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How to Build Systems For Your Business

Let’s talk about the food service industry to start. Why does someone go to Starbucks, over a local cafe? If you ask them, the person will most likely answer that they know exactly what they are going to be getting. In other words, they can expect consistency. You can go to any Starbucks in the USA, or even the world for that matter, and know exactly how your drink is going to taste. A drink will taste the same no matter what branch you order from. Starbucks is able to achieve this through standardized recipes and systems to make your drink.

Beyond delivering consistent experience to your customer, systems allow your business to run like a well oiled machine. With systems in place to run the day to day, you as the owner are able to focus on higher level activities; allowing you to drive expansion.

What exactly is a system, and what does it look like?

A system is a set of procedures according to which something is done. In our case, the procedures outline the process for completing a task, the tools necessary to do the job, who is responsible for said task, and any necessary strategies to overcome problems that arise. Below we dive into the process to build these systems for your business.

1.) Identify Business Activities

The image outlines the operations cycle and the main systems within every business. Every business is unique in its own way, however they all follow this framework.

  • Lead Generation

    How do you attract customers to your business? What is done to pique their interest?

    Going deeper, what does your marketing process look like? What needs to be done on a monthly basis? How many leads do you need to generate? Etc.

  • Lead Conversion

    What is sales process? How do you turn a prospect into a customer? How many new customers are needed to keep everything running smoothly?

  • Customer Fulfillment

    How is the product or service provided to the customer? What doe the process look like? What is involved?

    Looking deeper at the customer fulfillment most of the back office activities take place here; such as training, hiring, managing, and other activities that keep the company moving.

  • Retention & Referrals

    How do you make your current customers happy; keeping them coming back over and over again? What is the process for getting referrals? How do you maintain contact after you have provided what the customer needed?

Within each of these main systems, you can break down the process for completing the necessary tasks.

Start a word document to brainstorm all of the systems already in place. You currently have systems in place to follow, however they may not be written out so that employees are able to review them and ensure they are meeting expectations.

2.) Break Down These Activities

Now that you have a list of all of the systems within your business, it is time to break them down into the exact process. It is best to start with one system, and complete it before moving onto the next. Slowly building one after another, all of the systems will be built out and put into place.

Pick one system and in a new document for write out the following:

  1. Process:

    The step-by-step sequence that must be followed.

  2. Tools:

    The required equipment, software, or resources.

  3. People:

    Who is needed and identify the responsible party.

  4. Strategies:

    Tips or techniques to go through the process.

Be as detailed as possible. Make it so that any person could be put into this role and get the desired results. The more clear directions are, the less possibility of a misunderstanding.

This is the point when many owners get overwhelmed; know that this will be worth it in the end, but it will take time to build out.

3.) Improve the System

Now that you have a system written out, it is time to see if it can be improved upon. What is the ultimate goal of this specific system? What task does it complete? With this, go through the following to work backwards and improve this system to be efficient.

  1. Delete

    What can you eliminate from the system that is not contributing to the overall goal? Are there unnecessary tasks, tools, people, or strategies that are part of the system right now?

  2. Automate

    Are there tasks in this system that could be automated by software? Something that speeds up the workflow, or compliments the human capital used in this system?

  3. Consolidate

    Do the tasks need to be done as often as they currently are? Could these tasks be batched?

The ultimate goal of this step is to simplify. This helps to ensure that the system operates efficiently and eliminates waste. There is no sense putting out a system that needs to be improved upon.

4.) Test

You have a system written out and refined. Now it is time to test it for real and track how well it works in practice. Sometimes when it is implemented, you will see things that need to be tweaked and adjusted so it runs more smoothly.

Ask your employees what improvements they would suggest to make the system better.

5.) Evaluate & Improve

With the new information collected about the system you’ve build, take time to evaluate it. Make improvements to make it better.

Has it helped to remove bottlenecks? Did it increase efficiency and effectiveness? Does it create consistency in output? What can be changed to make it better.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve completed one system, go and build the next one. Soon your business will be completely systemized and automated, allowing you the freedom to focus on high level tasks and grow your business. You’ll be able to take time off, and come back with everything operating as if nothing had changed.

The documents you create will make up the business’s Standard Operating Procedures. Make sure that they are accessible by employees, and you update them as things change.