 15 seconds per communications 50 times per day and you just gain one extra hour per week for the rest of your life. For a CSR, it’s a couple calls not dropped on Monday morning rush hour…
Oh, one last thing, do it! Post comments if you did it and let us know how it went.
Daniel Beaule is a Gazelles International Certified Business coach who teaches business owners and teams of executives how to accelerate their business without damaging their people, cash and culture. He is also president of Service 2000 Appliance located in the Montreal Area, Canada.