4 Simple Ways to Improve Your Operations

The peak holiday season has passed us by once again and in the whirl of fourth-quarter craziness many of us realize there were ideas put forth for operational improvements, but we just can’t seem to remember them all now.

For merchants who do the bulk of their business during this peak time, it’s a great opportunity to learn what can be improved on for next holiday season. Here is a simple strategy that was implemented on a whim, but has now become our main method of gathering valuable information from our teams so that we can continually improve our operations.

Use Post-It easel notepads

During peak season, post large wall-sized notepads outside commonly used work areas for each department so that team members can record their ideas and suggestions. When businesses are running at their peak, it’s usually a time when team members think of ways to do things better. This is also the time when many of us have a large amount of temporary team members on staff, which lends itself to a new set of ideas from people who are not used to doing things the same as before, many times they see things we pass over in the course of our daily operations.

Schedule an “after season” staff meeting

After the holiday rush, typically in January, host an annual “After Season” all staff meeting where you review each department’s list of ideas or suggestions. Everyone is advised ahead of time to come prepared with ideas, so any additional information gathered during this meeting can be added to the appropriate departmental list.

Create and prioritize a master list

From the information gathered, you can now create a master list of ideas categorized by department. Department heads determine which ideas are most feasible to implement and will gain the most in return. Prioritize these in order of importance, ease of implementation and cost. This creates a strategy of operational improvements for each department.

Reward ideas

Create a reward system so team members who contribute ideas that are implemented are recognized. It can be something as simple as a gift card for coffee or a pair of movie tickets, but it is important to show that you value their input.

Keep in mind, not every idea is going to be implemented and some ideas may not even be relevant, but it keeps team members thinking ahead to improve your operations.

Kim Silva (kim@brownies.com) is operations team leader for Fairytale Brownies.

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