eBay Tips 2008: The ‘Henry Ford’ Thing

I once asked a particularly robotic, unimaginative and starched new employee at eBay (replete with crisp light blue shirt, tshirt underneath and immaculately pressed chinos) what he’d be doing. He replied, confidently; ‘I will manage the process.”

He’s doubtless doing well and is probably raking it in after numerous promotions and, even if I don’t totally understand what he does, I do get the gist. It’s consultancy speak for ‘I make sure we do things as quickly, cheaply and as efficiently as possible because when we do that, we make more money.”

It’s not a new idea and I like to think of it as the ‘Henry Ford thing’. Examine your working practices and make sure you’re doing your daily tasks as efficiently as possible.

Batch up tasks
Doing 15 parcels in one go doesn’t take fifteen times longer than doing a single parcel. Not if you include looking for the address labels, making a cup of tea and losing the tape gun. It’s often easier to take 100 pics or videos in one go: you get into the swing of it and get quicker. Planning ahead and only firing up the scanner or camera once a week will save time.

Plan
Multiple daily trips to the post office, emergency excursions to get supplies or just general disorganisation take up time. Even a modicum of planning (and I say this as one of the most chaotic people I know) will help.

Examine your Workspace
Henry Ford boiled down the entire process of car manufacture to find the most efficient way of making a cheap car and a healthy profit. You just have to see if you can save a few minutes here and there. I strongly suggest having a space dedicated to your selling, even it’s a tiny space, having everything in one pace will make it easier. If you have bigger operation, look at how you work and see what you could do more efficiently.

Check your Tools.
The one thing that revolutionised my selling was a label printer (Thanks Mountie!). Might a faster laser printer be something that could save you time? Even just a tape gun, a proper marker pen or a simple gadget could help. If it’s going to save you time, then the chances are that the investment is worth it.

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