One of the things that really helps your business run smoothly is our systems. A system is simply the process you use to complete a particular task or series of tasks. Effective systems help you to do regular tasks more consistently and efficiently. Having defined systems also makes it easier to delegate tasks to family or helpers.
The most important system in your business is the system for establishing and improving systems. Any time you feel that a task takes up too much of your time, or that there is too much potential for mistakes it's time to evaluate that system and make changes. Productivity improvement is a crucial step to increasing profitability and reducing stress in your business.
One well known example of evaluating and improving a system is UPS and their system of routing trucks so that the majority of their turns are right turns. UPS looked at the way their trucks were routed and found that a lot of time (and fuel) was wasted waiting to make left turns. By implementing new routing software that chose right turns wherever possible (about 90% of turns) they were able to save fuel, lessen their fleet's impact on the environment and allow their drivers to spend more time delivering packages and less time waiting in traffic.
You can make these same types of changes in your own business. Start by observing the process you want to improve. Make notes about every step of the process looking for areas where you feel you could save time, or increase accuracy. If the change that needs to be made is obvious then implement the change. If a better way does not jump out at you, reach out for help. Great sources for ideas on how to improve your productivity in a particular area are other Avon Representatives, Other Direct Sales Representatives or small business owners or an Internet search for general productivity tips that can be applied to your specific situation.
Some general components to a good system are:
Have everything you need easily accessible
Perform tasks in the same manner each time using a checklist or step by step guide - this is especially helpful when delegating the task to a helper.
Use templates for things to be typed, written or entered repeatedly.
Compete tasks or steps in batches as much as possible versus scattered individual tasks. For example entering orders once a day instead of throughout the day.
Kaizen is a philosophy, used by many large corporations including Toyota and Caesars Entertainment, based on the idea of continuous improvement. They use it to establish systems that maximize productivity and profitability. You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaizen#Implementation
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