Why Systems Are Critical to Your Business Part 2

Keeps the owner in line

I don’t know about you, but I like to change things, update them, and try something new from time to time. As the owner, you may like to tinker, or you decide which part of the system you feel like using that day. As the owner, you have to be the example and follow the procedures yourself if you want your staff to follow them.

Many years ago in my service business, I went out to do an on-site presentation for a prospective client. I assumed that the client wouldn’t buy and did not write up a proposal. Instead, I just quoted a verbal price and left. Sometime later, the prospect called to have the work done. My salesperson looked high and low for the paperwork and finally in frustration asked the prospect if she was absolutely sure we had done an on-site consultation.

“Oh yes” she said. “A man drove up in a Lexus, looked around and told me how much it would be!” Of course my sales agent knew exactly who she was talking about—me! The owner—the one who decided not to follow the system that day. And of course there’s another lesson there too. Don’t judge a prospect. Do the proposal!

If you like to change things around and you have a team, they will be confused if you don’t inform them beforehand. Customers may also become confused. When you change something, be sure to communicate it and update the system.

A consistent service experience

When you have a system, the customer knows exactly what to expect. McDonald’s is the “poster child” for systems because customers can get the same hamburger in Tokyo as they can in Paducah, Kentucky. It may not be the best hamburger, but it’s the same hamburger. It’s consistent because they have a system.

Takes less of the owner’s time

The idea behind building systems is so you have more time. If you are “reinventing the wheel” every day because there is no system in place for your team to follow, you end up doing everything yourself. Ultimately, you want to streamline your business so you can have more time to pursue your life goals.

As I write this section, I have been traveling for almost three weeks. It’s July 4th, and my wife and I are at our little beach condo in Florida. My staff knows what to do. They don’t need me. We were in Australia for almost two weeks, and I didn’t have a phone with me. My wife asked me about ten days into the trip, “Have you talked to your office?” I said, “Uh, no.” “Don’t you need to check in with them?” she pressed. “Uh, no…they know what to do. Remember I have a turnkey business.” “Oh that’s right,” she said.

One of my coaching clients built his business from almost nothing to over $2 million per year—and he takes fourteen vacation weeks each year and travels all around the world. It can be done. Now please understand that you don’t want to be irresponsible. You still have a responsibility as the owner of that company. You must make sure that your managers are leading properly and that things are being implemented properly.

I liken it to investment property that is managed by someone else. You own the property (and therefore have responsibility), but you don’t have to do the day-to-day management.

Another caution is not to exit too soon. I have another client who did not have the right team; and although his business was profitable and he was able to travel a great deal, he began to travel continuously and things began to fall into disrepair.

A saleable business

Finally, would you like to sell your business for a lot of money one of these days? What if one day you could sell your business and retire on the proceeds? How would that be? I have found that there are two responses to this question. The first one is, “No! I love what I do!” And the fact is that many times the work we do in our business is a ministry—it’s our expression—or perhaps we love the technical work we do (or some other part of the work “in” the business).

If that is your response, you still need systems in your business! Here’s why. What if you had to sell your business? A friend of mine has a hereditary kidney condition that will one day take his life. It took his brother’s life. As far as he knows, it is inevitable.

The problem is that his current business depends on him! He is a genius at what he does, but it isn’t a turnkey system. So, he has been feverishly building another company that will help him reach his most important life goal: to leave his family with the finances they need to live comfortably.

You may not want to sell your business right now. But sooner or later, you will “leave the building,” as we all do! Whoever takes over that business will need a system. And if you have to sell it for some reason, you can.

The other response I get to the question “Would you like to sell your business for a lot of money one of these days?” is a resounding “YES!” Well, here’s the bad news: first, your business isn’t worth much if it depends on you. Second, an investor (someone who has the kind of money you probably want for your business) doesn’t want your 24-hour-7-day-a-week JOB!

They want a set of keys.

They want a set of keys that they can take and turn the crank on the predictable, profitable, turnkey money machine that you have created. They want to be able to flip the ignition switch and have it run as good for them as it does for you.

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