Jim Hamilton: Sound Processes = A Sound Business
To run a successful business, you need to determine and implement processes that everyone in your company understands.
You pull up to your business at 7:00 a.m. and see that your service trucks have already left or are in the process of leaving to meet their first customers of the day. The parking lot is clean and the morning sun’s reflection off the windows is almost blinding. You walk in the front door and sigh with pleasure at the interior’s pristine condition. Activity in the building is calm and engaging. You wave, with a big smile on your face, to your employees who are answering your constantly ringing phones. Walking down the hall, you nod at the dispatchers, who also wear big smiles. You stop at the break room for your first cup of coffee and grab your favorite bear claw from a full box of fresh pastries. One of your technicians, who was heading out the door for his first job of the day, stops to chat briefly, leaving with a smile and a hand shake. You open your office door to see a large screen with all your company’s KPI’s (key performance indicators) highlighted in green. All the while, you’re thinking, “Is this a great place or what?”
All of a sudden, your alarm clock goes off with a LOUD BUZZ! And you realize this was all a dream.
In reality, you’re dreading the trip into the office because you know there will be fires to put out. You’re thinking, “Why am I always fixing problems? Can’t anyone do anything the way I want?”
If this is you, you need to take a long hard look in the mirror. If you want things to change, you need to change. You might know everything that needs to be done in your business, and how do it. Unfortunately, your employees aren’t you. They don’t know what they don’t know. Without providing written, agree-upon processes for every aspect of your business, you’re likely to repeat that daily routine of frustration and failure – just like Bill Murray in the movie, “Groundhog Day.”
To run a successful business, you need to determine and implement processes that everyone in your company understands, can repeat back to you, and have been demonstrated at least three times successfully. Only then are you and your employees aligned.
Reflect on that for one minute.
Now, ask yourself, how difficult would it be for you to:
- Document your vision for each activity/process
- Demonstrate to every employee each activity/process
- Require each of your employees to comprehend, verbally communicate back to you and demonstrate that they are fully capable of carrying out each process three times to make sure they truly get it.
Success comes from repeating a winning process, over and over again.
Who’s going to create processes for your company?
Creating processes is a process in itself, and it takes a mind-numbing amount of time to articulate each step. Not to mention, you need to ensure that each new process compliments your other processes.
Take, for example, a simple incoming customer call for service. What process have you articulated, written down and trained your call center employees to follow to get the desired result of booking that phone call? What information must you capture to pass off to the dispatcher? What information does the dispatcher need to dispatch the call to the right technician? How does the technician deliver the proper service to the customer? How does the trade administrator process the information coming in daily from the technicians?
The list goes on to include processes for sales, installations, warehouse, payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable, service managers, sales managers, installation managers, installation coordinators, operations managers, owners and the board of directors. That’s a lot of potential processes to put in place.
Imagine for a moment that you have all of that completed. Every person in every position knows exactly what they need to do to win the day. Are you thinking about how wonderful and stress free your life has just become?
Wake up! Don’t you dare relax at this point. Your work is not over! Your job now is to verify that each process is being carried out, as you had envisioned it, every single day. If you take your eye off the ball, your people will take their eyes off the ball.
Earlier in this article, I mentioned the movie “Groundhog Day.” If you haven’t seen the movie, you should, because it perfectly illustrates my point. I want you to viscerally become Bill Murray’s character. If something isn’t working right now, take the steps to improve it day, by day, by day. Eventually, things will fall into place and your people will succeed.