The pilot skillfully descends, hits the tarmac smoothly, and taxis to the hangar. What happens after the plane lands?
Rest & relaxation would be nice, but pilots always do a post-flight inspection of their aircraft. Not only do they make sure that everything is in working order, they also inspect every system for signs of possible malfunctions that could affect the next flight.
Business owners can avoid potential loss or harm by conducting both a Pre-Flight Check of events or projects yet to occur, as well as a Post-Flight Check. Let’s take a look at what you can do once a project ends.
In the previous episode, we reviewed some questions to ask for Pre-Flight Checks (check out Completing a Pre-Flight Check of Your Business).
Now, here are some Post-Flight Checks to help you identify the signals that something could be a potential concern for your company.
You may have recently done these business tasks:
- finished a marketing campaign,
- completed a major project,
- purchased a big capital expense,
- added a division or department to your company, or
- gone through a leadership change.
After completing a any of these experiences, your company can greatly benefit from a post-mortem review.
The questions below will help you assess what has happened and decide how to proceed, whether changes need to be made, and how to make the most of your time and resources as you continue to move toward your goals.
1. Review the Results
A post-flight check would include a full review of all major systems including the engine, battery, wings, flaps, landing gear, and propellers. Pilots also look for any signs of damage or weakness in the plane’s exterior.
Once you have completed a project or event, take the time to review the situation objectively. Consider these questions:
- Is there any damage that may not be immediately visible? This include:
- Waste – extra consumption of resources, over-spending, or neglect of primary tasks
- Loss – being deprived of an important asset or resource (such as key employees; check out What You Can Do to Boost Risk Intelligence After Losing Staff)
- Fraud – possible ways someone has created an unfair advantage by depriving others, such as influencing customers or employees to leave
- Abuse – intentional or unintentional harm such as harassment, intimidation, or bullying
- Do you self-evaluate your successes and failures every year with a Year In Review?
2. Re-Align with Strategic Goals
Businesses don’t function well unless they have a clear direction and move toward a pre-determined goal.
Even if you prefer a “fly by the seat of your pants” approach, an owner is still responsible for creating a structure with pre-set markers, and to making sure that they end up at the right destination. A strategic plan can keep you on the right flight path, and it is also a reference point to make sure you get the right results.
An effective strategic plan includes 5 core elements: it is Structured, Honest, Accurate, Participatory, and Energizing.
Read more: Is Your Strategic Plan in SHAPE?
3. Calculate Profit Margins
Knowing whether you’re making money or not is the most important question to ask as a business owner. Yet a surprisingly high number of people aren’t comfortable with this topic.
Profit margin is calculated this way:
(Total Sales – Total Expenses) / Total Sales
- Are you reviewing your profit margins on each type of service or product?
- Do you know the difference between profit (sales) and profit margins (amount you keep after expenses)?
- Is your attention focused on the activities that generate 80% of your profit?
Read more: Analyzing Profit Margins FAQs
4. Evaluate Complaints and Other “Damage”
Pilots always look for propeller damage, loose bolts, or holes in the hull of their aircraft after a flight. As a business owner, you can take stock of any pubic relations problems before they get worse.
- Which complains have customers shared over the past year?
- How do you respond to negative feedback and complaints on social media or other online forums?
- What structured process do you use to listen to “bad news”?
5. Know Your Limits
How do you know if you have pushed too far? Or what are the signs that an employee is feeling burnout?
Instead of waiting for a catastrophe, take the time to step back.
- Are you and your staff focused on the right things?
- Is too much time wasted on unnecessary tasks?
- Do you schedule time for mental health breaks?
- Are staff allowed to flex their work schedule to accommodate a true work-life balance?
6. Maximize and Improve
Airplanes that have pride of ownership are beautiful to look at: they gleam from a professional paint job, the windows are clean, and the interior is pleasant and organized. All the main components are in working order; but the owner takes extra steps to make sure the aircraft is not just functional — it is also attractive.
If you want to attract the best possible customers, make sure to evaluate their buying experience. Consider these questions:
- What is it like to purchase services or products from your company?
- Why did customers (or employees) decide to leave in the past year? What were the root causes for their decision?
- Have you identified which customers are Ideal for your business? (people who follow your process, benefit from your services, pay on time, and are a pleasure to serve)
- Do you gently say “no” to customers who are not Ideal?
There you have it: 7 pre-flight checks and 6 post-flight checks that you can apply to your business starting today.
If you are interested in discussing how to reverse staff turnover and increase the profit margins in your organization, find out more here.
Grace LaConte is a business strategist, writer, and workplace equity advocate whose risk management graphics are used around the globe. She specializes in finding hidden threats and opportunities in organizations that employ working parents. Grace is the host of the What’s Wrong with Your Business? Podcast, which provides tools to adapt in a rapidly changing market.