Whether you are a new company or a veteran business in a mature market, there are always ways to improve operational efficiencies. By fine tuning processes, you can help the business run more smoothly whilst reducing costs and so conserve cash at hand. By achieving a holistic view of the business, working to drive down costs, fine tuning tax and compliance activities and selling more to your existing customers, you can both maintain a loyal customer base and explore new revenue generating opportunities.
Here are six techniques that all companies can use to conserve cash, preserve margins and make operations more efficient.
1. Get a complete view of the business
To ensure that you’re setting the right business goals, you need to know where the business is right now, with up-to-date data presented in a format that represents the here and now, as well as updating in real-time as the situation changes. That way, decision makers in the business always have the latest, most accurate view of the business.
That data should encompass much more than just sales and accounting – by having data on all events, activities and outcomes across every department, you’ll be able to identify success and failures, upturns and downturns and patterns that allow you to fix the problems and expand the areas of success.
2. Sell more to your existing customers
Everyone appreciates that acquiring a new customer is much more difficult – and costly – than retaining an existing one, so it follows that selling more to your existing customers is easier than selling to new ones.
Whether you are operating in the business-to-business or business-to-consumer sector, you should be aiming to up-sell, and cross-sell your existing products and services. Customer service goes hand-in-hand with this too, and so you should be aiming to delight your existing customers at every opportunity, giving them no cause to seek an alternative supplier, after all if the experience is this great – why change?
3. Connect your business systems
Companies of every size use business systems that help them to manage costs through automation and data-driven decision making. However, when a company uses a number of disparate systems that each address a different issue, it can be hard to get a holistic view of all your operations. Multiple solutions lead to disconnected functional systems. This results in data that only relates to individual processes and that doesn’t consider the implications of other connected – but disparate - systems within the business. When your business systems are all located within individual silos, you have to connect the dots, rather than them being connected for you – which is prone to inaccuracies.
Disjointed software environments create headaches that range from workflow bottlenecks to employee productivity issues to customer service breakdowns and more. It’s a common problem for smaller businesses that can lack the IT resources to integrate multiple systems. This is compounded as IT teams waste an inordinate amount of time and money integrating, maintaining and acquiring new versions of these applications.
An integrated platform helps connect the data dots and avoid these issues. These platforms are catalysts for efficiency because they improve employee productivity, often by reducing the need for complex and costly integrations or manual reconciliation processes. They provide visibility across the business, allowing sales, marketing, human resources and accounting departments to ‘sing from the same hymn sheet’ - using a single set of data.
4. Exploit new markets and revenue streams
As markets change, so to do customer needs. If you haven’t examined your products for some time, now is the time to re-evaluate their profitability and to determine if the mix is right. Exploring new markets for your existing products will also help you diversify your revenue streams.
You can also increase your company’s exposure to new customers by exploiting more offline, online, direct and wholesale channels, or even working with sales channel partners that can diversify revenue quickly, without adding headcount in your own team.
An indirect sales channel can identify new use cases that your own sales team might not even know exist. Channel partners, with their wide reach and deep customer relationships, also help open new markets while enhancing client loyalty in an era where the nearest competitor is just a click away.
Key to any multi-channel strategy is to use unified tools that deliver a consistent customer experience at each stage of the buying journey, no matter how the customer is interacting with your company. As customers move from one channel to the next, product offerings, pricing, brand messaging, customer support and fulfilment should “feel” the same.
When companies treat channels as a sum total versus distinct operating units that could compete with one another, customers get what they want from the channel that’s most convenient to them. This, in turn, ensures a predictable, consistent experience and ultimately leads to customer loyalty.
5. Expand internationally
Expanding into new territories abroad can extend the sales life of existing products, diversify revenue and reduce dependency on the domestic market due to seasonal changes and demand cycles that differ from country to country. And new products that don’t appeal domestically may well find a large and enthusiastic market abroad.
Expanding globally takes time, effort and the right approach for each country. By switching to a unified global ERP system, your company can maintain, and even increase, revenue—both domestically and abroad—with much of the regional complexity such as taxes, regulations and currency conversions automated into the system, saving time, resources and money. The key is to start planning for international expansion sooner rather than later and to implement the technology that will scale with your business as opportunities emerge.
6. Fine-tune your tax and regulatory compliance
HR and payroll are employee-centric activities, but these departments can save money by protecting against losses from fines, fees and penalties as a result of non-compliance.
The challenge is that the tax and regulatory environment is constantly in flux, with new rules and regulations being passed into law every year, which is especially pertinent as the UK continues to adapt to the changes that Brexit has brought about.
Along with the fines, fees and penalties associated with non-compliance, there’s also the time and labour involved with redoing paperwork, correcting errors and filling out additional forms, especially when financial, HR and legal expertise is in high demand.
Using technology, companies can streamline tedious financial and HR tasks and ensure better overall compliance. What’s more, cloud-based software that is updated automatically can stay on top of tax and regulatory changes, sparing businesses the hassle and expense of updating their own systems and processes.
Now is the time to invest in NetSuite ERP
As we continue to emerge from the effects of the pandemic, business still needs to keep a tight control on cash flow and prioritise it ahead of profits, as a hedge against ongoing economic uncertainty, despite signs that the economy is going to grow.
Implementing an ERP system can provide the visibility you need and lays the groundwork for, or directly provides, the benefits outlined above. If your company isn’t already getting the operational efficiencies and business insights provided by an ERP system, now is the time to consider the switch to a modern, cloud-based business management suite, such as NetSuite.
To find out more about NetSuite ERP and request a free demonstration of its capabilities, call us on 01785 336 253 or complete our contact form.