Keeping your business flexible makes you more able to respond to changes in the marketplace. It also facilitates future growth by shortening the time you take to meet needs and show customers you’re ready to cater to them.
Here are some effective ways to progressively make your business more flexible.
Explore Remote Working Options
When workplace flexibility initially comes to mind, it often involves working from home. Remote work could indeed be a crucial part of making your company more flexible.
Once your enterprise gets serious about moving forward with remote work, you may need to explore what it means to be productive. Is it more important that a person completes all their urgent items during a day or begins at 9 a.m. sharp?
Explore what tools you could offer to help employees make the most of their time working remotely, too. Could specialized apps help them stay focused and avoid pitfalls?
Use Data to Guide Decision-Making
Many company owners conclude that having a flexible business is essential rather than optional. Consumer tastes change, supply availability may shift and demand for items could fluctuate in some regions more than others. How can you discover the most effective ways to focus on flexibility?
Your company’s internal data could be an excellent place to start. For example, you might begin by looking at recent comments from customers. You could find a pattern where people say things like, “I wish you offered a choice of shipping speeds. I’d pay more for faster deliveries if the company provided them.” In that case, you’d know that increasing shipping flexibility is a smart starting point.
Avoid making assumptions whenever possible. Your data can clarify which business areas need more flexibility. Remember, too, that by targeting these concepts, you’re likely addressing many aspects that could otherwise restrict your company’s growth potential.
Consider the Opportunities for Outsourcing
Perhaps a lack of human resources is the main problem preventing you from achieving the desired level of flexibility. That’s a common challenge that outsourcing can solve. Outsourcing partners have skilled professionals ready to fill your company’s needs. You then have more time to devote to your core business goals instead of issues you may be ill-equipped to address.
For example, if you depend on a contract packager’s services, that entity has the knowledge, experience, specialized equipment and trained team members to meet your needs. Having those resources in place means the packaging company can scale up quickly as your requirements dictate.
As you look for an outsourcing partner, prioritize the companies that listen to your needs and proactively suggest how to solve them. If a company seems unable to adjust to accommodate the “what if” scenarios that may arise, they’re likely not the best option.
Expand Your Lead Generation Approaches
Business flexibility also means being willing to engage with potential customers in ways you haven’t tried before. For example, hosting or attending an event are two effective methods of offline lead generation worth exploring.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with using online options for attracting leads. However, it’s best to diversify your strategies in case some of them have reduced impacts over time. Consider, too, that many people who may become interested in your business may not spend much time online. Utilizing offline methods allows you to reach more people.
Whether you use new online or offline lead generation methods, keep track of metrics for each one. It’ll then be easier to determine if you should scale up your usage of one approach versus another, especially when appealing to a particular target audience segment.
Assess How Technology Could Help
The COVID-19 pandemic revealed that many companies might need to go through tech upgrades to get ready for the new normal. However, even before then, businesses used innovations like cloud computing and chatbots to keep their operations running smoothly.
Your business probably already uses technology to some extent. However, aim to take a more specific look at how tech could support your flexibility goals. For example, you might invest in an inventory management tool to get a clearer picture of top-selling items and slower-moving products. Having that data helps you show more flexibility when deciding which items to order.
Alternatively, perhaps you spend a significant amount of time scheduling shifts each week and dealing with fluctuating staffing requirements. A scheduling app could make the process more efficient. Some even let employees swap shifts and get approval through those tools, saving time for everyone.
Request Feedback From Employees
Your workers may give input about making your business more flexible and provide suggestions you hadn’t thought of yet. Someone in the customer service department could point out an increase in the people feeling dissatisfied with your returns policy since it changed a few months ago. Another worker might say that a growing number of shoppers commented that they wish a store stayed open an hour later.
The need for flexibility may extend to work environments, too. We’ve already discussed remote possibilities, but there are other ways to assist your team. Maybe you could give them the choice of being paid every monthly or bimonthly. Some roles may suit offering people flexible start times as long as they work the required number of hours.
It’s understandable if you can’t act on all the feedback right away — or at all. However, workers will appreciate you that took the time to ask them for ideas about how to make the company more flexible. They’ll be more likely to conclude that you value them and their perspectives.
A Moving Target
As you put these tips into practice, it’s crucial to realize that there will not be a particular day in the future when your business reaches a point of maximum flexibility. View your goal as an evolving one. What it means to show flexibility will shift along with your company’s needs. Knowing that will help you make optimal gains.
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