According to a recent survey, 58% of small and medium sized business (SMB) owners expect growth in the new year. But, as SMBs with field teams move into 2015, there is a host of challenges awaiting them. Here’s a look at what some SMB owners rated as their most difficult challenges, and how to solve them.
According to the 2014 State of Small Business Report, 40% of SMB owners ranked “employee development” as one of their top priorities. It will be a core focus in 2015, as employee turnover can be extremely costly. Research suggests that the replacement of a single $10/hour employee can cost a SMB up to $3,380. One way to combat the challenge of hiring is by conducting research on both your current and prospective employees.
To begin, SMB owners need to understand who they will be hiring. By 2020, nearly half of the US workforce will be millennials (born after 1980). Of these individuals, 84% say they want to work in a place where they can make a positive impact. With this knowledge, SMB owners can examine their high performers and identify the values and personalities that best fit the job, seeking out new employees like them. To do this, SMBs should look into adopting Field Activity Management software that provides rankings for field reps in categories like sales, client visits, etc. This kind of research will ease the hiring process and help avoid expensive employee turnover.
2. Administrative Overhead
In a recent survey, only 37% of SMB owners said they manage their time efficiently. In many industries, the inefficiency that the other 63% experiences is caused, in part, by performing manual data entry. Not only does the process take up precious time, human error in reproducing data means that mistakes, like incorrect purchase orders or invoices, often won’t present themselves until they have already damaged a business. The best way to limit mistakes caused by manual data entry and cut down on the time SMB owners spend on overhead is by implementing digital forms.
50% of SMB managers who switched from paper to digital forms said they had more time to focus on sales and revenue. You can’t completely eliminate human error, but to significantly lower mistakes, you need cut out any unnecessary data re-entry. By leveraging Field Activity Management software, field reps can enter data via their mobile phones in the field. Back-office managers can then export that information directly from the Cloud into organizational tools like Excel. This lowers the margin of error in data entry and gives SMB owners more time to focus on revenue-building activities.
3. Employee Training
For SMBs that primarily function with a field team traveling between clients, training needs to be thorough and efficient. Under-trained field reps will feel disconnected from the rest of the team. On the other hand, if your employees are happy and engaged with what they are doing, studies show that your SMB could have double the chances of economic success.
Poor employee engagement is often a result of poor training. It is caused by cryptic communication between reps and managers, as well as what some surveys call “basic needs,” or the general working environment. Field Activity Management software can offer a more direct line of communication by allowing managers to coach reps by commenting on specific projects and activities, rather than piling on inefficient emails.
New Year, New Tool
As an SMB entering the new year, there are challenges awaiting you. There will be a focus on solving hiring issues, administrative overhead, and employee training. One tool that addresses each of these issues is Field Activity Management software. Get ahead of the competition in 2015 by enabling your managers and field team with a tool that will lower your rates of employee turnover, free up essential time, and sustainably engage employees.
Erin P. Friar
Erin Friar is a Content Marketing Journalist Intern at Repsly, Inc. and is completing a Journalism degree at Suffolk University. She is a master of grammar and is passionate about creating fresh content to help foster efficiency and overall success in small businesses.