Ah, the joy of spring! When the flowers bloom and the sunshine feels good, it’s time to start spring cleaning. So how does spring cleaning apply to small businesses?
Well, as a business owner there are things you can do to “clean up” your business. Spring is a great time to look around and see what you can “clean” that will allow for better operations.
Clean up your excess inventory
An easy place to start cleaning may be with your inventory. If you are a retailer, you should analyze your inventory. What is moving and what has been on the shelf for the past year with little or no turnover?
If you have slow-moving inventory, it might be a great time to mark down that inventory as low as necessary to get it moving. If you have a wide variety of inventory that needs to be moved, then you might want a spring sidewalk sale to get things off your shelf and out the door.
Clean up your computer
Spring may be a great time to clean your computer system inside and out. You can start by just using a can of compressed air to blow out the dust buildup and some free software to clean the insides of your system.
One product I have used to achieve this is CCleaner. It is a free system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool that you can download from the Internet. It removes unused files from your computer system, which can make your computer run faster. It also cleans traces of your online activities.
Clean up your customer list
Another item that needs to be cleaned periodically is your customer list. Do you know where your business is coming from? Who are your top producing customers? Are there customers that take a lot of time but don’t pay for that time?
You might want to confirm that your contact information is still valid. You also need to find out how your customers want to be contacted. If it is more effective to email Ms. Smith and call Mr. Jones, you should set up systems to accommodate their communication styles if possible. In short, keep your customer list clean and accurate and treat it like the gold it is.
Clean up your files
In today’s world of massive information and communication, it is easy to become overwhelmed by paperwork. I am in hopes that you do have a filing system. If papers are just piled on your floor and desk, start by sorting them and placing them in files.
I know some business owners who scan all their paperwork and file them digitally. Whatever method you are using, be organized and periodically review and toss unnecessary clutter. It will help make you more efficient and just plain feel better.
Clean up your accounts receivable
Every business owner should monitor accounts receivable on a regular basis. If you haven’t been reviewing your A/R regularly you may be hurting your cash flow. You need to know what is outstanding and why it is outstanding.
Communicate with late customers and if necessary put them on a payment plan. If there is a problem with the billing, correct the error and clean up the records.
Clean up your physical space
It is amazing how we get accustomed to clutter in our own business. It can be a real turn off to your customers. Try to walk through your business and look at it from your customer’s point of view.
Are the floors clean? Is there junk on the floor? Are there too many displays in the aisles? Do the walls look dirty or dated? Sometimes a little cleaning and painting can create a fresh new look for you and your customers.
Remember, cleanliness can go hand in hand with efficiency as well as enhance your overall business health. So take a look around and see what spring cleaning needs to be done in your business and do it.
Lynn Vos is area director of the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at 912-651-3200.