As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, opportunities for logistic companies expand. While this is good news, it also means competition within the industry is rising. If supply chain businesses want to stand out from competitors, they must increase their financial efficiency.
Many investors and potential business partners use financial efficiency metrics to determine a company’s economic health. Consequently, financially inefficient businesses may miss out on valuable strategic opportunities. Partnerships and investment aside, an efficient company is a more successful one.
Here are seven ways executives can increase their company’s financial efficiency to attain these benefits.
Automate Back-Office Tasks
Most businesses have repetitive, manual tasks that take time away from more valuable work. According to one study, more than 40% of workers spend at least 25% of their time on these tasks. Since these inefficiencies are so common and so impactful, automation can bring considerable rewards.
Many of these inefficiencies are in back-office operations like data entry, scheduling, and approvals. These tasks are also easily automatable through robotic process automation (RPA) solutions. By implementing these tools, companies can free their employees to focus on other, more important work, accomplishing these goals sooner.
RPA is also often faster than humans at these repetitive tasks. As a result, companies will improve the efficiency of these back-office processes as well as the more valuable manual operations.
Increase Fleet Visibility
Another common source of financial inefficiency in logistics companies is a lack of visibility. Fleet operations are prone to disruption, and when businesses can’t predict or see them as they unfold, these disruptions can have far-reaching consequences. In contrast, increasing visibility can help respond to developing situations faster, minimizing delays and costs.
Many companies now track fleets with GPS systems, but businesses can go further, too. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors can monitor and communicate data like location, driving patterns, maintenance info, and product quality in real-time. With this timely information, fleet managers can see issues as they arise, leading to quicker, more effective responses.
Faster reactions lead to better customer service, less disruption, and sometimes avoiding serious delays entirely. Businesses’ financial efficiency will rise as a result.
Address Accounts Receivable
Accounts receivable turnover is one of the most popular metrics for financial efficiency, so businesses should strive to collect debts as quickly as possible. In the delay-heavy and prone-to-disruption world of logistics, that can be complicated. However, a few options can help.
One way to improve this ratio is to provide multiple payment methods for clients. This allows customers to use whatever best suits their needs, leading to quicker reactions from them. Similarly, payments will be faster when customers can use a process they’re already familiar with.
Another way to improve accounts receivable turnover ratios is to employ automation. Automated billing, reminders, and processing services are abundant today and can streamline the process for both companies and their clients. Employing these solutions while providing multiple payment methods will ensure businesses collect outstanding payments as quickly as possible.
Refinance or Consolidate Outstanding Debts
Outstanding debts are another common obstacle to financial efficiency. Having debts is normal for a business, but that doesn’t mean companies shouldn’t continuously reevaluate their loans. Periodically addressing these to see if there’s a way to refinance or consolidate them can help cultivate financial agility.
Many logistics companies may have outstanding vehicle loans, for example. These ongoing payments can easily fade into the background, but refinancing them can save $150 per vehicle per month in some cases. That seemingly small change frees up extra monthly revenue that companies can then put towards something else.
Alternatively, some companies may want to consolidate some of their debts. Doing so can make it easier to manage them and lower interest rates. Businesses may then be able to pay them off sooner.
Improve Cross-Department Communication
One aspect of the business that may fly under the company’s radar is communication between departments. When things get lost in translation moving between teams, it can lead to mistakes or take more time to achieve the desired goal. These mistakes and delays hinder financial efficiency, so improving communication can increase it.
Communication barriers cost $62.4 million annually in lost productivity on average. Consequently, companies should strive to remove barriers to effective collaboration, especially between different departments. Using collaborative software, holding frequent meetings, using instant messaging apps, and similar steps can do that.
When teams can communicate efficiently, confusion-related errors will decrease. Similarly, cross-department projects will have shorter completion times thanks to easier collaboration.
Inventory turnover is another aspect of financial efficiency to address. The longer items sit in warehouses or distribution centers, the less agile a company is. While logistics businesses may not be directly involved in the sales side of this issue, they can take steps to improve inventory inefficiencies.
Like fleets themselves, most inefficiencies in this area come from a lack of visibility. When organizations don’t know exactly where every item is at all times, it can take time to retrieve the correct one. Similarly, this lack of transparency can lead to confusion and errors that require correction down the road, leading to delays.
According to one survey, 34% of businesses have shipped items late because they sold out-of-stock items. Warehouse management systems, IoT tracking, and RFID tags can all help keep better track of inventory levels, avoiding mistakes like this. Logistics businesses can then pass these benefits along to their partners, creating positive ripple effects.
Train Employees More Thoroughly
One risk factor that can affect financial efficiency in any department in any business is human error. Even small mistakes can lead to considerable disruptions over time as more employees make them. Many may suggest automation as an answer, but that isn’t applicable in every circumstance and isn’t always necessary.
The solution to this problem is to put more emphasis on employee training. Organizations should look for common mistakes and, as trends emerge, emphasize these points in training. Periodic refresher courses over high-value or complicated processes can help too.
When workers better understand how to perform their jobs correctly, they’ll also work faster. More thorough training will boost confidence, leading to less second-guessing and higher efficiency.
Financial Efficiency Is Critical for Any Logistics Business
As the logistics market grows increasingly crowded, businesses must improve their financial efficiency to stay competitive. Higher efficiency will lower operating costs, attract investors, and open new strategic opportunities. These seven steps can help any business increase its financial efficiency. Companies can then become as agile and profitable as possible.