The secret to managing a production business successfully is keeping things simple and being clear in your communication with your team, whether they’re part-time freelancers or full-time employees. Here are 10 tips on how to manage a production business successfully so you can improve profitability, save time, and reduce stress in your workday.
1) Get organized in your production business
How do you manage production or manufacturing processes? is one of those questions that has more than one right answer. The most effective manufacturing businesses are able to maintain a clear workflow and clearly defined goals, and many of them attribute their success—at least in part-to getting organized. Before you begin anything else, make sure you have an organized system in place for doing what needs to be done. Keep a checklist handy so you can review it regularly and keep track of your progress. If your production business involves multiple people or departments, establish standards for communication and work flow from day one. Having everyone on board with your plan will help keep things running smoothly from start to finish. And when something goes wrong, use it as an opportunity to learn how to improve your business practices next time around.
How long does production take? How much should I charge per unit? These are just two of many important questions you’ll need answers to before launching a new product. Take some time at the beginning of each project to put together a game plan and write down some basic answers so you don’t forget any important details later on. You might not have all of your bases covered, but taking even preliminary steps will help keep you organized and that’s an important part of managing a successful manufacturing or production business.
2) Hire people who are more talented than you
If you’re starting or running a production business, it helps to employ people who are better at certain things than you. Of course, it can be hard to admit that someone else is better at something than you—especially when everyone is watching—but it will save you time and energy in getting your production process off the ground. If you hire employees who are smarter and more experienced than you, they will know how to get things done faster and with fewer mistakes. In addition, hiring talented people allows you to focus on what matters most: growing your business. When you start out, try focusing on finding one great employee for each of these positions: office manager, production manager, customer service representative and graphic designer. After you’ve hired some solid talent, consider building a team of freelancers to fill other roles as needed. It’s not uncommon for an entrepreneur to take on multiple roles within their own company. However, if you want to grow your business into something bigger, eventually you may need to delegate responsibilities so that others can work independently. Delegating tasks is also an important way to make sure your small team doesn’t become too dependent on any one person.
3) Watch your production business cash flow
Cash flow can sink even the most profitable production business. If you are not paying attention, you might have trouble paying your bills on time or keeping your inventory up-to-date. To prevent cash flow problems and get ahead of production, make sure that your profit margins are sufficient and that you know where your money is going. Implement these tips for better cash flow management.
The first tip involves tracking your income and expenses. You should have an accurate budget in place so that you don’t overspend during busy periods – which could leave you short on cash when things slow down again.
The second tip is to make sure that your suppliers are reliable, as you don’t want any surprises from them or delays in receiving materials for production.
The third tip is to keep track of inventory levels, especially if you produce seasonal products. This will help ensure that you have enough stock available when it comes time for peak sales seasons, while also helping prevent excess inventory from building up at other times of year.
The fourth tip involves making sure that your production schedule is realistic and well-planned. If you’re not careful, you could end up with more orders than your team can handle – which could lead to costly mistakes or delays in delivery.
The fifth tip involves setting realistic goals and expectations for yourself and your team members. If you have too many orders coming in, you might find that you’re not able to meet customer demands on time—which could lead to unhappy customers and lost business.
The sixth tip is about keeping an eye on trends in your industry so that you can anticipate changes in demand. If you keep up with trends, it will be easier for you to plan ahead, which will help prevent cash flow problems down the road.
The seventh tip is about outsourcing certain production tasks when necessary.
4) Stay on top of technology in production business
Technology is always changing, so it’s important that you stay on top of new developments. New technology can help you improve your production business processes and save money. For example, if you use traditional spreadsheets for tracking inventory, you might consider using more sophisticated (and more expensive) software. The investment could pay off because it would allow you to track multiple locations simultaneously, give real-time updates on inventory levels and free up time that might otherwise be spent manually updating spreadsheets or entering information into a computer system. However, before making any major technological changes in your production business, it’s wise to talk with colleagues who have already made similar changes. Find out what worked well for them and what didn’t work as well as they had hoped. Ask about how long it took to implement these changes and how much money was involved. This will help you make better decisions about which technologies are right for your company.
5) Handle your own paperwork
Create an environment in which your employees are not paper-jockeys and paperwork is not their responsibility. Hire someone to handle your paperwork for you, even if that means outsourcing some of it. This will allow your production business people more time to focus on tasks at hand rather than being tied up with meaningless paper filing. After all, how do you manage manufacturing or production processes without involving proper documentation? Proper documentation is key! It’s important to ensure everyone who works in your company has everything they need to know about what they are doing, how they are doing it, and why they are doing it. How else can you effectively monitor productivity? And how can you get things done properly when no one knows what they’re supposed to be doing? That’s just asking for trouble. If you don’t have any idea how to go about managing a production business successfully.
6) Have great marketing material
Having great marketing material is an absolute necessity if you’re running a successful manufacturing or production business. These 10 tips can help you get there. The first step to successful marketing is knowing your audience. If you don’t know who will buy your product, how can you effectively sell it? Before doing anything else, figure out who will be buying your product and what they need from it – then design your sales and marketing strategy around that information. Once you have a target customer in mind, think about how you will reach them. This may include advertising through social media or traditional methods like print ads or billboards. How are you going to get people interested in your product? What do they need to hear about it before making their decision? What kind of messaging will motivate them to purchase your product over someone else’s? Next, consider what makes your product special compared with others on the market.
7) Set clear pricing and payment terms up front
Because most manufacturing or production processes are time-intensive, it’s especially important to set clear pricing and payment terms up front. Customers who don’t meet deadlines can have serious repercussions on your production business: not only do they add extra time onto an already lengthy process, but they also run you the risk of missing out on future business opportunities if word gets around that you can’t be trusted. If customers need to pay in installments, make sure they know exactly when each installment is due – and what happens if they miss their deadline. For example, will you stop working until they pay? Will you charge them late fees? These answers may seem obvious at first glance, but it’s better to spell everything out clearly so there are no surprises down the road.
8) Deal with clients who have unrealistic expectations by handing off projects (referrals may be hard to get after this!)
Referring projects back is one of the best tools you have in your arsenal. If you are trying to grow your production business but can’t handle some of your clients, refer them elsewhere. Don’t do it in an apologetic way; just be honest that you don’t have time for their work and point them in another direction. You will likely lose out on referrals from that client, but it will make working with that client difficult and may even teach them how to behave better. Plus, if they become upset or angry about not getting referred by you, they are probably not a good fit for your business anyway. They won’t tell others about how great you are as a designer if they know others who can get things done faster than you!
Hire someone who has had success managing production businesses: It’s easy to think anyone can manage any type of company – and sometimes that works out well – but when it comes to managing production companies, there are special skills needed.
9) Follow up in the right way in your production business
One major challenge for production business owners is how to follow up with clients in an effective way. Making sure that you are connecting regularly with your customers is important, but it can be hard to know when and how often you should do so.
Here are 10 tips for getting those follow ups done successfully in your production business
1. Have a consistent schedule. If possible, set aside one day each week (or month) for following up with customers, and stick to it no matter what.
2. Keep things short and sweet. A simple How’s everything going? or Are there any issues we need to address? will suffice for most situations.
3. Ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer. It may seem like common sense, but asking questions that prompt longer responses will help you get better information about your customer’s experience with your company and avoid awkward silences on either end of the conversation!
4. Be friendly and personable. Remember that even though you don’t have face-to-face contact with your customers, they still want to feel like they’re dealing with a human being who cares about their needs.
5. Make notes after every call or email exchange. This might sound tedious, but it’ll make it easier to keep track of what’s been discussed during future conversations.
6. Don’t forget nonverbal cues! Even if you aren’t able to see your customer, it’s important to remember that he or she isn’t just listening he or she is also watching. Body language can say a lot about how much interest you’re showing in what your client has to say.
7. Find out if there are any special events coming up. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays these are all opportunities for thoughtful gestures from businesses looking to show their appreciation for their customers’ loyalty.
8. Send something as soon as possible. Whether it’s a thank-you note, gift card, or other token of appreciation, sending something within 24 hours of receiving positive feedback from a customer will show that you value his or her opinion.
9. Always respond quickly to emails and phone calls. No matter how busy you are, it’s crucial to always respond promptly whenever someone reaches out to you about your business whether it’s via email or over the phone. If you fail to do so, you risk losing potential customers simply because they were put off by your unresponsiveness.
10. Follow up with past clients at least once per year. As long as it’s not too intrusive, reaching out to past customers is a great way to stay top-of-mind and strengthen relationships with people who already trust your brand enough to buy from you in the first place. Of course, your customers are only half of your equation if you’re managing a production business, you’ll also need to focus on making sure that your employees are keeping up with best practices.
10) Create job descriptions for every position you hire, even if it’s temporary
If you are starting with just one or two employees in your production business, you may be tempted to overlook job descriptions. Don’t. Crafting detailed job descriptions can help ensure that you hire candidates who will succeed in their positions, while also giving all your employees a sense of how they contribute to overall business goals. In addition, if you expect employees to create their own job descriptions as part of their work duties, crafting company wide definitions helps reduce confusion over what is expected and what isn’t. For example, if everyone knows that quality assurance means checking every item off an assembly line for flaws before it moves on to packaging, you’ll avoid costly mistakes later on. Defining these expectations early on gives new hires an idea of how much autonomy they have at each stage of production. It also lets them know what’s expected from them so they don’t waste time wondering whether they’re doing things right. Creating clear job descriptions ensures that everyone involved in a project understands exactly what his or her role is, without having to ask repeatedly for clarification. Having clear roles and responsibilities makes projects run more smoothly and saves you time and money by eliminating redundancy and reducing mistakes due to miscommunication. You’ll also find that creating job descriptions allows you to develop strategies for developing employees’ skills and careers, which in turn leads to happier workers. And happy workers are more productive workers! Once you’ve created solid job descriptions, keep them up-to-date when someone changes jobs or leaves your company. This keeps everyone aware of current responsibilities and prevents any overlap between departments in your production business.