A while ago, we mapped out a customer journey for one of our clients. (We map it out on a roll of brown paper, looking at all of the touch-points that the customer has with the team, and who is involved at each point.) Their journey was about twenty-five feet of brown paper long, and so confusing that my head hurt when we’d finished.
The sales team were involved from start to finish of this journey; I’m surprised they ever had time to sell! The customer had to speak to four different people in order to do business with the team. Supporting the journey there were four teams, all over-lapping in terms of the roles they were performing, and all doing things in a very different way.
What had happened was what happens a lot in successful small businesses. Maybe it’s happening to you. They had started small; the owner and three trusted team members all of whom were very clear about their role and very focused on it. Communication was tight, everyone knew what everyone else was doing and the larger business picture. They quickly became successful and with the success came a bigger team, and an even bigger team, until very soon they were a team of thirty.
With such rapid growth ‘the way we do things around here’ had become confused, as each of the four original team members gave new people their version of what the operating processes were. Then those people trained others their way and so on until chaos reigned. As a consequence, their service and delivery times were poor, they’d lost consistency and they were losing staff almost as quickly as they could hire them.
Our job was to work with the team to unravel the Customer Journey (always easier when you’re not in the thick of it), to look for the simplest route for the customer, and the most logical way to support their journey. And then with them, to develop the ‘one right way’ to do everything. To regain consistency from the chaos and to restore the company as ‘easy to do business with’ and a great place to work.
It’s easy over time particularly when you’re growing quickly to lose the one right way and that tight system of communication. Having those things in place at the beginning of your business, having the one right way, the ‘How To’ for each task and solid lines of communication embedded in your business gives you reliable foundations for growth. And the one right way isn’t stagnant. If someone comes up with a better way of doing things or technology allows an improvement then that becomes the new one right way and gets trained in using a new How To.
Regularly reviewing your Customer Journey will ensure you’ve not added hoops for your customer to jump through as your business has evolved.
Do two things:
1. Think about your Customer Journey; view it through your Customers’ eyes through each tiny step right from:
- How many feet of brown paper will you need?
2. Take your daily routines and start to develop ‘the one right way’ (your How Tos) with your team. Start laying those solid foundations for consistency and growth.
Thanks for reading :)
Many people I speak to can see the benefits of a systemised business. ‘Look at McDonald’s; look at Amazon,’ they say, ‘every really successful business is systemised, absolutely…there’s no getting away from it.’
But when it comes down to their own business you can see them coming out in a rash. The thought of systemising their business is just too overwhelming…
’I don’t have time’
‘I can’t afford it’
‘Systems are just a luxury’
I’ve heard them all.
The reality is that we all already have systems in our business; we all do things! But if the way we do things is not simple, logical and repeatable then we are wasting time and money and not achieving what every Customer (and every business owner) wants – consistency! We’re spending time checking, correcting, complaining, working in our business not on it.
What I’m saying is that we have a choice, either:
a. do things haphazardly, with each team member doing things their way, reinventing the wheel every time a task is done, little being done the way you want it to be or
b. do every task in your business, in a simple, logical, repeatable way.
For me it’s a no brainer.
The question is not, ‘Can I afford to systemise my business?’ but ‘Can I afford not to?’
And the reality is, it’s really not the huge, overwhelming, expensive task you think it is.
You decide you’re going to do it, you start small, with your most routine, every day tasks and you ask three key questions:
1. ‘Is this task simple?’
Could anyone walking in off the street, (if it’s a basic task), or with the necessary technical knowledge (if it’s a specialist task) follow the steps to complete it?
2. ‘Is this task logical?’
Does the way we do it make sense? Can I answer the question, ‘why do we do it this way?’
3. ‘Is this task repeatable?’
Can it be done in the same way every time? Can I train people to do it this way?
A good system is simply a uniform and consistent way of doing things that makes your life easier. If a system doesn’t make life easier – for you, your team, or your customer, then it’s the wrong system.
There aren’t five different ways to cook fries at McDonald’s; there is one way. There aren’t seven different ways to open up the restaurant and get everything set up for the day, there is one way. Everybody at McDonald’s at every level, knows ‘the way we do things around here’ and everything that is done, is simple, logical and repeatable.
Contrary to what they might tell you, McDonald’s franchisees have a great life. They have freedom to choose when they’ll work and when they won’t; when they’ll go to the golf course, or on holiday, or simply stay in bed. They have that freedom because their business has systems, because everybody that works in their business knows exactly the way things work, so they can trust their team to perform consistently every single day.
Freedom, Trust and Consistency – business nirvana!
And the only difference between them and you, is that they have effective systems.
So what are you going to do about it?
Do one thing: Draw a line in the sand and take small simple steps towards a more consistent and profitable business:
Thanks for reading.
‘The one right way gives your customers the consistency they love and increases profit, which you’ll love.’
For years, I labelled myself as a ‘process’ person when really I’m a ‘making life easier’ person. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’d use the word ‘process’ at network meetings, and see the shutters go down. I’d try ‘systems’ and they’d think I was a techie, into software and IT. I’d used language that put me in a box that no-one wanted to open ‘except in emergency!’
You know what I mean. You’re a ‘get on and do it’ person, and the people who love process are the ‘Rule-Bound Reggies’ of this world, paralysed by the need to analyse, lacking creativity, shackled by the need to ‘follow the system’ – right? Well, sometimes! The truth is, we all need to get past the language.
The only reason a process or a system exists is to make life easier for you, your managers, your team, your customers. There is no other reason for them. But if like many people ‘a process’ brings you out in a rash then try replacing it with ‘a how to’.
At McDonald’s there is a system, a ‘one right way’ a ‘how to’ for everything, from toasting buns to taking on a new supplier; from mopping the floor to assessing franchisee performance. Yet I don’t remember ever really talking about having systems. They weren’t something we did in addition to the day job; we worked with them every single day, unconsciously. It was just the way things got done.
So I want you to stop thinking about process; I want you to stop fretting about developing systems; and I want you to focus on making ‘the way we do things round here’
SIMPLE LOGICAL REPEATABLE.
At Macs, these were three key ingredients of each and every system that are imprinted on my mind. Three words that encapsulate why McDonald’s systems work:
That’s what makes business systems effective.
The other block I find some people have is that somehow the ‘one right way’ is not for creatives. So I’d like you to think about Masterchef. You’ll recall the episodes when the creative contestants have to go into Michelin star restaurants and cook the chef’s dishes to exactly the same demanding standards of content, taste and presentation. I’ve never heard those chefs go, ‘Oh I’m gonna do it my way’ or ‘I feel hidebound by having to produce this in exactly the same way’. No, they use their skills to deliver the same excellent standards and consistency and take pride in achieving them.
If you don’t watch Masterchef what about Bakeoff. A baker will follow tried and tested methodology, the one right way, for baking the cake to free up their time to try new flavours or to focus on decorating their showstopper. It just makes sense.
Think about an author who has a system for plot outline and development, research, character development, and a schedule to work on certain aspects of the story. A disciplined approach to the basics creates time for the creative story-telling.
And so in business, systems keep the nuts and bolts of your business; your invoicing, purchasing, marketing, recruiting etc in motion, and form a platform for the creative people to ‘do their stuff’. The one right way gives your customers the consistency they love and increases profit, which you’ll love.
And the one right way is always evolving as part of your improvement cycle. So your team come up with a better way as circumstances change and that becomes your new ‘one right way’. So you establish the ‘one right way’, the ‘how to’ with the people doing the work then you regularly review it together, improve it, train it in and off you go again. Your team can then work independently, taking ownership of the task and pride in what they do. And you have the trust in them to get on with driving your business(es) forward or spending more time with your family.
‘Systems are not chains to tie you down, they are wings to help you fly’.
Do one thing: Our Business Efficiency Test will give you an insight into how each of the key systems in your business is operating, and will give you strategies for improving them in a .pdf report. Take the test now, to see how you measure up: https://scorecard.mariannepage.co.uk
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)