“Why Focus on Systems?”
One undeniable difference between having a business and a job is that business doesn’t slow down when you’re not there.
However, your business needs structure for it to become self-sustainable. A well-structured business is never achieved overnight. If you wish to take your business to the next level, all systems should be properly established from the ground up.
Over the years of running The Site Shed podcast, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with hundreds of tradespeople and industry specialists from all over the world. With their help, I’ve been able to customise some frameworks that have been specifically designed for tradies and contractors. By no means is it a destination, but it’s certainly a helpful starting point for most businesses.
Much of this blog has come from my recent conversation with my friend Dave Jenyns from systemHUB and more recently, SYSTEMology. You can tune into the podcast and even watch a recorded tutorial on this page of The Site Shed.
In this post, I’m going to run through a framework that will suit 95% of companies in the trades. In reality, this will easily suit 95% of all kinds of companies. However, we decided to zero down on trades in this article.
This post is perfect for the business owner who wants to:
- Maximize all assets
- Develop a highly functional team
- Keep distance from the day-to-day operations of their business
- Increase efficiency, productivity, and turnover
- Improve consistency and delivery of offering
- Get a much-needed rest
In this article, we’re going to discuss the following.
- Establishing your business’ departments
- Creating an ‘organisational chart’
- Roles and responsibilities
- Where to start
- Creating systems
- Project Management
- Collaboration & contribution
Establishing your business’ departments
Do you know why the presence of systems in your business is very crucial to its growth?
Simply put, breaking the overall business into specific areas make it easier to determine what roles are necessary for each department. Once systems have been established, those roles will be delegated accordingly (as you’re about to see).
In the beginning, most of us start with one department. OURSELVES. However, as we start to think long term, we need to acknowledge that in order to grow and scale our businesses, it’s going to take more than one person to get there.
Over the years, I’ve seen many different types of department structures. Recently, I’ve made some changes to the way I’ve structured my business to simplify it. I’ve also taken that knowledge and framework and applied it to the template that we now sell as a solution to tradies and contractors.
For 95% of trade businesses, this framework will work beautifully.
Some of you may want to add some changes, or separate certain departments, however, feel free to use this as a starting point.
|Sales & Marketing||
|Advertising||Sales Metrics||Sales Records|
When I say you can customise the different areas to suit yourself, this is what I mean.
In general, however, if you follow these three categories, you won’t go too far wrong.
- Admin & Finance
- Sales & Marketing
- Operations & Delivery
Creating an Organisational chart
Once you have your departments figured out, we need to create an ‘Org Chart’. An org chart is a useful tool that helps you ascertain who is in your business and who wears what hat.
The purpose is to provide clarity over who is in the business so that when we get to the next stage, it’s obvious. The next stage is, of course, roles and responsibilities.
Your org chart will include all of your staff, but it will also include contractors. Not everyone in your org chart needs to be an employee. You may also have advisors and suppliers in there.
Roles and Responsibilities
Now we have our departments, we have our org chart created, we now need to assign roles and responsibilities to the members of the org chart.
Gradually learn the habit of NOT creating roles specifically for people. Rather, create roles first and assign people to them afterward.
The reason we do this is that it takes the emphasis off the individual and puts it on the task that has been assigned.
People will come and go from our business, so if you set up roles and assign responsibilities, it makes it a lot cleaner and easier to manage when someone moves on, or someone gets replaced.
Once you have a clear outline of what the roles and responsibilities are for your organisation, it is now time to find the right people to assign them to.
You may hire someone to work from an office, or you might find someone remotely to help you. In many cases, you can find staff from overseas that can fill roles for you. The advantage is they are highly skilled and they enable you to remain price competitive because they’re often not as expensive as local staff.
In our business, we’re lucky enough to have an amazing team, made up of both local and overseas members. It’s a brilliant dynamic.
A handful of the many things you can outsource to someone offshore might include:
- Bookkeeping and payroll
- Marketing and content
- Digital and web
- Admin tasks
The one thing I’d suggest you don’t offshore is anything that requires conversations with customers or leads. Things like answering phones, making follow up calls, etc.
This is certainly not always the case, however having someone answer your phone who’s clearly offshore can occasionally work against you.
Aside from that, the list of what you can offshore is almost endless. As long as you have good systems in place, you should be in safe hands. The key, of course, is having good systems in place. If you have systems that can be followed, then your outsourcing experience will be much less rocky.
Where to start
My friend Dave from SYSTEMology recently taught me that before we make a start on creating systems, it’s paramount to create a ‘Critical Client Flow’ for all of your major services and offerings.
A flowchart will help in making your team realise what steps of that flow need to be systemised first.
The reason we always start there is that those systems are critical to that offering being delivered correctly. We focus on these first, then we move onto the ‘less important’ areas.
A sample of a Critical Client Flowchart. One of the most effective ways of delegating responsibilities in your business.
The critical client flow is simply a drawing that outlines each step in that process. From the source of your leads to the right time you should be asking for a review, every step of systemising your business is properly detailed
So now that we have everything else in line, we can start creating systems knowing that it’s being done in the right order. Most of the problems that I have personally encountered over the years in relation to systems come as a result of the order being out of whack.
It’s also true that if you’re running a small organisation, your need for systems may not be as substantial as a larger company. There’s no point getting bogged down with creating systems if at the end of the day, it’s only you doing the work. You’d just build them to replace yourself with certain things along the way
It’s important to create systems that are detailed. As business owners, we sometimes forget small steps that we simply do out of nature, but these small steps are important to the overall outcome of the given task, so make sure you jot them down.
I like to follow the who, what, why, when and how formulae as it gives it meaning and then explains the process.
So, the framework might look like this:
- Who is this process for?
- What is the outcome?
- Why is it important?
- When should it be followed?
- Enumerate the steps
Video and screenshots to accompany.also try to attach a video recording and annotated screenshots with each one
In order for systems to be carried out correctly, there needs to be some form of accountability. People/teams need to be able to see what the next step is in the equation so that they can check it off as they go. Based on my experience, people perform a lot better when they fully understand the role they play in the system. This can be done by breaking down the process into more detail.
If step 5 of how to answer client calls involves asking for the customer’s name, occupancy, and email address in exact order; How certain are we that whoever answers the call is actually following that procedure correctly?
Project management put simply is, WHO DOES WHAT and WHEN. In this instance, you can provide a list of checkable items that the call taker can check off as they progress through the call.
All you need is a set of questions that goes like this: “Have I asked this already?” If yes – check it off “Have we discussed this already?” If no, put it in the queue as your next topic
Project management tools are not meant to take charge of the task for you. Instead, it is best used to house the steps and from within those steps, provide links to other relevant systems.
Using the example above:
STEP 5 of how to answer the office phone – take down customer details.
The call taker would click on that tab to see the system on how to correctly take down those details. Once it’s done, they can tick it off.
Project management tells the individual what systems to follow at what point.
Technology and tools
Just about a decade ago, most businesses create their operating procedures and systems on printed documents then store them in folders on shelves of their offices.
Thankfully, today, we’re blessed with an array of products and solutions that make all of our information available to us at any time, from anywhere. This technology is called ‘cloud’ and it basically means that instead of your documents being saved on your computer, or on your office server, it now lives on multiple servers located around the world.
Why is ‘the cloud’ so powerful?
- If you lose your computer, it doesn’t matter.
- If your office burns down, none of your data is lost.
- You can access your information from anywhere on the planet that has internet.
- You can give certain people, certain permissions which gives you a lot of control over your IP (intellectual property).
- Cloud servers are generally extremely secure, therefore your data is highly protected.
Here at Tradie Web Guys | The Site Shed, we currently use a program called Google Sites to house our systems. It’s a great product that is part of Google’s G Suite, which is starts at less than $50/year.
For project management, we use a combination of ASANA and Podio. They’re both great, it just depends on what you’re using them for.
There are loads of programs available. I’d normally recommend Google Sites and Asana as a starting point as they’re affordable and awesome (here’s an article I wrote on Google’s G Suite). However, there are some other great products around too that offer many more features and benefits, like SystemHUB and NextPond.
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Collaboration, contribution & improvement
Being able to establish the systems of your business is something to be proud of. However, if no one is using it, then it’s worthless.
Getting your team to buy into the process is key and the best way to encourage their involvement is by involving them. Following processes that they have created is often a lot easier and more effective than you telling them to do something.
If they have a vested interest and input, they’re likely to feel more accountable. Also, you need to be realistic. If they’re the ones that are doing the work, they’re probably going to have a better idea than you anyway.
If I wanted a system created on how to enter the clients’ details into the system, I would record a tutorial of me doing the task, then I would have one representative, either locally, or from abroad, to turn it into a system for everyone involved.
You don’t have to spend all of your time getting caught up in day-to-day operations. Remember, it’s all about freeing you up. We don’t want to be adding another task to your list of things to do.
The bottom line is, if we’re trying to grow our businesses, we need structure. Structure and organisation come in many shapes and sizes. However, if we’re talking about growing a team and maintaining a standard, you need to make a decision.
You can train and retrain staff and probably still miss a load of things. On the other hand, you can systemise your business so there’s consistency throughout all stages of growth and development. The purpose of this post is to get you thinking about how you can start building a valuable asset into your business that can one day set you free.
Feel free to take the framework from above and make it your own