When it comes to growing a business, there are a number of areas you need to manage and monitor closely. While most businesses watch their competitors, customers, and cash flow proactively, there is one area often forgotten until reached – capacity.
It’s a familiar story; a business owner focuses on sales to increase cash flow but has not thought about how or when they can deliver all of the new work sourced. As a result, the quality of products or services can be lower or the turnaround longer, affecting their reputation.
To ensure you don’t play the lead role in this tale, here are five tips to help you manage and increase your capacity.
1. Know how much work you can handle
The first step in working out your capacity is to know how much time it takes for you or your staff to produce and deliver the products or services you provide. Then you need to work out how much time you have designated to fulfilling customer work or orders in addition to all of the other operational tasks that keep your business running as usual each working day.
Also look at your current workload, are you servicing all of your clients successfully and meeting their expectations? What is your turnaround time like, are you meeting or stretching deadlines? Are you getting the feedback you normally do or want to? If your answer is no to any of these questions, or if you are already busy, stressed and not coping with the workload, chances are you are at or very close to your capacity.
2. Find ways to streamline
You still need to continue to bring in income so the first step is to look at how you can minimise the time spent in existing tasks. This starts by identifying ways you can streamline and systemise your processes and utilise your current team more effectively.
Also, look at how you can take on new business at your current capacity. It could be a matter of scheduling work a week or two in advance when your capacity has increased or giving a more realistic timeframe on turnaround and delivery to your customers.
3. Revisit your numbers
When you know your what your capacity is, it pays to revisit your numbers. If you are saying yes to work because you need the money, despite not having the time or ability to service expectations, then it could be time to overhaul your pricing and minimise your expenses.
While you may lose some price-focused customers by increasing your prices, you will at least have increased your income at the same capacity. This may also free up additional funds to increase your capacity by hiring more staff or outsourcing.
3. Build a flexible team
Staffing costs can be a massive expense to business owners, and for smaller businesses, a cost they can’t always afford to sustain. With this in mind, look at developing a flexible team that can help you increase capacity through busy times.
Having a trusted group of outsourced professionals on call when you need them, can help you meet your workload and increase your capacity when you need it, without ongoing staffing expenses.
4. Hire smartly
When it comes to hiring staff, give careful consideration to what positions you need to fill first and their roles. While you may need ‘doers’ to increase your capacity immediately, you will also need ‘business generators’ to cover your growing costs and fill your new capacity.
It’s at this point where you need to decide how big and fast you grow and continue to go back through the steps as you discover your new levels of capacity.