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No Pain – No Gain

Author: Larry Chester, President

This is a frequently heard refrain when you’re talking about working out at a gym, but it applies to business as well.  The issue is that it’s always easy going when you’re dealing with what’s comfortable.  The employee that’s been working for you for 20 years in the same job.  The supplier that has been delivering the same items to you over the past 15 years.  The customer that does repeat purchases on a monthly basis.  The procedure that you’ve used to move paperwork from the warehouse dock to the front office for the last 10 years.  There is comfort in knowing what is tried and true.

And if you do the same thing from one year to the next, you will get the same results.  Now, to be honest, in these turbulent times getting the same results can be a relief to any business owner.  But I don’t know a single business owner that aspires to get the same results that he got last year.  Everyone wants to do better.  So how do you get there?  You make changes, you shake up the organization, you introduce new products, you market to your customers differently.  Here are 4 ideas that you can use to help shake up your organization.

  • Change Employees – No, I’m not recommending that you fire all your employees and hire new ones.  Think about this, though.  Every employee at your company might aspire to a job that is different than the one that they’re currently holding.  You have the opportunity to make a change in your staffing that may unearth some unrecognized talent.  By providing the opportunity for someone to be trained in a new job, you will likely get greater employee engagement, provide all of your employees with future opportunities that will get you greater loyalty.  Certainly, you will benefit from greater loyalty from the person that you give the opportunity to.  The pain is having an employee that will likely need more on the job training than an outside hire, but your gain is in commitment and engagement.  You can’t hire that at any price.
  • Rotate Jobs Within a Department.  There is an immediate benefit here, in that you will have staff trained in other positions, so that if someone goes on vacation or leaves the company, you will have someone completely trained, ready to take over.  No longer will someone say “you’ll have to wait till Pat comes back from vacation.”  Your company will be more agile and more efficient.  And who knows, you might find that someone is more efficient in a new role than they were in their old one.
  • Change Operations – You’ve been doing things the same way for the past 10 years.  Where finished goods are stored, how the product is manufactured or serviced, where component parts are kept.  Sometimes a fresh look will change things and make them more efficient.  As an example, typical warehouses have all the inventory of an individual product stored in a single location.  Some years ago, Amazon started putting items in their warehouses in the nearest open bin, not an assigned stocking location.  That’s contrary to common warehouse practices.  Order pickers are normally sent to stock locations by the computer system.  Orders are made up of random items, so there is no logic to what the next item will be, or where it will be located.  As a result, any location is fine.  Rather than having an item’s location searched for twice – once to put it away with all the others, and once to be picked for a customer order, they are only searched for when being picked.
  • Outsourced Services – There was a time when companies were self-contained.  Every department the company needed was located in the same building staffed by people who were on the same payroll as everyone else.  But this can be really inefficient.  Not every department is busy 40 hours a week.  Not every employee is totally skilled in their craft.  Not every employee is an “A” player.  By deciding to hire certain services on the outside, you may find that you can hire people that are stronger, or more creative than what you can afford to have on staff.  And, if you become dissatisfied with their work, and they don’t improve, you can change service providers without any of the issues that can arise when you terminate an employee.  It’s not necessary to eliminate an entire department, but it may be worthwhile to hire on the outside some specific skillsets that you don’t have in-house.  One way to start is when you lose an employee, either through termination or attrition.  Take the opportunity to not replace that person, and decide instead to hire those services externally.  You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Change is inevitable.  But it’s also scary.  You’ve worked hard to build your company, and every Entrepreneur knows that success is fragile.  So making changes challenges the conventional wisdom.  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  But the greatest successes come from disruption.  The fear that it won’t work keeps many great ideas on the sidelines.  But a change doesn’t need to be made universally.  You can make small changes as stepping stones to test out a new idea.  If it works, then you win and can implement company-wide.  If it doesn’t, try a different idea.  The small pain that you feel today may result in a change that will reap huge gains.  You don’t know till you try.

Make Changes Today That Affect Profitability Tomorrow.®

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