Running on Autopilot

There are things that we do every day that we do not even think about. We make our morning coffee or tea, check the weather, drive to work. Then there are the things that we have to stop and think about before we can do them – ordering supplies, making an exception for a customer, adjusting pricing for a one-time event. Now think about the things that only you, as the business owner, know how to do. What if you are not available? Can anyone else perform that task?

Now think about what it would be like if the tasks in your business became as simple as making your morning coffee.

Systems are the Solution!

Success in business is all about consistency. Doing something well, every single time. Investing a little bit of time in designing and documenting a system has a proven payback. First, identify the tasks that need to be systematized such as opening and closing procedures, ordering inventory, fulfillment, invoicing, etc. Break it down into critical steps and the order they need to be done.  What tools or software are used? Who has access to those tools? Be sure to get input from your team at this point.  They may not do things exactly as you do – they may do it better!

Your next step is documenting the process. This can be in written form or try video. The point is to have a resource that anyone can access and refer back to when needed.  There are a number of things we do sporadically. If a report is only done quarterly or annually, you might need a refresher on how to do it. Having a document or video means that you do not have to take the time to train every person.

People Systems for Successful People

We all like to feel that we are one of a kind and that we are special. Knowing everyone’s special talents and communication style is an important aspect of management.  Treating everyone equally is just as important.  That is where systems come into play.

In most small businesses the owner is also the HR department.  Having consistency will not only make the HR functions easier, but they will also protect you and the business.  You need to have systems in place for everything from recruiting and hiring to time keeping and paid time off. 

If you bend the rules, they are no longer rules or policies, they are merely suggestions. You cannot allow one person to wear shorts and sandals and no one else.  If there is no Family Discount, there is no discount for any family members. This is really where systems are your friend! It is a pretty simple conversation that this is the way we do things, no exceptions.

Follow the Money

Finance is another area where systems will have a large impact on your business. Look for “leaks” in your business.  For example, do you check inventory before placing an order? When you are job costing, are all materials included? A builder may keep stock items on the truck such as nails and putty.  These items need to be tracked and included on invoices.

It is important to control who has access to bank accounts and credit cards. Have a system in place so there is no question of who can write checks and make purchases, and in what amounts. Automated payments from customers can reduce the chance of fraud and give you predictable cash flow. Set up a system that educates the customer, gets their payment information and processes payments. You will both appreciate the ease of doing business together.

Start now!

Systems do not have to be intricate or complicated. They are the key to improving time management, productivity, and consistency for you and for your team. Start now! Not sure how? Let’s schedule a time to talk:

Author: Sandy Merritt, Business Coach in Louisville, KY

Running on Autopilot