Do you want to transform your business?
Your business has great staff, good products, a strong vision and clear direction, yet is it plagued by simple, reoccurring mistakes that hamper your businesses growth? On top of that, do many of these mistakes end up robbing you of valuable time that you could be spending on your business rather than in it?
Having great staff, good products and a strong vision for the future are important building blocks for the success of any business. However, of equal importance is the glue that holds these building blocks together, creating the foundation for success. That glue is business systems.
Every business will have systems in place to some degree. Whether they are passed on from employer to employee through word of mouth, a manual or standard operating procedures. However this is done, ensuring that business systems are as accurate, up to date and comprehensive as possible can ensure a business’s short and long term success. Unfortunately, many business owners neglect this simple, yet vital procedure.
Systemising your business doesn’t need to be particularly hard or complicated. It simply starts with documenting how things are done. The purpose is to capture the collective ‘know how’ of everyone involved in the process of that particular area in the business. The why, what, when, where and how. When the people involved in specific tasks go back to basics to document the process, that is when any holes in the existing system may become apparent. For new businesses these documented systems are the foundation for future success.
Depending upon the type of business you have the top three critical systems may be:
- A sales system: outlining how the business finds prospective consumers, presents, quotes and closes sales
- A delivery or fulfilment system: how the product or service is delivered to consumers
- A customer service system: showing clearly and concisely how the business stays in contact with consumers over time
Creating a sales system, for example, may begin by outlining everything from how an inquiry by a potential customer is dealt with, to how a customer’s needs are assessed, a product or service presented, a sale closed and processed and payment collected. Even for existing systems, it is important to go back to this stage to ensure nothing is missing. Outlining each step simply with bullet points is all that is necessary at this stage. Once this has been completed a more comprehensive, detailed system can be generated.
This process should be completed for all areas of the business, including:
- Advertising and marketing systems
- Accounts payable, receivable and payroll systems
- Recruiting, hiring, inducting, training and performance systems
- Customer service systems
- Production, warehousing, inventory and logistics systems
- Safety and quality systems
- Administration, reception and record-keeping systems
Once the basic outline for the procedures in each area of the business has been completed, expand on each of the steps with a paragraph or two on the critical elements involved. It is at this stage that written procedures start to become specific to the business. This process will also help to identify any additional instructional documents that may be needed for extra detail.
Consider that a systemised business, with an up-to-date operations manual, will experience:
- Higher productivity through staff not carrying out tasks incorrectly or needing to continually ask for confirmation or clarity
- Greater customer satisfaction and confidence resulting in higher average sale process and increased repeat business
- Better accountability of staff through easier measurement of their performance against the systems
- Ease of movement of staff into, out of and around the business
- Less reliance upon key individuals, most of all the owner, as a result of systems being in place and available for training and up-skilling others
- Greater control over the flow of information throughout the business leading to less double handling and resulting in a reduction of errors
The implementation of properly documented, effective business systems enables owners and/or managers to reap many additional benefits, some of which will impact on them personally as well as the business. For example, once the systems that they are personally managing are documented, it is possible to begin delegating those tasks, effectively removing themselves from that function without creating chaos in the business.
Once owners are spending less time doing the actual work of the business, they are free to do the most important work of all, working on it, not in it! This leaves them time to focus on things like: business purpose and cultural development; strategy development and planning; market identification, measurement and product development; development of the team and its collective skills; innovation and improvement; financial planning and investment; and to watch their business transform into a growing, thriving success!