27 February 2014

Ways to spring clean your business

With spring around the corner, now's the time to take a fresh look at your business and make sure it's working as well as it can.

As winter comes to an end and spring is finally around the corner, it’s time to take a fresh look at your business. This is an ideal time of year to spring clean your business and make sure it is working as well as it can.

If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some simple steps you can take now.

1. Review your marketing

Take a look at where the bulk of your customer enquiries are coming from and which ones are converting to sales. Spending time looking at the sources of your leads will give you a better idea of where you should be focusing your marketing budget. You will also be able to see which strategies are not working for you, so you can cut your spend in these areas.

This may mean moving from traditional forms of advertising like posting in the classified sections of newspapers, to internet-based alternatives, including pay-per-click advertising. Or it may be that you need to change up your email marketing or make more effort to sell additional products to your existing customers. 

2. Check customer data and satisfaction

If you have a database of customers or a mailing list, spring is a great time to work out whether you are doing enough to keep their interest. What is your retention rate like? Keeping existing customers is less costly - and easier- than selling and marketing to new customers, so if your retention rate is low, try to find out why. A simple customer satisfaction survey may be all that's needed to identify areas for change. 

To look further in depth, analyse your customers to find out which ones have the best lifetime value - who spend the largest amount or who buy repeatedly form you. These are the customers you want to make extra effort to keep. 

Make sure you're engaging with your customers. Do you interact with them through social media sites like Facebook or Twitter? Are you offering them exciting deals or tempting discounts? Spend some time brainstorming ways you can reach out to your customers and make them more interested in your brand. 

3. Evaluate your operations

Have you done a recent comparison of your competitors? Make sure you're up to date with any new products or services and that you are objective when you compare their services or products with yours.

Check your expenses - utility bills, postage costs, insurance, loans etc and see if there is anything you can reduce. Also check your account thoroughly (if you don't already) to make sure there are no mystery charges or fees. Are you paying over the odds for software licences when there are perfectly good open source options. Or perhaps you could benefit from newer technology. Many restaurants now have systems where staff use tablets to take orders. These are immediately relayed to the kitchen/bar and added to the bill, saving time and errors caused by bad handwriting or memory. Could mobile technology improve your business?

4. Think visual

Clearing the clutter can offer a visual spring clean - as well as boost productivity. Individual desks and communal storage areas gradually build up clutter and piles of ‘useful things’ which haven’t been looked at for months. Set aside half a day for your team to have a thorough clear out. Bring in lots of coloured containers so you can separate out items for recycling and maybe some useful items which could go to charity. 

Don’t forget that if you are short on storage space, we offer storage units and self-store options at many of our business centres, so you can keep important items safely out of the way. Your clean and tidy work environment is sure to be a nicer place to spend time, offering a boost in staff morale.

Your workplace de-clutter should also include your electronic files and emails. Purge emails and get rid of draft copies of documents you'll never read again. 

If you want to go one step further, think about whether you need a makeover - be it your workplace, your website or even your brand. This could be time consuming and incur costs, so you'll need to weigh up the potential benefits.  

5. Look at your commercial premises

Is your current business space working for you? Many companies make the mistake of committing to expensive long-term leases, which can be difficult to keep up with. We offer flexible and affordable options, allowing you to easily move units if you experience business growth or if you need to downsize. You can also move in to your new business unit straight away, after signing a simple one page licence agreement. Our business centre managers will be able to offer advice and suggest the best workspace for your company’s needs.

6. Ask for suggestions

If you have staff, ask them for their suggestions on how your business could improve. Your employees may be able to show you problems or areas of weakness that you are not really aware of. Whether it is giving you feedback on issues raised by your customers or coming up with an innovative new idea, your staff are your greatest resource so be sure to include them in your discussions.

If you think people may feel too self-conscious talking about their ideas, you could always set up an anonymous suggestion box to allow people to share their thoughts. A customer survey may also be a great way to generate new and creative ideas to drive your business forward.

Do you have any top tips for spring cleaning your business?  Share them with us on Twitter or Facebook.

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