Periodically, we poll the industry for common questions, and provide educated answers. This was one of those questions.
Question: How do I scale to meet sales & production requirements?
Thanks for the updated info, and in reality, this is a great problem to have, at least compared to stale or stagnant sales.
Struggling with scaling along with sales growth is common, especially in this industry, and luckily there are some pretty quick ways to tackle it.
I usually take a dead simple 3 step approach:
- Understand ALL of your processes, even the minor ones
- Time everything
- Look for cheap ways to reduce time
For Step 1, I start looking at an average order. I go through and identify every single step.
I mean EVERY step, no matter how small. Even if it's just sending an email response. I log the task and how many times (per order) my team does those things. Customer communication, order entry, invoicing, and every single production and fulfillment step all go in.
If a person does it, I log it in Excel or a Google Sheet.
In Step 2, the stopwatch on my phone becomes my best friend. I literally, and do mean literally, time every single activity I logged, down to the second. I usually do this 2-3 times, then take the average.
Now I've got a list of everything that happens in an average order, and how many seconds per order those things take. Multiply each one of those by your average orders per month, and divide by 60.
That's your minutes spent per month on THAT task. I've made a quick Google Spreadsheet to show you what I'm talking about here:
For Step 3, I would sort the spreadsheet by Hours / Month, starting with the greatest. That's where you're spending the most time.
Then ask yourself... How can I reduce the amount of time that this particular task takes?
You'll be surprised at how fast you'll have simple ideas that can create a dramatic impact. Maybe it's a copy and paste email template. Maybe it's moving some equipment around.
And for the things that aren't so simple, I start relying on relationships. Ask someone you know how they solved it. Seek specific advice from distributors, other shop owners, or even me.
Hope that helps!
All the best!
PS - I can't help the shameless plug... our software at Take2 is specifically designed to help you save operational time & cut down on email & order entry time. Thought that might be relevant given the question =)
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