Do you often find yourself running around like a chicken with its head cut off? Do you scramble to get things done and still feel like you’re falling behind? Perhaps you simply feel that there’s more you could be doing in a day, but the day just doesn’t have enough hours.
Below you’ll find 15 time saving tips for retail businesses that will save you seconds, minutes, and hours so that you can spend more time serving your customer and growing your business.
Cloud computing—or even something as simple as using Google’s free software solutions—can save a tremendous amount of time because all of the data you need is stored on the web. Switching to the cloud means you won’t have to swap between devices, carry storage units with you, or risk not being able to access critical documents when you need them.
Outsource Non-Essential Tasks
Do what you do best and let somebody else do the rest. If you’re really good at lead generation but accounting isn’t really your strong suit—outsource it. You can find great local service providers or, if you’re comfortable with it, you can look online for individuals who have the skills you need.
This goes for a lot of everyday tasks that consume far too much of our time. From composing press releases to gathering up market data, if somebody else can do it quicker, better, or cheaper than you, why not let them?
Update Your Software Solutions
Outdated software is holding you back. From scheduling to accounting and even POS systems, there are dozens of low-cost (or even free) options now available thanks to the proliferation of web-based and mobile-based application developers.
Many of these software solutions are custom-built to integrate with other programs you may already be using and offer a wide array of usability that just wasn’t present five or ten years ago.
Create Task-Centric Work Stations
From office work to customer service, if you have everything you need to do a single job in one spot at any given time, you’re going to get the job done a lot faster than if you have to hunt everything down.
Any business can use this tip—from garages to multi-million dollar international enterprises.
Similarly, if you keep everything at work neat and tidy and where it is supposed to be, you’ll have a much easier time of getting things done. This goes for everything from essential documents to the Pledge and Windex—create an organizational system that works, and stick to it.
Shift Marketing to Inbound
Outbound marketing is a lot of wasted time and money. Sure, there’s still a place in a post-modern business for TV commercials and newspaper ads, but you’ll get way more bang for your buck if you switch the majority of your marketing to inbound marketing. Inbound’s biggest outlets are social media outreach, web traffic, infographics, etc.
Inbound marketing is quickly proving itself to be more viable for this simple reason: the percent of return you’ll earn from driving a pre-qualified prospect to your business is much higher than that you earn by casting you advertising net far and wide.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Many restaurants are now using iPads or similar tablets to take customer orders. This speeds up the entire serving process because everyone (cooks, cashiers, managers, etc.) can easily have access to the same data. Orders are placed instantly, customers can pay right at the table, and waitresses don’t have to fuss with finicky POS equipment.
With all of the apps and programs out there, there’s surely something that can help you manage your business more efficiently.
Keep a Business Journal
This is especially handy if your business is seasonal in any respect at all—even simply increased sales during the holiday season. By creating a business journal and recording relevant data, thoughts, and ideas, you’ll have a ready-built skeleton of a plan to fall back on next year.
Think of Everything as a Project
Everything you do should be structured as a project. It should have a beginning, steps toward completion, and a finale. Even if whatever you’re doing is ongoing, it’s best to think of it, and track it, as a project rather than business as usual. It will help you stick to deadlines, build a plan for what comes next, and complete tasks without wasting unnecessary energy.
It’s not easy to hand something over to someone else—especially if you’ve got even an ounce of control freak in your blood. However, having two people working at the same time (even on the same task) can halve the actual time spent on said projects.
It’s a no-brainer: you can get twice as much done as quickly. The key is finding someone who is reliable and trustworthy enough to take on tasks without your direct supervision.
Take Advantage of Travel Time
With cloud computing and mobile technology solutions so readily available, it’s easier now than ever before to make effective use of your travel time. Rather than thinking of those long flights or train trips as wasted, turn that seat into a private, concentrated workspace—uninterrupted by the normal world.
Automate What You Can
Software solutions are available to help businesses automate almost anything nowadays. From billing and invoicing to networking and communications. If you can set it up to run without you, you should. Just don’t forget to take the time to learn whatever solution you’re using else you might wind up spinning your wheels.
Get It Done, and Move On
A lot of us are tempted to go back and constantly revise tasks we’ve already completed. That’s usually just wasted time. One rather famous commercial writer is often quoted as saying “sometimes good enough really is good enough.”
If you’ve completed a task, it’s time to move on. If something needs adjusting later on, you can come back to it, but it’s best to keep that momentum up.
Track Your Time
You’d be surprised how much time just slips between your fingers. Checking email, staring out the window, and chitchatting with the wait staff all eat up valuable minutes. Those minutes stretch into hours and before you know it the day is blown.
Snag a simple time tracker and keep an accurate—potentially brutally honest—record of how much time you spend doing what. A couple of days tracking your minutes and should have a good feel for where you can cinch up the belt in order to save those precious seconds.
Constantly looking for better and faster ways to do things is the best way you can ensure that you’re never wasting time. From software solutions like When I Work, to simple life hacks like laying out your clothes the night before, you have the power to become an efficient business machine if you’re always improving.
Whether you’re prone to laziness, procrastination, second-guessing yourself, or failing to pull the trigger on timely solutions, you are your own worst enemy when it comes to wasting time. We like to blame time crunches on outside forces (traffic, computer malfunctions, demanding clients) but really, with better planning, better tools, and a certain degree of self-exploration we can all save valuable time.15 Time-Saving Tips Retailers Should Implement Now Chad Halvorson