Many small businesses are regularly facing profit pressure coming from either a moving client base to other alternatives or simply price pressure on their products due to competition. This is not just small business but also larger business as well. I recently read an article in regards to BHP and how they have tackled the decrease in iron ore over the last few years.
BHP looked at their expenses and processes. This is not just a case of putting pressure on suppliers for more favourable pricing, but more looking at ways of doing things more efficiently. A prime example is the servicing costs of their fleet of monster 793 Cat dump trucks. Examples of the efficiencies made are monitoring of fuel use to extend engine life, reviewing changeover or replacement times on parts such as radiators, utilising jigs and alternate methods for wheel repairs, down to simply using higher capacity oil transfer pumps when performing an oil change. They also recognised the time taken to drive from the working pit to the maintenance shed for servicing, which are now performed in the pit by taking mobile maintenance to a designated area within the work pit. All these things combines has slashed the “pit stop” process from 12 hours to 2 hours.
What is of great interest is how they have come up with a lot of these efficiencies and thus time and cost saving ideas. They have implemented a system of engaging with everyone within the organisation to look at what they can do better, more efficiently or cheaper. In 2016 the 9000 workforce came up with 1860 idea, relating to cost saving, increasing throughput, and safety and culture.
What can smaller businesses learn from this? Simply look at everything you do and think can we be doing this better. It could simply be keeping photocopier paper next to the machine not in a store room, using paperless filing rather than paper based filing of all information, emailing rather than posting, using document templates and implement process manuals.
Not only may this be good for the employer, but it can also be good for the businesses overall culture. Getting buy in from your team makes those people feel engaged, valued and the fact that they see their own efficiency ideas being implement they have buy in to the process.
So tomorrow when you go to work start looking at everything you do and think, ‘Can I do this more efficiently or cheaper?’