I recently wrote a post on Avoiding 8 Business Growth Blunders. I want to delve deeper into this subject, specifically on the topic of business blunder #3: forgetting to implement a system and repeatable process. Entrepreneurs like you and I can avoid this major business blunder as we aim to grow a profitable business for ourselves, and I’d like to discuss how.
You may recall the advice I offered in my previous post specific to #3 …
“Develop a business process and set up procedures and systems in your business so that you can generate predictable, consistent and replicable results without having to reinvent the wheel every time. Implementing a system will help you become more efficient with your inputs of time and efforts, while exponentially increasing the outputs of sales.”
Now, I want to share with you my blueprint for implementing a system and repeatable process that you can apply specifically to your business.
Step 1. Take inventory of your tasks
Take complete inventory of everything you do for your prospects and clients.
Literally write out a list of tasks, activities and to do’s that are part of your client product buying and service engagement model. There are 3 parts to the model, and I have included examples corresponding to each part here:
Attraction – this includes activities that you partake in to generate leads and sales opportunities. It includes things like: online marketing tasks, lead nurturing activities, networking conversations, and partnership development activities.
Engagement – this includes everything that you do to create connections with your prospects, build rapport and relationships with your clients, and encourage trust and build credibility with your prospects. This could be things like having conversations, delivering presentations, managing expectations, holding meetings, providing support, etc.
Retention – this includes all the things you do to add value for your existing customers, how you foster community, what you do to build long-term relationships, how you collect feedback, etc.
Use this model and these suggestions as your guide. Once you start thinking about how you are specifically attracting, engaging and retaining customers in your business your list of tasks and activities will become apparent.
Step 2. Turn your tasks into a process
We don’t want to re-invent the wheel every time we do something, right? It’s really not in our best interest because we (i) waste valuable time (billable hours) and (ii) we are inefficient with our use of time (time better spent on revenue generating activities, not administration).
You already know there are certain tasks and activities you repeat all the time. So the key is to identify the ones that you do more than once and create a repeatable process you can follow each time. To illustrate, here is an example based on using a checklist as the chosen tool to create a process. There are others (ie) flow chart or mind map. Find a tool that works best for you.
I have a coaching client who has a particular list of tasks she executes every time she engages with a new client (this falls into the Engagement part of her model, refer to step 1). So, she created a ‘new client welcome’ process using a checklist with all of the activities included in her process. Every time she engages with a new client she refers to her checklist. To illustrate, here is a partial snapshot of her checklist:
New Client Welcome Process
- Create new client file in database
- Store signed contract in client file
- Dispatch first invoice
- Invite client to connect on LinkedIn
- Add client to newsletter subscription database
- Prepare and mail client welcome package
- Write thank you letter to client referrer
You could literally create a checklist or flow chart for anything and everything. Once you get the hang of it and begin using this as a business tool, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. It will make things so much easier for you!
Step 3. Standardize, organize and automate
Organizing and scheduling your process to help you implement/execute your tasks is a key component of generating predictable, consistent and replicable results for your business. Here are some ways to help you do this.
- Standardize your documents and create templates.
Create a re-usable template or standardized structure for anything that you do more than once.
You may end up with a number of different templates for your activities, which is fine. The majority of information on the template doesn’t change, and you edit to include minor customization relating to a particular client or situation as required. The types of things you can standardize include; proposals, contracts, invoices, letters, newsletters, promotional material, presentations, voice call scripts, etc.
- Develop an organizational strategy for your information.
Organize and store information in a logical manner so you can search and locate what you need quickly and easily.
What kind of clusters of information makes sense? What patterns do you notice? Organize your data based on how you typically use it. This could be alphabetically, by client name, by date, by function, by activity, etc.
This can be done really simply using Excel or with a database program like Maximizer. Other ideas…you can create a hierarchical structure for organizing data on your desktop computer using folders; you can use an old-fashioned filing cabinet, or store email within specific mailboxes. Another example is using an online or desktop calendar for scheduling tasks and reminders. There are many different ways to do this digitally, virtually or traditionally.
- Automate your process to generate actions based on specific triggers or rules.
Determine which tasks on your list can be automated and which cannot. Automate all the ones you can.
Some activities and tasks lend themselves quite well to automation. If you use a database or CRM, you can set up rules and triggers to automatically generate actions. (ie) When a prospect becomes a client, an invoice is automatically dispatched. Another example of automation is to sort email using different mailing list rules, so that when you receive an email from x client, it is automatically redirected to x client’s mailbox.
Please share the tips, tricks and tools that you use to create a system and repeatable process for yourself – we want to know! Please leave your comments in the box below, or join the discussion on Facebook.