| Business Efficiency: Simple Ideas That Will Save Time

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Saving time and money is a top priority for almost all business owners. That is how you become more productive and reduce workloads. However, achieving that goal isn’t always as easy as it might sound. In many instances, you will have to think outside of the box and look for some expert advice. In the hope of pointing you in the right direction, there are some suggestions in this article. All of them should assist you in working towards your efficiency ambitions. Of course, there is always more to learn, and so you need to continue your research after leaving this page. Just use this information as your starting point.

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Use Specialist Software for Your Contracts

All business owners have to keep contracts handy at all times. That is because you never know when an employee will act negligently. You also never know when a client might break their sales arrangements. You’ll never manage to deal with those issues if you can’t take a quick look at the original paperwork. Top contract management software will remove all the hard work from that process. Whatever happens, you just have to log into the system to retrieve everything you require. That’s much better than keeping the documents in paper form. We all know how easy it is to lose files of that nature.

 

Remove Human Interaction As Much As Possible

The concept of automation in the business world has become popular during recent years. There are many ways in which you can remove human interaction from the equation. Obviously, that would help most companies to become more efficient. For example, you might consider making an investment in the latest accounting packages. Some of them will record all your financial transactions automatically. You could also follow the same strategy when dealing with supplier orders. If your stock runs low, there are software solutions that would send an email to your vendors without any interaction from your team.

 

Know When to Outsource Tasks Within Your Operation

Sometimes you have to hire specialists to manage certain parts of your company. Let’s presume you employ a huge team to deal with customer service issues. It takes a long time to work through all those complaints and questions. So, your company isn’t as efficient as it would become if you chose to outsource. There are plenty of expert firms out there that could handle the process on your behalf. In most situations, you just have to provide them with a script to follow. Your customers won’t know the difference, but you will take a step closer to optimum efficiency.

 

Having read those suggestions, you now need to put them into action. There is no time to delay when it comes to making your company more efficient. That is one of the best ways to avoid wasted time and increase your profits. So, consider the advice from this page as you develop your growth strategy for next year. I guarantee that you won’t regret using some of this advice to ensure you make the best moves possible. See you next time!

| Train Your Employees For Profit Growth

Posted in Staffing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Managing your employees is a lot more than simply attracting the right people for the jobs and paying them each month. Employee management is both an art and a science. You need to strike a fine balance to make sure that you get the best out your employees and that, in turn, will help your business to grow. Your employees are your greatest asset so you need to know how to look after them properly. Employee training, on an ongoing basis, is a key aspect of employee management and has many benefits for both the employee and your business profits.

Reasons Why You Need to Invest In Employee Training

A trained employee is a happy employee. There is no doubt that employee training results in improved job satisfaction and increased morale. Employees are more motivated and enthusiastic when they have been trained and that results in more sales and more profit. Your organization becomes more efficient because employees are not wasting their time on outdated techniques and modalities that do not work. Overall, your employee turnover decreases and this has massive financial benefits for you because recruitment costs a lot of money and is very time-consuming and disruptive.

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The Best Training to Provide Employees

There are some types of training that bring maximum benefits to your business. Top of the list has got to be sales enablement best practices training which will give your employees the best practices, tools, technologies, and processes to use in increasing productivity and performance. The focus on inbound marketing includes detailed instruction on sales coaching, onboarding, performance analysis and content generation leaving you with a highly skilled and highly effective workforce who can generate profits for your business.

Computer skills are also highly relevant to all businesses. If you are able to train a designated employee to deal with your IT issues you could save a lot of money in outsourcing the work or buying in a consultant. Your employee will have a better understanding of what your business needs in terms of IT equipment and connectivity. They work in your organization every day and so they will be able to spot where the problems are arising and where improvements can be made. They are also on site and readily available, with a working knowledge of your equipment, should things go wrong.

Health and safety is an important aspect of all business and without a good knowledge of the best working practices, you could be putting your employees at risk. The law requires you to safeguard the health and safety of your employees and providing health and safety training is a key aspect of this. Start by finding out what the law requires you to provide as a minimum. This will differ between industries. Then go above and beyond what is required. Your employees will appreciate that you have their welfare at heart and you will see this reflected in productivity rates.

Invest in training your employees now and reap the benefits in the future!

| How to Find the Best Suppliers for Your Business

Posted in Small Business at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

Supplying your business with the correct goods is important. If your business can’t find the right suppliers, you won’t be able to get a constant stream of goods to help you manufacture and sell your product. Even if you have reliable suppliers right now, there’s no telling if they’ll be out of business in the near future, or if they’ll suddenly stop selling certain supplies and, as a result, force you to find new suppliers.

The truth is, every business needs more than one supplier. There needs to be variation because it forces there to be competition. If you have a supplier that constantly gives you deals and has excellent customer service, then they’re going to be a lot more reliable in the long term than a company that doesn’t try to establish a working relation with your business. In order to find the best suppliers, you’ll need to use a combination of networking and research, and here are a couple of tips to help you out.

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Identify the Suppliers That You Need

First, identify what exactly you need from your suppliers. For instance, maybe you need linear actuators to create a product that requires repeated movements such as a bed or a disc drive. Perhaps you need specific types of e-clips to secure components in a device. Whatever it is, write down a list of specific products that you need that can only be bought from specialty stores. This will help you in your search for the right supplier. There are times when you might need to visit multiple suppliers because you need various different products, so separate them based on the business you purchase from and always find at least two or three suppliers for each component you need.

 

Network at Trade Shows And Events

A great place to look for reputable suppliers is to network at trade shows and events. When you attend with your product or a sample, make sure you speak to as many people as possible so that you can identify new suppliers, make deals and even meet people that can refer you to different suppliers. Networking is important when attempting to get the best deal because you can socialise and make friends with industry figureheads who know all about where to get the supplies you need. In some cases, trade shows that you attend could be made for components and suppliers, and you’ll have so much choice to choose from that it can be difficult to decide. However, the more people you meet and the more contacts you connect with, the higher the chance you’ll find the best suppliers.

 

Negotiate Pricing Before Production

Another important aspect of finding the best supplier is to negotiate. When you’re in the middle of negotiations with one business, don’t neglect the possibility of speaking to another business at the same time. At the end of the day, you’re a company that wants to get the best deal on products and haggling is a natural part of running a business.

| Ecommerce Platforms: How To Make Your Money

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

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Business nowadays is mainly constructed online. The internet has opened up a massive gateway both for consumers and sellers; those who haven’t considered the option of listing what they’ve got to sell on the net, whether it be a physical item or a service, are missing out on great opportunity. It’s not so much that people aren’t looking around the stores that they’ve got in offer in their home town – it’s just that everything is accessible via the net, and whereas a day’s shopping in real life may procure some good results from things that you haven’t expected to come across, shopping online cuts out the need to waste time looking for things which may not be there.

With that said, there are a lot of companies that aren’t getting it right when coming to taking their business to a digital state. There are certain things to cover, from design to insurance to marketing – how can you hit each one successfully?

 

Sort Out Your Shipping

When you start selling via an online platform, you need to ensure that you have everything in stock – or at least will know exactly when a product will be with you. The public don’t wait around when they want something; we are in a demand culture where we expect everything in a very short time span due to services such as Amazon Prime and Express Delivery getting products to us faster than ever before. If you are importing from abroad, consider getting a shipping lawyer from IRB Law or another reputable company to cover any accidents happening with your cargo. This is especially important if you are operating a business via eBay or another marketplace; financial losses from loss of cargo can directly affect your business and how you operate in the future. You need what you’ve got to sell in the fastest time possible.

 

Look At Your Platforms

The main thing about opening an online shop is that you are looking at how navigable it is to your consumer. If your buyer can’t get from A to B in the buying process both quickly and easily, you can guarantee that they won’t be returning to your store in a hurry. There are a lot of recommended ecommerce platforms available for you to look through, but make sure to look at the pros and cons thoroughly for what works best for your business.

 

Hit Your Target Demographic

If you’re not reaching out properly to those that you should be, your sales will suffer as a result. The language that you use, the graphics that you incorporate and even the angles and background in the shots of your products to sell all differ depending on the group of people that you are aiming for. Being able to pinpoint what you need to do is a matter of looking at those who have gone before you and succeeded; don’t try and reinvent the wheel, but utilize what you can find online to your advantage. It always works.

| Getting The Most From Your Workforce

Posted in Staffing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

As a business owner, you’ll know that you need to squeeze as much as you can from your resources. Every single thing that contributes to your business is going to have 100% effort, and input asked of it in some way shape or form. This is unavoidable and if a business wants to succeed this always has to happen. Certainly, some bigger businesses will be able to cut the slack simply because things are a bit easier for bigger businesses – they’ve already ‘made it’ you see.  You’ll have to make the best user possible of your working space; you’ll have to push your ideas to the limit, you’ll need to make sure that every single penny counts and of course, you’ll need to ensure that you are getting the most from your staff. This is tough work! But you’ll have to do it if you want to get anywhere in the world of business

Make the most of your staff? Yes – indeed you will. Using your workforce in the right manner is critical to the productivity of a business. You need to get the most from your staff so your business can run well. However, there’s an issue – your staff will never be able to give you 100% of their effort. It’s impossible. It’s well known that even on a good day, you’ll be pushing your luck if you can get staff members to devote 75% of their full effort to working. Some staff members will devote their life to giving 100%, but this cannot be expected from the vast majority – and that’s ok – we’re all human – you, as a business owner need to account for this at all times and do your best to engage your workforce to ensure they are doing what they can to ensure the business is operating well.

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Engage your workforce? Yes – a survey showed that only 13 percent of employees are engaged at work. That’s worrying. That means your productivity suffers because of human nature – so that means that you need to work extra hard to ensure your staff is engaged in their work. Easier said than done? Maybe.

You need to ensure that your staff is educated about workplace policies. You need to develop your staff and work with e-learning companies to deliver learning materials that can help them do their job – or learn new parts or techniques of it. IF your staff are trained, they can perform their job to a better standard and they might be more engaged with the role.

You also might believe that compensation is enough to ensure your staff get on with the job. This is not always true – even when staff are paid well, your workers might believe that they are underpaid. These thoughts are a natural flaw of our thinking, but it still happens. You’ll have to do a lot of deep digging within your business to get your staff engaged. Ensure your workers are not overworked and stressed out – ensure that their roles are enough for them to handle. Stress will destroy your workforce. There are plenty of ways to get staff engaged, but the solution isn’t always clear. You’ll need to find it to succeed – though.

| Maximize On Your Small Office

Posted in Staffing at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

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Has your cramped office been getting you down? If so, you need to figure out how you can maximize your limited office space so that you can make your work area as efficient as possible. Here are some great tips that should help you do just that!
Have Stand-Up Meetings

Stand-up meetings are becoming very popular with companies for numerous reasons. One is that they encourage meetings to be very brief and to-the-point as no one wants to be on their feet for too long! But they are also very useful if your business as limited space in the office. People can just stand in the middle of the office or walk around if you don’t have the space for a dedicated meeting room. One great advantage of walking meetings is that they get everyone’s blood flowing, which can really help generate inspiration!

 

Use Light Well

There are a few ways you can create the illusion of space in a tight office, one of which is allowing as much natural light in as possible. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough windows for this, you can just be clever with artificial lighting instead. For instance, you should use LED spotlights that illuminate the whole floor space, rather than just illuminating the ceiling. This can help make the room feel a lot larger than what it actually is.

 

Reduce Your Paper

Clutter is going to make your office feel significantly tight on space, and one of the main sources of clutter is paper. You can try and reduce all of this by printing fewer documents and contracts, instead store them in the cloud. Alternatively, you might want to think about using document storage services. These firms will collect all of your sensitive documents and contracts and store them in their warehouse for you, which can save you a whole lot of space!

 

Think Vertically

In a large office, you would be able to add quite a few filing cabinets and drawers. However, you just won’t have the space for this in your small space. Because of this, you need to start thinking vertically and seeing if you can add some shelves to your walls. You might also want to add some wall hooks for coats and jackets. These will save the space that would be taken up by a standing coat rack.

 

Don’t Use Too Much Art

Art can really brighten up your office space and add a touch of your own personality to the space. However, if you use too many busy patterns and go overboard with the wall hangings, you might find that it feels like the walls are closing in! Rather than adding lots of different artworks to your walls, you should stick to one bold color for an accent wall. This will attract attention and help your office space look very stylish!

No office is ever too small once you start to use these tips! You might be surprised to find just how spacious you can make yours feel!

| Made in America is back! The benefits of reshoring

Posted in Manufacturing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Reshoring may seem like too big and logistically complicated a commitment for most business owners, but it just so happens to be one the strongest trends in manufacturing in recent years.

For those unfamiliar with the prospect, reshoring is the practice of returning manufacturing operations to the US that had previously been moved to another country (typically in Asia or Mexico).

Many cite logistical complications or cost as a deciding factor in businesses not reshoring their operations to their home turf but as this injection molding cost calculator illustrates, rising costs of overseas production are proving that overseas production can be an increasingly false economy.

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But it doesn’t stop at cost. Here are some unexpected benefits of reshoring manufacturing operations:

 

Quality

Overseas production may have seemed attractive due to its low cost. But low cost may mean low quality parts, low quality tools, low quality labor and low quality technology. The logistics of shipping can result in your business having an inventory full of cheaply made, low quality products and by the time you find out about it, it’s already too late.

Today’s consumers value quality that you just won’t get from countries with lax manufacturing laws.

 

Control

Overseas production relies on you placing a great deal of trust in manufacturers’ production processes. Ensuring that products meet your exacting standards can be logistically complicated or even impossible. Many foreign countries are less stringent in their worker conditions, product standardization and quality control. Relocating manufacturing to US soil allows for greater control of product quality and greater assurances that manufacturing staff are working in fair and safe conditions.

 

Feeds Competition and Innovation At Home

As industry, jobs and infrastructure return to US soil you will be uniquely positioned to help feed the country’s industrial recovery and lead innovation.

Over the past 30-40 years as manufacturing has drifted towards Asian territories, Singapore, China, Korea and Japan have achieved great innovation through manufacturing.

Streamlining

Goods produced overseas come with inherent complications and overheads. Goods are shipped from overseas to warehouses at home where they must be stored and transported to stores, businesses and individuals. These processes can be time consuming, risky and expensive.

Goods made on US soil usually have much simpler distribution processes that represent a reduction in risk, time delays and costs.

It also makes sense to bring your products closer to their intended American consumers. Reshoring production back onto American soil puts production capacity closer to the home market and presents a huge reduction in time-to-market for completed products.

 

Creating Jobs At Home

Unemployment levels are on the up but America still has millions of unemployed men and women struggling to find gainful employment. Reshoring is a great way to ensure that American workers have skilled jobs to help grow our economy and status as a global manufacturing hub.

Every business is different and the scope of your operation and the extent of your existing commitments will determine how readily you can reshore manufacturing back home, but these are some important reasons why you should at least consider it.

| How To Stay Motivated In Your Business

Posted in Small Business at 5:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

When you take the first step towards starting your own business, you feel nothing but excitement, exhilaration, and perhaps a touch of fear. These emotions kept you motivated through the highs and lows of being accountable for your own income. However, as time passes, those positive emotions can be replaced by exhaustion, boredom, and a lack of motivation. This is a problem not just for your startup, but for your income if you’ve given up your day job to become a full time entrepreneur. It can be tough to maintain the level of enthusiasm that inspired you to become your own boss in the first place, but unless you do your business won’t thrive. Here are a few suggestions to help you stay motivated.

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Set a Personal Mission Statement

You started your business for a reason; because you wanted to improve something within an industry or provide a service for people. Whatever your reason was, it was personal and it came from a desire to do something. It can help to write down a short statement that summarizes the broader goals, culture, and underlying core values of your business. As long as you remain clear on your mission, you’ll find it easier to stay motivated.

Know When You Need Help

Entrepreneurship has only really become a popular career path in recent years, so chances are your lack of motivation comes from inexperience. You can’t hope to navigate through the trials of owning your own business if you don’t know exactly what needs to be done. Up until now you’ve had supervisors and bosses guiding your career, but now you need a different kind of training to make it as a business owner. Fortunately for you, there are companies such as Scrum On that have made it their business help others navigate their own business. A consultant or a special training course might be the thing you need to figure out your next step.

Find a Mentor

Most entrepreneurs struggle with motivation because up until now they’ve had a boss looking over their shoulder and making sure they stick to deadlines. If you’re motivated by peer pressure and external deadlines, then you need a mentor to make sure you stick to your business goals, and give you valuable advice about overcoming common challenges.

Spend Time in Inspirational Places

It can help to take a step back from your business every once in a while and spend time on something else. Watching a TED Talk, reading an inspiring novel, or listening to podcasts while exercising can reignite your entrepreneurial flame.

Sleep

Sometimes your work becomes lackluster because you’ve been burning the candle at both ends. You may be in the critical early stages of your business, or you may be going through a crisis of some sort, but there is nothing that can’t be solved with a good night’s sleep. After a night of deep rest, you will feel refreshed and in a better state of mind to tackle your problems.

| 4 Tips For Managing Freelance Contractors

Posted in Staffing at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

When you are running a company that hires freelance contractors for independent work, you have a lot of things to manage. Thankfully, this doesn’t include equipment or full-time expenses like permanent staff do. Outsourcing can be wonderful for a business, especially financially, but it can come with its pitfalls.

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Sometimes, outsourcing trade freelancers are difficult to manage when you consider time, cultural differences and distance. Even when you are hiring freelancers, you should make sure you are aware of what qualifications, potential police checks, references and trade insurance they should have before working on the job. We’ve collated four tips for you so that you can be confident in managing the freelance contractors on your books:

 

  1. Finding the right people can be difficult. You can advertise trade freelancers on jobs boards and if you personally know any, grab recommendations from them for others who may need work. When you use a freelance platform to recruit for your company, it can be easy for some as all your contractors are in one place to communicate with. You may prefer to use phone or email to communicate with your contractors, which is just as efficient as a platform.
  2. Bringing on the right freelance contractors can take some time. Not only do you have to do the right background and criminal records checks, you have to ensure that they are responsible for their own insurance and taxes. Some contractors may not be used to working through a company, so there will be an adjustment period while you both get used to each other. Don’t make the mistake of switching through your list of freelancers at the first hurdle; it takes time to get to know the way someone works.
  3. Communication is one of your biggest tools when you are bringing on freelance contractors. It’s important for you as a business leader to be able to be open and communicate with your contractors in both a positive and a negative way. Always over-explain where you can and spell out all the instructions necessary in the plainest way possible. Freelancers do not work one to one with you as they are in the field, so you need to be clear and concise at all times.
  4. The last thing you really need to worry about is the productivity of your freelance contractors. If your employees are unhappy in any way, this can affect their ability to keep motivated in their role. Freelance work is self-employed, meaning that they work harder and accomplish things faster when they feel productive in their jobs. Positive feedback and reinforcement on how they do their role is helpful and getting reviews on their work from the businesses they complete work for is also a way to make them realise they’re doing well.

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Ideally, you will have everything in place for your freelancers to work safely, productively and that keeps them insured at the same time. Protecting your employees is important, whether they are permanent or freelance.

| How to Bring in More Business

Posted in Marketing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

If you own an already established business, you may be wondering how to increase your clientele. It’s the only real way to move your business into the next phase. Getting more clients means marketing to a bigger audience, but it’s often difficult to know where to start. Here are a few strategies for growing your business and getting more people through the doors.

 

Target the Right People

If you’ve been in business a while, you’ll already know that there’s no point in marketing to people who’ll never be interested in your product. For instance, you aren’t going to market women’s swimwear at an all-male event. It’s important to re-evaluate who your audience is as your business grows. When you’ve defined your audience, you can build your marketing tools and strategies around it.

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Keep Learning

As with any other job, it’s important to keep learning as you go. Technology changes every day and it’s a big part of keeping businesses alive. If you think you or your employees could benefit from a little training, it’s certainly worth investing in. Many employers have found a masters in leadership to be beneficial when it comes to motivating employees and negotiating deals. Similarly, you could send your employees on annual training courses, just to make sure the business is working with the most up to date methods.

 

Reward Current Clients

Many businesses have allowed their customers to do the hard work for them. Reward schemes that ask current clients to invite new clients to use the same business for a reward are highly likely to succeed. For example, you could offer your clients a 20% discount on their next shop when they refer a friend and that friend makes a purchase. It gives your customers more of an incentive to spread the word. The more people they refer, the more of a discount they get. The business won’t suffer any loss because it’s money that would have been spent on a different type of marketing anyway.

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Trade Shows

Trade shows are vital for bringing in new clients. It goes without saying that if people don’t know what your product does or what your business is about, they aren’t likely to spend money on you. As an established business, now isn’t the time to stop. Trade shows will always have fresh eyes and new businesses to make contacts with. Even if you only attend once a year, make sure you have a presence at the most relevant shows.

 

Gather Information

Knowing your target audience is the first step. The second is gathering as much information from clients as possible. Learn about the people most likely to buy from you. Make sure you get their email addresses for newsletters or updates and make note of the type of people reacting to social media posts. There are many different ways you can gather information about your clients. You can get some ideas here.

Bringing in more business doesn’t happen overnight. You have to be just as patient as you were when you were starting out.


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