You are a successful business owner today. You have met your goals, you have increased your market share, and you have cash in your bank account. Good for you! But are you confident that this will be the story in the future? There is a tested method that can serve as your weapon against external market factors that can put your business in jeopardy. It is the self-assessment that is meant to help you evaluate your current situation, and identify your company’s strengths and weaknesses. While it is not an easy task, an honest self-assessment can save you money and even provide new opportunities for growth. Start with your employees. Ask their opinion of the company’s products, services, organization, and workflow. To do this you can prepare questionnaires that employees could submit anonymously. Try to use open-ended question to allow employees express themselves freely. Then, turn to your clients. Pick ten to twenty clients (depending on your company’s side) and ask their opinion about products and services, information flow and after-sales support. Try to select different types of clients: new, old, wholesaler, etc. You can do this as a simple e-mail survey. To ensure feedback provide some kind of incentive, like a discount on next purchase, etc. When feedback has been collected put it down on a piece of paper which is divided in four pieces (like a crossroad). Use the upper left side to write your employees’ positive feedback and left down side for their negative feedback. In a similar way, use the upper right side of the paper for positive clients’’ feedback, right down side for negative comments. Now, fold the paper in two, so that you can see only the positive comments by employees and clients and then only the negative ones. Now is the moment of truth. First, concentrate on the positive feedback you have received. Comments common among employees and clients determine your company’s strengths. This is valuable information you can use on your next promotional campaign, or to update your company profile.
Then, turn to the negative feedback. It is highly possible that common negative comments among clients and employees reflect true situations you need to alter in order to remain profitable. Independent negative comments may also reflect a negative attitude within the company. Before you move on to the next step, compile a list of potential solutions to the problems mentioned. Then, call a meeting with all your employees. Discuss the problems; ask their opinion on corrective actions. Be ready to bargain until everybody is happy. You are a businessman, not the parent who does favors to his children. If they want more money, set a more profitable goal they need to reach. If they feel neglected propose extra training, a day-off for good performance, etc. When you reach a win-win situation with your employees let them know how clients feel about certain problematic issues. Ask for solutions. If they have no proposals use your own ideas from your list. You don’t have to announce anything to the clients that have participated in the survey. Just make sure that these clients are the first who enjoy better services by your company. Call them in a month-time and ask if they have noticed the difference. Clients are usually flattered by such behavior and spread the good news to more companies. If you use the self-assessment method once or twice a year it will eventually become a driver for better performance for your employees. And if the employees understand their part of responsibility in company’s success nothing can stop you.