Make repetition your friend instead of your enemy

REPETITION IS THE ENEMY OF EFFICIENCY

My engineering background continually drives me to pursue efficiency and eliminate manual repetition. How can we do more with less? What leverage can we apply to improve the way we operate? What tools can we use to minimise our time and maximise our output?

As business owners, it is so important for us to constantly be on the lookout for opportunities for improvement. This includes how we market our business, how we operate our business and how we do our work. And also, how we deliver our product or service to our customers.

Having people doing repetitive tasks manually on a regular basis holds us back. It prevents us from being all we can be in our business and stops us from reaching our full potential. I believe we have a responsibility to optimise our business in a way that serves us, so that we don’t become a slave to it.

Repetition is the enemy of efficiency, if done manually. However, if done automatically with an effective and consistent system, repetition can be your friend. It can be a great driver of efficiency in your business.

CASE STUDY – AUTOMATED APPOINTMENT REMINDERS

I’ve got some issues with my back that I keep under control by visiting an osteopath once a month. For the past 15 years, so maybe 200 times, I’ve made my appointment with the friendly and patient receptionist. She has filled out every appointment in a thick paper diary with a pencil (not a pen, so it could be rubbed out when the inevitable changes happen). On top of this, the practice policy was to personally ring up every client a day or two before their appointment and remind them of the date and time. They managed about seven different osteopaths and hundreds of clients in this way. This includes various appointment changes and last minute cancellations. It always struck me as being a tedious, cumbersome and repetitive way of handling the core function of that business – getting clients in the door for treatment.

So, imagine my surprise one day when I received an automated text message from the osteopath clinic! It informed me of my upcoming appointment time with no input required from the receptionist.

I dutifully arrived for my appointment at the designated time, curious to find out about the new system and discovered¬†it was called Cliniko. I checked it out and discovered it is practice management software specially designed for healthcare practitioners. Apparently, it also integrates with Xero accounting software and performs a range of other functions. In my few minutes of research, I discovered there is a wide range of practice management applications. They include appointment reminder systems like Appointmentreminder that even work with scheduling applications like Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar, meaning you don’t even need to adopt a whole new scheduling system.

SO, WHAT ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?

Now I know we’re not all osteopaths or health professionals, so the example above may not necessarily be directly applicable to your business. However, the principle of looking for automation opportunities certainly applies across the board. There are tremendous benefits available to you if you can take some time out from doing the work. Put on your “efficiency goggles” and cast a critical eye over the work flow of your business right through from the very first step of lead generation all the way through to sending out the final invoice.

In my experience, a very effective way to produce great results is to ask yourself some key questions, which on this topic might include:

  1. If I wasn’t here to run things, what’s the best way someone else could do this particular task?
  2. What are the key tasks or activities in each step of my business?
  3. What tasks do we do on a regular basis?
  4. How can we standardise our regular tasks to achieve consistency?
  5. Once standardised, how can we automate these tasks with less human intervention?
  6. Why reinvent the wheel? What other businesses are out there in my field who do things in a similar way to me and how do they do it?
  7. Which tools are available that have already been created that we could use if we adapted the way we do things to suit that system?
  8. What would freedom from boring, repetitive tasks look like for me in my business?
  9. If we saved even a little bit of time on a task that is done many times, how much would this save me?
  10. If we used a system to automatically do things, what higher value tasks could my staff spend their time doing?

MAKE REPETITION YOUR FRIEND INSTEAD OF YOUR ENEMY

I encourage you to embrace repetition, to make it your friend instead of your enemy. The payoff might be small initially, but as you get the hang of it, the opportunities for improvement will grow. Then one day you’ll wake up and realise you’re got a truly optimised business that runs like a well-oiled machine – what could be better than that?