This week I found myself needing to use a different car for a while. Like anything “new” to me, I usually have to fumble and bumble my way around the details – radio buttons, cruise control, mirrors, etc… It takes me a good 30 minutes of frustration before I get flustered enough to open the glove box and read the manual…
The frustrating systems in the car – from the XM channel listing to the Bluetooth to the cruise control – all became quote simple once I looked in the right place. Turns out everything in the car is designed to be simple – regardless of the haphazard approach I was taking to figure it all out.
All the “bells and whistles” in the world don’t add value to us until we know how to use them effectively. The car had some amazing features, and even the common features were still pretty cool on this new car.
I was reminded that we are surrounded by systems that make our lives so much easier and satisfying – from air conditioning, appliances, plumbing, electricity, and many, many more. The beauty of a functional system is that it just happens – no real thought or invention required. We purchase, install, and get out of the way, until it breaks and then we apply the repair or replacement process.
This should be true for the “systems” in your small business. The more functional systems are in place, the more the processes will run without distraction and without having people reinventing wheels. These systems include service systems, marketing systems, retention systems, staffing systems, performance management systems, and more.
A key point here is that the air conditioning unit is NOT the system; it’s a tool in the AC system. Just like post cards are not marketing systems, but rather a tool in a marketing system. Until you build a system around your tools, you simply have a bunch of tools but nothing to apply them with. I can have 20 hammers, but that doesn’t make me a carpenter.
Build systems around your tools, and those systems should include:
- Process owner – who is accountable for the system, reporting is progress, success, and return on investment
- Documented process – who does what, when, how often
- Expectations on bottom line – what will this system produce and how do we measure that production
Systems drive efficiency – and efficiency drives profitability…
How effective are your systems? Can you list all the systems in your business? How does that compare with what your revenue goals are? How can you improve your systems today?