Stein on... Making the most of your assets

A bit of crystal ball-gazing seems to suggest that next year could be one of many challenges.

I am sure we are all aware of the macro factors that will affect our businesses. It's safe to say that everyone who owns a business will need to embrace change in one way or another.

But why change? Simply because, along with economics, consumers are changing - and their expectations are very different from five years ago. Your customers next year will be demanding quality goods, delivered when they want, with continuing cost reductions into the bargain. They will also want greater choice and top customer service. All this you will have to deliver while still controlling costs and overheads

Change for the sake of change is nonsensical and expensive. Some businesses in other sectors have thrown money at rebranding, appointing new staff and purchasing equipment. The irony is that there was a lot of potential in what they already had. We need to be aware of this "passive waste". We rarely get the most out of vehicles and equipment and procedures could be vastly improved.

We also consistently neglect one of our most valuable assets, employees, whose efficiency and productivity is there to be tapped. Faced with the need to change, employees are resourceful, adaptable and given a chance can perform great things with existing resources. By releasing your staff's energy and creativity you will be able to meet customers' increasing demands more effectively.

You must become a leader rather than just a manager. Leaders not only set the direction of a business but also motivate, appreciate, respect and educate employees. Staff will respond by offering new ideas and improvements in every aspect of the business - in other words, they will cut out waste.

Removing waste and getting the maximum out of all resources is the first response we should make when faced with the need to change. Growing sales and satisfying customers will be much easier when the powerhouse of the business is lean and fit.

Neville Stein is owner of Ovation Business & Consultancy

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