Date: 6 May 2021
Hyperbolic statements about the pandemic are all over the media. We’ve all seen examples and can probably recite some in our sleep. Are statements like these true? I don’t know, but the possibility does seem likely that business as we know it has changed. What we do know from published statistics is how hard small businesses have been hit by the effects of lockdowns, remote working/learning, etc.
Commercial glass, window, and door professionals and companies are not immune to these effects. As an industry we’ve worked hard together and separately to adapt to the changing landscape. We will continue to change and thus adapt. Through continuous adaptation, we will meet evolving demands of our customers, which changes and moves our industry forward.
One way change is happening in our industry is through the utilization of new technologies, including software. Depending on a company’s role in the flat glass, window, or door industry, the adaptation could range from social distancing measures to upskilling employees to meet the labor shortage to installing new software, machines, or machine interfaces. All of this sounds disruptive or even risky, but “business as usual” doesn’t cut it these days as Joe Erb reminds us in his “Time to Adopt New Technology” article from Glass Magazine April 2020.
As I work for a software development company, I want to take a look at the impact software has on a business. Software is one avenue to addressing the labor shortage, automating existing processes, retaining employees, increasing yield and revenue, and much more.
The word “software” can be scary for any business, large or small. Every business is unique, but can still utilize off-the-shelf solutions that are slightly tailored to your company’s needs. This allows upgrades to happen seamlessly, for example.
So, where do you start? In talking to experts in the industry, they recommend starting with one aspect of your business and branching out from there after a successful implementation process. Where you start is up to you. Here is a list of parts of your business you could automate.
Aspects to Consider Automating:
- E-commerce – generate repeat business, make the buying process seamless, and show images of your products for easy understanding by customers
- Inventory – integrate with your supplier’s system or your e-commerce software to make purchasing by customers seamless
- Production –connect several machines with optimization software to improve yield and revenue
- Leads – automatic email responses, online discussions via Chatbots, assigning leads to sales, returning or answering phone calls, follow-up, and capture
- Sales – ensure no one gets lost along the way by focusing on the hottest leads and staying engaged/nurturing
- Customer Service – meet or exceed your customer’s expectations by making it easier for them to ask for help, send appointment reminders, gauge satisfaction, ask for referrals, gain social media followers, and monitor data
- Office Management – improve repetitive routines and send/receive important documents
When you automate one or more aspects of your business, you should reap the benefits of said automation. Below you’ll find a list of potential benefits.
Benefits of Automation for Your Small Business:
- Adapt to market demand
- Reduce labor costs
- Optimize workforce allocation
- Increase marketing ROI
- Minimize human error
- Leverage remote workforce
- Improve collaboration
- Increase employee satisfaction
- Enhance external partner communication
- Deliver a consistent customer experience
- Facilitate customer support
- Ensure compliance
As Patrick Smyth at Evans Glass Company in Nashville, Tennessee, reminds us “Without a long-term view and a goal for achieving growth, the disruption will be the thing you focus on. That means you’ll never make the decision and never grow.” It’s never too early to investigate how a solution can help your company advance or stay ahead of the competition. So, maybe it’s time you explored new ways of working/adapting, so you can “skate to where the puck is going.”