Innovation Blog


The #1 Way to Streamline Your Business

  • Aug 22, 2014
  • By Satoshi Suzuki, Business Consultants, Inc.
  • 1 タグ

The #1 Way to Streamline Your BusinessChange isn’t always easy. It takes time to build up a working routine, and once we’re settled, we can develop blind spots for our own inefficiencies. It can be hard to take a critical look at our own processes, and have them criticized by others, but this is how we truly improve. To really streamline our business, we need to take a critical look at each part of our process and ask – “Is it really necessary?”

In this case study, we’ll take a look at an example of effective consultation regarding membership processes at a fitness club, and implementation of effective business practices. In this example, the club’s sole full-time employee is the Club manager, charged with reporting a variety of data to the head office. In his efforts to take care of administrative tasks, he neglected his most important resource – the customers. His challenge was to review his procedures, streamlining them where possible to increase time available to customers and customer satisfaction.

It took just a few minor changes to improve the business as a whole. For example:

1. Usability of Customer Registration Forms

Previously: In order to sign up, customers were required to write their name, address and phone number on each of four different registration forms. This process not only impeded customer registration, but occasionally required the owner to take time to clarify this part of the procedure.

Improvement: The four forms were streamlined and their information compiled into one form, shortening customer registration time and easing the process.

 2. Diversification of Registration Options

Previously: Registration could only be done in person, at the club’s desk, during hours where many of the club’s potential customers were at work. Additionally, users registering for club membership took up the owner’s time at the front desk and with later database entry.

Improvement: By implementing an online registration form, users could register from home or work, improving the process and eliminating data entry for the owner. Data input at customer registration was automatically routed to a database, allowing for analysis that could be leveraged for improved customer satisfaction.

3. Out-processing Surveys

Previously: In order to foster general improvements, customers were asked to fill out a 30+ question survey upon opting to terminate membership. Customers expressed annoyance at being asked to fill out such a long survey simply to end their membership at the gym.

Improvement: Customers were thanked for their time at the club and encouraged to re-enroll at a later date. Questions were trimmed down extensively, only troubling users with questions that were shown to improve best practices.

4. Re-Enrollment Promotion

Previously: The gym sent e-mails and memos to former members, encouraging re-enrollment, but the success rate was low. Some customers replied unfavorably, asking to be removed from mailing lists.

Improvement: The gym asked users at the time of withdrawal if the club could send notices of re-enrollment, ensuring only interested customers received the notifications. This narrowed customer focus, reduced workload and cost, and resulted in increased re-enrollment.

5. Cancellation

Previously: Cancellations were only processed at the club on a designated date each month, resulting in an increase in client attendance on the day before and day of cancellation. Extra staff were hired to manage the increase in customers on these days.

Improvement: Membership fees were pro-rated for a daily rate, allowing customers to cancel when needed. Customers were able to cancel at their convenience, and the gym was able to save on labor costs.

 By connecting with customers on a human, user-friendly level and thinking about our processes as though we were customers ourselves, we can establish innovative and rewarding best practices. What might seem like innovation or cleverness is simply usability, understanding how customers experience the processes we ourselves set. In reviewing standards and practices in this way, we can remove needless bureaucracy and repetition from our operations and streamline them, improving both manager and user experience.

We can innovate every day. As you work through a process or a challenge, stop and ask yourself, “What can I do to improve this?” Approach each operation in your business as something constantly growing, changing, and improving, and embrace a change that your customers and staff will appreciate, as well.

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