As discussed in Part One of this How to Grow an Aviation Operations Business series, regardless of where in your business journey you are, there are always things that can help you improve and grow a better businessPart two is going into how you can focus on internal efficiencies & effectiveness of your business to help with grow.
Internal efficiencies & effectiveness
Improve internal systems
One of the biggest causes of inefficiencies and ineffectiveness is internal systems being clunky and time consuming. We often put up with lots of things that we "just do" either because we don’t know another way or we've always just done it that way. Also, as we grow organically, there are things we did when we first started that worked and were efficient but then growth means they begin to become very labour intensive and inefficient. For example: taking bookings via the phone and writing them into a book was fine when you got 2 bookings a day and had one aircraft. However, when you are getting 20 bookings a day and 5 aircraft, that can become overwhelming when you have everything else you are trying to do. This is where you might need an automated booking system. Another example could be things like payroll. When it was just you and one other staff member, managing payroll and annual leave was easy but now with 10 staff and a bunch of contractors it's getting too difficult. It might be time to get a system to automate it for you or outsource it to a payroll expert.
Looking for places within your business where you or your team are spending lots of time "doing" something that shouldn't be as time consuming or as difficult as it is will give you a list of things to try and streamline and increase efficiencies & effectiveness. These things may be solved with software, they may be solved with hardware (new machinery or tools) or they may be best solved with training for your team. However they are potentially solved, making sure you are able to get a good return on your financial investment (ROI) is key before diving into anything. Also, be sure to quantify what someone's time is worth when looking at ROI. We so often forget to add peoples time as a cost.
Freeing peoples time up gives them time to do the things we want them to do. So often we're so caught up in doing the here and now things that we don’t get the chance to look and work towards the future things that continue to help grow or improve the business. For example, if your admin team are too busy taking bookings, maybe they are then not able to look for ways to make the passenger experience better when people arrive at your facility. If your pilots are so busy filling in paperwork after their flight, maybe they aren't able to look at other potential efficiency opportunities in the flights they do. If your accounts team are so focused on balancing the books daily or doing payroll, maybe they aren't able to dive into what services are the most profitable for your business. All these things could be possible if you give your team the opportunity to be more efficient & effective.
Outsource or do things "in-house"
Situations change. At one point in your journey it makes sense to outsource certain aspects of your business and then at other times it makes sense to bring those things in house again.
Outsourcing is defined as the business practice of hiring a party outside a company to perform services and/or create goods that traditionally were performed in-house by the company's own employees and staff. There are lots of reasons to outsource some work but something important to remember is that sometimes outsourcing is done to cut labor costs and business expenses, but sometimes it also enables businesses and their employees to focus on the core parts of their roles and get someone else more qualified or more available to do key tasks.What sort of things could be outsourced:
- Payroll/HR - As you are growing and the number of staff does not require your own HR/Payroll team, this is a perfect role to outsource. Find a company you trust, who understand your business and interacts well with your team to take over this key part of your business.
- IT – There will come a time where your son, niece or "pilot Pete" won't be able to keep up with your IT requirements and so you'll need to find a company to help manage and keep up to date your IT requirements.
- Bookkeeping – This is a very standard thing to outsource as there are people who are experts in this area and it can save a lot of time. It's usually just a few hours work a week but can take a lot of stress off the business owner.
- Admin tasks – The use of virtual personal assistants (PA's) has grown into its own flourishing industry. Whether it's answering your phone, takings booking & appointments, document design or organising events, a virtual PA can probably help.
- Marketing – Getting outside experts to help run social media, email marketing, advertising, design and your website is another good option for outsourcing. Marketing, especially digital marketing, is changing so quickly that having someone in the industry to be able to execute what you need could be very beneficial
- MRO & Maintenance Control – These are more likely to be something that is bought in-house when you are big enough to do so but could be something that you need to outsource early on in your business.
There are so many options of things that could be outsourced and the great thing about outsourcing is that generally it is on a month by month or short term contract basis which means you can pause or start things as required.As you grow, however, you will find there comes a tipping point where you will need someone in house to do things (again due to efficiencies but the other way around). This could be when the cost of outsourcing gets higher than the cost to employ someone in-house (full time or part time) or you'd like more control over things by having them in house or you have someone "arrive" in your company with the required skills to carry the tasks out. Just like the concept to outsource things shouldn't be taken lightly, so should the idea to bring things in-house. The ROI needs to be considered again and as well as the long term feasibility. These are not decisions to be taken lightly.
When things get busy and our teams feel rushed and stressed, it can be easy to think hiring someone instantly is the answer. This may be the case, especially when you are replacing a leaving staff member or if you have the perfect person lined up and you don't want to lose them but sometimes getting a contractor in for a few projects or a period of time is a good way to do this. It allows you to be a little more flexible with things and lets you decide if they might be the right person for a long term role when it does come available or if there are changes in the amount of work you have (seasonal or cyclic trends) you aren't left with full time staff to keep in work.Contractors will almost always be more expensive than hiring a permanent staff member but it can often be the best way to go for both you as the employer and the contractor. Xero has a good guide that promotes the pros and cons of both employees and contractors as well as how they are classified.
Mobile devices & internet speeds
Occasionally the things that are holding efficiencies & effectiveness back are easier to identify like slow internet or being "attached" to a computer to get things done.
For some people, especially millennials, there is nothing more frustrating than slow internet and although we often just need to learn some patience, there is large drop in productivity due to slow internet. Datakom explains that "many hours of working time can be lost waiting for pages to load. For example, if you spend 4 hours a day using the internet with 5% of that time lost to a sluggish connection (approximately 15 minutes a day). Stretch this over one year’s time- that’s 50 hours of lost productively- times this by the number of employees and the amount of lost productivity sharply goes up!"
There are many options for internet access with the role out of 5G, fibre and satellite internet when needed. Getting the best quality internet could make a huge difference to your teams productivity.
Mobile devices are another source of frustration in the work place. For some of your team they need to get off their phones and you may even have a no mobile phone policy in your workplace depending on your teams need for them for work. However, giving people the ability to complete work on a mobile device (mobile, tablet or laptop) could also make a large difference to their efficiencies & effectiveness. If they don’t need to go back to a desktop in the office to complete certain tasks or they could take photos, video or voice memos from where they are in the field or in the hangar, that could mean more accurate and quicker data entry when they do get "back to the office".
Some pieces of software have specific apps that means you can very easily complete tasks "with your thumbs" and be more efficient with your time. Aeronet, for example, has a mobile view so that pilots can complete a whole range of tasks on their phones when needed. This allows for a quicker, more up to date and simpler data input process for all involved.
Gaining internal efficiencies & effectiveness for your team through improving your internal systems and processes, potentially outsourcing or bringing things back "in-house", finding some contractors and checking your internet speeds and ability to do things on mobile. All of these things can really add together to enhance the effectiveness of your team.
This is part two of a four part Aviation Operations business growth series. The other parts of the series include: