How healthy is your business? Take our test

Want to really know how healthy your business is? Just as a person needs to check their blood pressure, cholesterol and other essential functions, a business also needs to have its vital signs continually checked to understand whether its functioning at an optimum level. When you want to find out if something is wrong, you normally require some kind of test. The same goes for your business.

Here are 10 testing strategies to explore the health of your business:

1. Know your vital signs – they are unique to each business

Each business must identify its own vital signs. Metrics such as reputation, engagement, even the way staff communicate in meetings, can be critical measures of business health. It is crucial to understand the core currencies of your business.

“There is no value in a retailer thinking that the most important measure of a store is how many people come through the door, if they are coming in to check out the item, go home and buy it on eBay.” – Sean Spence, Director of Consultancy Sean Spence & Associates

2. Continually test, test, test your products and services

You need to be testing all the time and ironing things out. Think of your business as a ‘live site’ and never static. Try to put your business under some kind of scrutiny everyday. Pretend you’re a customer. See what they see when it comes to the products you use on-site or the service your tradesman are providing during and after the job.

3. Constantly test your staff

Staff can be measured on a range of indicators that suit your business. From revenue targets and personal performance to team morale. The key is having competent staff and systems to back them up. You need to make sure they work correctly and don’t go off track.

The biggest risk to a high-performing organisation is an underperforming resource, and allowing that resource to remain in place. You need to ensure you are finding the right hardworking staff. Importantly, getting rid of the underperforming ones before they cause an issue.

4. Add a bit of mystery

Perhaps on occasion you can test areas of your business when staff are unaware they’re being tested. Like the good old mystery shopper scenario. Call your phone number and test how you’re dealt with on the phone. Offer bonuses for glowing reports etc. On the other end, train for poor performance.

5. Testing is a hands-on process

There is no substitute for seeing something for yourself. It’s really the only way to properly highlight and eliminate potential issues. A random drop into a job site could uncover invaluable information.

6. Get addicted to feedback

Feedback from customers, staff, even from suppliers. It’s important to collect feedback on a regular basis, through feedback forms, online surveys, or even just a chat to your customer on the job site. It’s so important to know what customers are thinking about your business.

7. Apply stress tests

To take things to extremes, apply a series of worst-case tests to businesses.

For example:
A: Assume all existing customers switch to a competitor, starting tomorrow. What strategies will be used to manage the business going forward?
B: How will the business meet its obligations if the bank changes the rules and asks that all debt be repaid in five years or less?

It’s a great way to test what a company can or can’t do under pressure.

8. Keep the communication lines open

Make sure your business is effective at capturing complaints, as well as dealing with them. You might be thinking that you have really low negative feedback, when really; customers find it too difficult to actually deliver their complaints. Make sure the feedback lines are open like calling every customer within thirty minutes after your tradesman has left the job.

9. Align testing with your objectives

This disconnect between company objectives and the way staff see their roles in the business can be disastrous. If staff don’t understand the business objectives, how can they understand where the business wants to go? Test your staff on their knowledge of your company’s objectives, not just compliance.

10. Focus on the strengths and weaknesses

Yes, you need to test your strengths. You also need to test your weaknesses to ensure you can improve on them. If you had a child at school and they came back with two As, a B and a D, you would focus on improving the D. You wouldn’t focus on the A and try and make it a A+, which is quite often what happens in business. If you don’t fix your weaknesses, you wont have a business for long.

Give your business a health check up regularly. Along with a bit of routine maintenance, you won’t require a huge health overhaul in the long run.

What’s next?

  1. Join our Kick-Ass Tradies Facebook Group, for access to trade business specific conversations, tips and resources, plus a like-minded community of tradies.
  2. Book a 15-minute Game Plan Call with Andy, owner of Dr. DRiP plumbing and co-founder of Lifestyle Tradie, to clarify your priorities and get clear action steps.