Make More Profit by Paying Attention to the Detail


Make More Profit by Paying Attention to the Detail

Last year when I was about to head overseas, literally three hours before I was due to leave, I did one final check of the documentation for my trip.

I found that I had no accommodation booked for the first night when I had an overnight stop due to poor flight connections. Luckily, there was plenty of time to snag a last minute booking at an airport hotel. Now the responsibility for all the bookings for the trip fell with me, as the person in the house who is the most detail oriented, and yet I stuffed up.

In business, we don’t always have the luxury of being able to fix those little mistakes we make, the omissions, the not quite perfect result before our client or customer sees it.

My fellow Smallville contributor, Bronwyn Reid, has written about the one percenters; making the one per cent differences is similar to paying attention to the details.

I was recently talking to an accounting friend about what she does and how she works with her clients, and I was excited to hear about how she is in regular contact with her clients. She talked about phoning up her clients to let them know that a tax bill was on its way to them, or to tell them about their trading results and potential tax liability each step of the way.

She referred to providing value, in the way she provided information when she prepared quarterly Business Activity Statements (BAS) returns and not just simply saying to her clients, “Here’s the BAS and you have ‘$x’ amount to pay.”

The accounting industry is known for poor service, phone calls that never get returned, emails that are ignored and generally poor communication. It’s not difficult then to stand out from the crowd and do a better job.

The big question, I believe, is:

“What is the cause of this and how can you change what you’re doing to improve?”

I believe that the cause stems from a couple of issues:

Cause #1.

Most businesses are under-staffed, and the owners are working excessive hours doing more and more to make money without having to pay employees. They are stressed, worried and exhausted and lack the focus necessary to provide top quality service.

Cause #2.

Having the wrong people doing the job. This can arise where you have a big picture person being forced to do detailed work. These people don’t enjoy paying attention to detail and will gloss over wherever they can. The results being sub-standard. It’s not their fault; it’s just that they’re doing the wrong type of work.

Cause #3.

The ‘that’ll do’ philosophy which prevails when deadlines are tight, and in situations where the owner no longer takes pride in their business, allowing the quality to falter. The clients or customers know that they’re not getting top quality service and either will accept that if the pricing is right or find an alternative supplier.

So, if you think that perhaps you could improve the attention to the detail in your business, what can you do?

  • Acknowledge that there is room for improvement.

Then share that with your team. Talk to them about your original vision for the business and how you’ve all slipped and allowed errors and omissions to creep into the way you do what you do. Make sure that you tell them it’s not their fault and that you take full responsibility as the owner of the business. And then ask them to support you to help make improvements.

  • Involve the team in the process of improving.

Ask them for suggestions or ideas, ask them what they think needs to be worked on first and week by week make the changes until you have the business that you can be proud of again. It may mean some changes to the team; it may mean changes to the work that you do as the owner. Allowing your team members, who may be better suited to some of the tasks, to take them on, allows you to do what you do best in the business.

It’s by paying attention to detail that you will improve your client or customer loyalty.

You will get more referrals and more business as people hear about how good your business is. It will also improve profits as you will be able to increase your prices due to the additional value that you offer; value that is sought after by your clients.

So, take those few extra minutes and do a thorough check, make sure that your service levels are where you want them to be and you not only won’t end up without a bed for the night as I almost did, but you will see improvements in the profit of your business.

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