If you have ambitions to scale, franchise or sell your business, you need systems that run your business and people who run those systems.
By systems I mean a uniform and consistent way of doing everything in your business - the one ‘right’ way - that you will achieve by having ‘How-To’ guides that make it clear what that one ‘right’ way is.
Systems are essential if you are ever to build your high-performing team
By high-performing I mean a team that can consistently reach or exceed your high standards whilst working pretty much independently.
Recognising existing routines is a good place to start for any business looking to grow because from those routines you will develop your one ‘right’ way and the “How To” guide to achieve it.
This in turn will help develop your independent and empowered team. Systems become ‘the way we do things round here’ and that way should always be simple, logical (even to a 3rd party) and repeatable because you want it done in the same way, consistently, every time and by everyone.
The dictionary defines routine as ‘a set of actions regularly followed’
We all have routines in our lives - morning routines, Friday evening routines, bedtime routines.
Some we recognise as the way we get things done, and many have become habits that would now be hard to break.
In the work environment, we may also have a number of personal routines that help us get things done.
Perhaps you start your day with ninety minutes of business building activity.
Maybe you take forty minutes at lunchtime to get out into the fresh air and recharge your batteries.
Good routines are good for business. Here’s how to turn them into systems:
Sit down with your team and brainstorm everything that you do regularly in your business.
There will be things on there that you do more or less every day, and things that you know you do at least once a year.
At this point don’t worry about exactly when the task is done, or exactly when it should be done, just make sure that between you, you capture any tasks that you do once or more every single year.
Collate all of the tasks under these headings: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly
At this point remove any duplicates (eg if two people have called the same task a different name) and any tasks that you used to do, but have not done for a few years, or will not be doing going forward.
Go through your list again, and discuss whether each of your routines has a purpose.
Does it add to the productivity of the team?
Is it of any benefit to your customers?
Or is it just something that you’ve always done?
Cross off anything that does not add value to the business.
Don’t forget to look at your own routines.
Are they still adding value or could any be delegated now, as your business has evolved?
Think about your business and how you want it to progress over the coming year and brainstorm routines and habits that you would like to get into. For example:
Having a monthly team meeting
Preparing a weekly business dashboard of critical performance indicators
Holding ninety day reviews with team members
Sending out a customer survey every six months
Enjoying a team breakfast every week.
Pick a routine. With your team, write down each step within the routine on post-its.
Go back through all of the steps and look for any that are unnecessary e.g. do you have any duplication of effort.
Remove any steps that you think are unnecessary or make the routine more complicated than it needs to be.
If you think any step is missing, add a post-it. This is your chance to make improvements.
Arrange the steps in a logical order with your team and play about with the chosen format until you’re happy.
Get a second opinion on the simplicity and logic of your system.
Could someone follow these steps as you’ve laid them out and complete the task to the standard you expect?
When you’re sure that your system is Simple Logical and Repeatable, record it and store it in a file with a title you’ll easily remember.
Delegate ownership of this system to a team member and teach them how to use it effectively.
Communicate the routines to the whole team and tell them who has ownership of each.
Explain the importance of these routines becoming good habits that will help the business to grow, and the benefits of that for the whole team.
Once you have completed the steps above, record each of your finalised routines and annotate when they will be done.
For daily routines, decide what time of day you want them to be completed.
For weekly routines, what day of the week; try not to have everything fall on a Friday or Monday.
For monthly, be specific about what date or choose something like ‘the last Thursday of the month’.
For quarterly and yearly, again be specific about the day or date.
Remember a system is never set in stone.
It will change and evolve with your business and as your team develop their skills and knowledge.
Take the time to review it and improve it periodically and listen to any ideas from your team about how to make it even more simple.
Your goal: To get to the point where there is only one way, the ‘right’ way, to do everything in your business.