Short of Staff? Do this one thing now.

You might know that my wife owns a physio clinic. No, I am not here to plug her business.

I am writing this article to share the particular stress we’ve been having (not asking for relationship advice either – though if you are good at that, do send me a tip).

The thing is: it’s getting harder and harder to get good staff and it’s having a real impact on the ability of her business to grow.

When you’re in the moment of that stress, you sometimes don’t see the wood for the trees, but clients have been telling me the same thing, and we’ve been starting to see stories in the press. For some businesses, their revenue is decreasing because of a lack of staff, not a lack of customers.

How is that?

Whatever the cause—COVID, closed borders, changes in immigration rules—many businesses are struggling.

The truth is, we are actually looking to hire a couple of developers for our team and it’s proving quite hard.

Then I remembered a quote from “The 4-hour Workweek” by Tim Ferris. Here it is:

Most people wake up every morning with a task list of a thousand things to do. They go through the day trying to knock down all these things. I do things differently. I wake up every morning and I meditate. I drink tea or coffee. I go for a walk, and maybe I read a book. My goal is to identify the One Thing that if I could knock that down, all the other dominos would either fall down or become irrelevant.

That is when the penny dropped.

I just had to find that One Thing. That is when I found my answer. Something that I knew intuitively and we strive to do it but I recently got so caught up in the moment that I didn’t think of it like this.

The answer is automation. I guess you might have seen that coming from a business that helps others innovate through software and automation.

I’m not talking robots here. Although, if you’re in manufacturing that’s obviously something you’re looking at.

No, I’m talking about automating those tasks that you have done manually since you started the business, just because that’s how it is.

At Naked Bus, we automated the handling of bus delays. What does this mean? Well, the old way was when there was a delay, customers would start phoning up and asking where their bus was.

That was how our competitor, Intercity, did it, and they had 42 people in their call centre. Naked Bus did things differently. When we had a delay, we had an automated text message sent to waiting customers telling them how long they should expect to wait (the system knew when buses were late). We had 2 people in our call centre.

The beauty of this approach is, not only did it save us money, but we gave our customers better service – by NOT talking to them.

Mind-blowing right?

You see, by doing this, we found out that our customers didn’t want to talk to us. They wanted to know when their bus would arrive. By giving them that certainty we made them much happier.

But what if your shortage is in customer-facing staff? You can’t automate that, can you?

Well, even here, the answer is “probably”. Take a café. You go in, wait in a queue (because they are busy, or short-staffed), order your coffee, pay, then sit down. Your order gets passed to the barista who makes your coffee, and eventually, you get served.

How many times do you do that in the same café?

Imagine, instead, leaving your office, pulling up the café’s app, selecting your regular coffee, walking into the café, and sitting down, and your coffee is brought to you in seconds.

The app has automated that transaction process. The boring bit where you queue, give your order and pay.

You get your coffee, and if the café knows anything about customer service, a bit of banter when it’s delivered, but you get better service, and the café has lower costs.

Unfortunately, we can’t automate a physio or a developer. But we can automate many of the other things that go on in the business so we can save our current developers and physios more time. The same goes for our entire team.

Hey, you might even think that in your field people really want to talk to someone.

Well… Let me be the one breaking this to you:

Customers are changing. And 60% of people don’t actually want to talk to people and 75% of buyers said they are spending more time researching purchases online.

If you are keen to chat with our team about applying these techniques to your business, book an appointment for a virtual coffee.

Sorry, you’ll have to make your own coffee—after all, we are the lazy team.

But we’re happy to chat about strategy, automation, and actually building the software and apps that can free up your resources and cut your costs.


Hamish Nuttall, CEO and Founder of ThinkLazy

Hamish Nuttall

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