Something we see often in our prospects and clients is when they first started their business, they worked day and night to make it successful. This is always an inspiration, as it takes a fair amount of grit to make it through the first few years - out of the "startup" phase. Keeping the momentum going to ensure your business sustains the success can be a challenge. Especially when you add team members and they are now servicing clients. How do you keep the end in mind when building and sustaining your business?
W. Edwards Deming said it best: "If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing."
Slowing down to look at how you get things done in your business can be an arduous task. Especially if you're the type of person who has very little patience for this. Documenting the "how" is daunting to some business owners. So let's start with the "why". Why should you take the time to carefully document how your business runs?
The answer is simple: to create a consistent experience for your clients. If you can say with confidence that each client gets the same experience without process, you can stop reading this now. If, however, you lack a common process, this may help you. We're fortunate to work with businesses who believe in beginning with the end in mind. They embrace and plan to leave their business one day. The process is a key part of being able to successfully transition your business to the next generation. It's not the only part, but it is a key part.
Each organization has subject matter experts (or SMEs) in each area of the business. If the owner is the SME, it's time to start developing the team in this capacity. Below is a step by step guide on how to develop processes and procedures for your organization:
1. Make a list of all the processes that are needed for your organization. Think about when you acquire a new client all the way until that client leaves. An example list includes but is not limited to:
-Signing a new client
-Processing initial payment
-Establishing billing cadence and means of payment
-Welcoming the client to your company
-Providing all important information for them to know
-Establishing the terms of your agreement and executing agreed-upon services
2. Establish a template to document your processes. Items to consider including are:
-Who is responsible for each part - we recommend using the RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consultant, Informed) model
-What technology is needed for each part of the process (a CRM, or an LMS, etc.)
-How does the process flow from beginning to end?
-Identify resources for those who are carrying out the process. This could be tutorials or a person.
3. Identify who within the organization is performing the process most. Ask them to write down the process from start to finish in the template you provide.
4. Put someone in charge of reviewing and editing (if necessary) all processes.
5. Establish a place to publish all processes and procedures and communicate this to all employees.
Certain processes will be shorter than others. Careful documentation of each step lends to a consistent experience for every client you sign.
Remember, "The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” – Helmut Schmidt
Once you establish processes, make sure you are updating them as necessary. Don't forget to communicate all changes to your team. Communication and clarity are essential!
Lastly, it is essential to reinforce your processes. Never stop directing your team to follow the process. This may seem tedious and unnecessary. I promise it is not. Don't fall victim to the "set it and forget it" cycle. You are the leader and your team watches you and emulates you. They want to follow the leader - so be the example of what you want to see in their performance.
Developing a repeatable process is what separates good companies from great ones. Think of your business as a franchise - even if that's not the goal of your business. Future generations will need your processes to ensure success. Do you have a hiring process? An onboarding process? A sales process? Remember to begin with the end in mind.