Thursday, April 16, 2015

Business back-ups

     Free daily tips, information, advice and ideas
    to help you better manage your small business.

    Customers and clients don't want to hear about your problems. They have problems, too. This means that your small business cannot afford to go dark. No reason is good enough.

    Equipment breaks down. Employees call in sick. Suppliers suddenly go bankrupt. Many things can go wrong. It's up to the business owner to anticipate problems that can occur. And have in place business back-ups.

    Example: Elena specializes in finishing kitchens and baths with tile, granite, marble, slate and other materials. Most of the work is with ceramic and porcelain tiles imported from all over the world. She must know and stay in contact with many suppliers who can vary widely in products, availability and price. She has made it part of her business model to keep abreast of the market and maintain alternate suppliers. A client-specified porcelain tile might be in inventory at one supplier at a high price, but it can be delivered in two weeks at another supplier at a much lower price. Elena juggles suppliers against need, price and schedules. 

     Example: Eric runs a rug and carpet cleaning service. He serves residential and commercial accounts. Jobs are scheduled days in advance, and Eric sends two employees to each job in fully equipped vans. He cross-trains his employees in cleaning techniques and use of equipment--this gives him flexibility and back-up. Sometimes, employees call in sick the day of a scheduled appointment. This means Eric must substitute employees to meet schedules. When he runs out of substitutions, Eric jumps in the van himself. 

     Example: Dan runs a mid-sized printing operation. He has anticipated equipment breakdowns by having duplicate presses and computers to handle jobs without interruption. He also made arrangements with a friendly competitor--if his shop had a big problem, jobs could be farmed out to the competitor and vice-versa. Both realized that getting the job done on time was more important than competition. 

     There is never an excuse good enough to let down a client. They have their own problems, and you must fit into their schedules.

     Backing up your operation is critical to ultimate success. You back up employees, equipment, suppliers, and anything else that can interfere with on-time deliveries. 

     Business back-ups include your clients as well. Sooner or later, you'll lose every client you have. You back them up by having a stream of new clients coming on board.