Don’t Waste Your Time: The Ins and Outs of Operational Efficiency

This interview of Dan Epstein was done by Lewis Schiff of The Business Owners Council.  I thought it was so on target that I’m reposting it in its entirety.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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We had a chance to speak with Dan Epstein of Resource Pro (who also won the Company of Year at our Council Awards in November 2015!) about improving productivity, his sales process, and entrepreneurship, among other things. Resource Pro is based in New York and China, and they strive to help their clients drive sales through improving their operational effectiveness. They do this through consulting and training, process outsourcing, and the use of analytics.

Although Resource Pro focuses on insurance organizations, Dan’s thoughtful approach to business applies to just about any field. Here’s what he had to say:

  1. Improve your productivity to drive profitable growth. Dan’s philosophy is that you don’t necessarily need to cut your business expenses. You need to do more business with the expenses you have. If 20% of your business’s activities are just wasted time, then turning that waste into useful activity can boost your revenue without raising your overhead.
  2. Invest in your team. Finding good people is only the first step. Once you’ve got them, you need to invest in them and develop their skills. For example, Resource Pro’s corporate university provides ongoing education and training to its employees. Dan compares his team to professional athletes – they may have natural talent, but they need to keep training towards specific, relevant goals to bring their ‘A’ game.
  3. Be thoughtful about your client relationships. An essential part of Resource Pro’s sales processes is choosing to work with clients who are operations-oriented and looking for ways to build up their effectiveness. The sales team is relationship-focused, and trained to build trust and intimacy with clients. They really try to understand their clients’ businesses and needs, to figure out if the relationship is a good fit for both parties.
  4. It isn’t only about a great idea. A great idea alone isn’t a sturdy enough foundation for a new business. Dan recommends that new entrepreneurs start by focusing on whether there is a gap or need in the industry they want to provide a solution for, and ask whether the market is ready for it. As Dan says “If the gap is a sufficient pain point, then there is a true business opportunity.” Don’t count on your idea instantly being embraced on its merits. Do your due diligence before jumping in with both feet.
  5. Bottom-line profitability is as important as top-line growth. A lot of people believe that all they need to do to drive profitable growth is sell, sell, sell. But getting more sales and more customers isn’t the whole picture! It’s not just about topline growth, but also bottom-line profitability. Your profits and cash flow allow you to expand and grow your business. As Dan tells his clients, top- and bottom-line growth aren’t an either/or proposition. Working on your bottom-line productivity sparks top-line growth.
  6. Automation will change the service industry in the 21st century. Much like how the auto industry now uses robots to take the place of conveyor belt work done by humans, Ben foresees new types of automation being introduced into the service industry. As computers take over the more basic parts of people’s work, they’ll be able to focus on higher-level tasks instead of routine busywork.
  7. Don’t judge an industry by its reputation. While the insurance industry may seem uninspiring or, to be blunt, boring, Dan disagrees. As he says, any business can be a great business. The insurance industry is the basis of our entire economy — no business could operate without the ability to take risk. People in insurance have the opportunity to learn about and become trusted advisors in any industry that interests them. Don’t turn down an opportunity based on preconceptions.

Thank you, Dan, for the wonderful advice.  I know I will pass it on to my team since understanding profitability, growth and people are the trifecta of running a business.