Thinking Thursday – Little Changes Can Mean Big Profits
Often times in the business world we want to hit the home run. Heck at every company I worked at there were awards for hitting “home runs!” But what about all the base hits and sacrifice fly balls? I’m not trying to confuse the business world with baseball but the fact is companies reward big wins. The question is that how effective are all the small wins? Can it really add up to big profits at the end of the day?
The question about profit is a common question that I get when I talk to small and medium size businesses. They say “I’m too small for those type of changes to matter” and I tell them absolutely not. I work with a veterinary clinic which has 6 people on staff plus 1 doctor and they have seen tremendous improvements on their bottom line with just daily practices that are easy and simple to implement.
1) Marketing is a daily process – The receptionist have a daily call list to schedule appointments and remind patients of upcoming visits. Facebook is updated daily so they have a sense of community forming in their local area. They also reply back to emails and voice mails first thing in the morning. There are monthly or weekly calls to big clients like the city to maintain relationships.
2) Mistakes are reduced with standard work – Mistakes on the check in process were reduced over time and continue to reduce. They started at 4 hours a rework down to 3 hours, to 2.5, and currently the average amount of rework is down to 30 minutes over the course of 2 months. They are continuously training and implementing check sheets which seem slower at first but save time in the end and it actually trains them as they go.
3) Product sales are practiced and standardized – Depending on the pet that comes in the customer will be offered certain products available for sale. The information that is communicated to the client is practiced and tested for accuracy.
4) Customers are made aware of the location – In a veterinary clinic one of the factors a client will look for is the proximity of the clinic to his/her house. We will put a waver dressed in a dog or cat costume on Saturday’s to make people aware the clinic is open and available to serve their needs. The clinic is currently evaluating opening on Sunday to serve the clients better. Currently there are no clinics in the area that are open on the weekend.
5) Employees are in charge of making their work area better – Each person is in charge of making their work area better so they are constantly making daily improvements. One example was that bath times went from 1 hour per dog down to less than 25 minutes per dog.
The clinic was projected to grow at a rate of 10-12% based on the growth rate for the local market. The clinic is currently grown 23% and is tracking to grow 30-40% year over year with the same staff just with these simple changes already in place. These changes were all low cost or free and only take minimal time out of the day.
How do you improve daily?