The E-myth by Michael Gerber has gone through many different variations, focusing on different fields and professions, but its message remains the same: the most successful businesses create repeatable results by designing and sticking to their franchise. If you have not read the book, it should be required reading for all entrepreneurs and their top managers. The lessons and examples outlined in the books give insight into why and how the most successful businesses get that way. Having documented processes also protects you against anyone in your firm having a process solely “in their head” and also increases the value of your firm.
You build your franchise by making as many of the things your business does on a regular basis into documented and repeatable processes/successes. This can range from answering the phone to on-boarding a new client. The purpose of this is to ensure that you and your employees are putting out the best product or service you can on a consistent basis. The best part of this idea is that once you have documented the way your firm goes about its business, it is much easier to bring on new members of the team and delegate specific tasks while maintaining the highest level of output. It also prevents you and other members of the firm from reinventing the wheel every time the same task pops up on their to-do list.
We have found that different people attack this process in different ways. Some people like to take a top-down approach of identifying certain positions in the firm, giving each person broad roles and responsibilities, and then laying out the specifics of how the tasks are done by each person. Others like to identify all of the tasks that the firm does, document how each task is completed, and then divvy the tasks up among the employees. Either way will lead you to the same result: processes that are documented and can be easily followed across the entire firm.
One issue that comes up a lot when firm owners want to start documenting processes is that it is very easy to want to have all of the firm’s processes documented all at one time. This, however, almost never works. When we ask employees and owners to document the processes that they do on a regular basis, we usually ask that each person document 1-2 processes per month. We have found that assigning more than that is too large of a project and often times gets put on the back burner. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Having 30 processes documented and in your CRM after six months is far better than having a few scattered processes here and there. We often discuss the processes that need to be documented at staff meetings at the beginning of the month and set the expectation that each employee should have the processes that are assigned to him or her by the staff meeting at the beginning of the following month. 1-2 processes in a month won’t overwhelm anyone into pushing this too far down on their task list and it is easier to keep people accountable to it.
We use an online brainstorming program called Stormboard (www.stormboard.com) with our clients that allows all of us to share the same screen at one time and put “virtual” post it notes up on a virtual wall. Putting each step of the process on a post it note and putting it on the wall has always been my favorite way of doing it. This program allows us to do it virtually with our clients and get the same results.
Once you have processes, make sure they are in your CRM so they can be run as needed. This, of course, keeps things from falling through the cracks and adds that level of accountability you want.
The consistency and repeatability that we see once we encourage our clients to build their franchise and document how their business runs are unparalleled. This is how you can set the stage of repeatable success in your business because without it, you are relying too much on luck and memory to make sure that each client is getting the excellent level of service your firm can provide them.
Give us a call if you want to discuss this further.