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3 Signs Your Company Is Prepared For Change

3 Signs Your Company Is Prepared For Change

After you’ve been running a business for a while you may reach that wonderful moment when you feel like you’re in a groove. Then, sometimes with little warning, the groove turns into a rut. Let’s say you’ve established a number of consistent processes that help you generate demand for your

After you’ve been running a business for a while you may reach that wonderful moment when you feel like you’re in a groove. Then, sometimes with little warning, the groove turns into a rut.

Let’s say you’ve established a number of consistent processes that help you generate demand for your products and services, and standard ways you handle everything from closing a deal to managing customer service issues. Everything is running like clockwork, and growth feels almost inevitable.

Of course, this kind of momentum rarely lasts forever. New competitors might emerge that require you to work a little harder to win new business and retain your current customers. All manner of external forces can influence customer behaviour and prompt you to evaluate the way you operate.

Some of the changes you may need to make are minor, such as how many people you need to schedule for a shift or the number of products you keep in stock. Others, however, could be more significant and might feel daunting at first.

A new social media platform could become popular, for instance, and much of your customer base begins to spend more of their time on it. You know your company should begin marketing there, but it represents a new investment in time and other resources.

In other cases it may be time to shift more of your sales from in-person transactions to e-commerce, but this might be an area where the technologies involved are confusingly complex.

Perhaps, after years of having everyone report in to the office, you recognize the need to support remote options for the team. What will that mean for productivity, collaboration and a sense of cohesion?

Even when you know these kinds of changes are necessary, there’s always the question of timing. Make a move too early and you might be trying to fix something that isn’t broken. You risk introducing unnecessary disruption to your company and your team in the process.

Waiting too long to make a change, of course, can be even worse. It can mean you’re left behind by the competition, or that your customer expectations won’t be fully met and you begin to see revenue plummet.

Check for these signs to determine your firm not only needs to change, but has gotten to a place where the change will prove successful:

1. The pilot project pans out

A lot of changes you make within a business can begin with small steps. This is true whether you’re talking about adopting new technology or making a process change.

There may be a new application that could allow you to get greater insight into what customers want, for example, but you’ve never managed customer data in quite that way before. A pilot project means you could try the application out using only a portion of your database. Maybe you run the application using 10 per cent of your customer records.

Based on the results of that experiment — which can run for any length of time you deem adequate to feel confident — you’ll know you’re ready to deploy the technology more fully.

2. The accidental or de facto change is already working

Businesses like to make deliberate changes that align to their strategy, but many shifts in how employees work, such as the tools they use, happen almost under the radar.

A manager might decide, for instance, that an employee who deals with a long commute will become even more frustrated while the highway near their home undergoes some construction. So they let that person work from home for a while.

Before long, the manager may notice the employee is not only getting more done, but is more engaged and fulfilled. This could help inform a larger move to a remote work policy based on the business need.

The proliferation of productivity and collaboration apps, meanwhile, means employees may take it upon themselves to start using a tool to improve the way the company performs in the same way. Even though they didn’t ask IT or their boss for permission, it may be clear, based on how you measure performance, that the tool is a good one.

Being a good SMB owner means noticing these accidents or de facto changes that are happening organically in the business. Then it’s a matter of making the change official and adding any other guidelines or rules to maximize the positive benefits.

3. Your KPIs are trying to tell you something

Numbers don’t lie. There are all kinds of metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) you can use to gauge the health of your business, and they serve a secondary purpose in helping you make the case for change.

Suppose you’re mulling a tool to assist you with troubleshooting or answering questions from more of your customers, or to help them more quickly and with greater ease. You might worry about the cost, the training required or what it will mean for day-to-day processes.

This is where you could check a KPI like customer satisfaction. Look at the feedback you’ve gotten via surveys or whatever mechanisms you use and see how it has changed over time. If customer satisfaction is in decline, it’s easier to justify adopting new technology to address it.

The same goes for areas like sales volumes. If you’re seeing a surge in customer demand and orders that the company struggles to fulfill, there may be changes to make in driving more customers to e-commerce or the way you manage your inventory.

Gross margin, profit margin, average customer spend — these KPIs could also help you prioritize the changes you need to make. In some cases it might mean hiring more people, or simply changing how you equip them to do their jobs. There might be self-service capabilities you can offer your customers. Or a policy that will reduce churn.

There’s an old adage that says change is the only constant, but the important thing for SMB owners is to constantly evaluate the changes they make. The better you’re able to read the signs, the more likely you’ll be moving in the right direction.

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