The Brexit vote has created business uncertainty, and it is likely that leaving the UK will generate difficult trading conditions for some time. It is important, therefore, that businesses do everything they can to ensure they are as ready as can be for increasing pressure on prices, and more intense competition for business.
Here are two straightforward activities you can undertake to begin to get ready for more difficult times:
1)Speak to your customers and speak to your employees. Find out what it is about your company that works well for customers, and, importantly, what they don’t like. Build up a clear list of the problems, issues, and annoyances that your business causes for customers, and put together an employee team to tackle them. These annoyances may be poor delivery performance; delays in despatching orders; unnecessarily complicated ordering processes; and so on. Resolve those issues now, before you start losing business to competitors. Make your business easier to deal with; more reliable; and more helpful than your competitors and you’ll start winning trade off them and, therefore, minimise the impact of Brexit
2)Put together a team of 6 to 10 employees and ask them to map out your key business processes. This can be done at a fairly high level using sticky notes – it doesn’t have to be a highly technical activity. The key is to identify the delays, hold-ups, backtracking, re-input of information, and rework that each process contains. Once you have identified the unhelpful and inefficient twists and turns in the process, the team should work with everyone in the business to eliminate those problems. For each process this activity might take 3 or 4 months with the team meeting fortnightly for half a day. It will more than pay for itself in efficiency savings; will get employees more motivated in working to improve the business; and will eliminate process problems which may drive your customers into the arms of competitors.
Both of these activities are easy to get started and neither is costly. They will have the added benefit of raising employee morale by encouraging them to make improvements to their working life. Most importantly they will increase the attractiveness of your business to your customers and greatly reduce the risk that customers will move to competitors when trading conditions get tighter. The efficiencies generated will give you more leeway on price, and the improved service you offer to customers may help you justify a premium over competitors.
Get to work now so that you are in a strong position when Brexit begins to bite!