Over the last few weeks, I have been working on a big new project; it’s…
How Stopping for Two Hours Can Reap Massive Rewards
We all know and probably say at least once a day, “Time is money.”
So how often do you stop and review your systems and processes to see if by streamlining, simplifying or removing any duplication, you could get back say an hour a day? For most business owners, they know they need to invest in documenting and maintaining their systems and processes. But because they often don’t know where or how to start or think it’s a waste of time; it is ignored or put on the back burner as something that will be done ‘when I’m not busy’. Result: It’s never done. It is this thinking which is costing Small Businesses productivity and thus profitability every single day.
Systems are the foundations for a business’ success so I wanted to share one story of how stopping for two hours can reap massive rewards:
I was working with one of my clients, a registered training organisation, and it came out in our chat that one of their biggest frustrations was their enrolment process. It just took what seemed like forever, and they felt they had simplified and streamlined it as much as possible. Yet it still wasn’t working. Something was wrong, but they didn’t know what which meant they couldn’t find a solution. If you don’t know the real cause of a problem, you can’t truly solve it, you only band-aid it, and it will, of course, come back and bite you, often bigger or worse than ever down the track.
I suggested we spend two hours with the team on documenting the enrolment process on Post-it notes to see if it really was as simple as possible. The team consisted of three people, two involved with the daily operations and the business owner. Now I know many of you may be muttering, “Post-it notes? Why not use an app or at least the laptop? Move into the future Tamara.”
But, I am a proud pen and paper girl. I also know the power of Post-it notes on a wall; it’s a visual that everyone can see, and when you’re documenting processes and trying to work out consecutive steps and linkages, Post-it notes are quick and easy to move on a wall or butchers paper.
And so, I started asking some initial questions like:
- How does a student enrol – online form, email, website enquiry, phone call?
- Who reviews the form to see if they are eligible?
- Who approves the enrolment?
- When and how do they pay their fees?
- How long does an enrolment form take to process?
This information started to build up the Post-it notes, some of which were steps, some had notes about who would do the task, relevant templates, etc. At times the discussion stalled when team members were thinking about who does what and when, so to help the brainstorming, I asked my famous systems question I ask all my clients, “And now what do you do?”
Along the way, different team members were starting to see duplicate processes or steps which were in the wrong place and wanted to ‘fix’ things there and then. But I said we will get to that once we have documented down exactly how it happens now. The reason I do that is because they are two different cognitive processes. Firstly, you have to remember what you do automatically by habit in the exact order you do it, and once this is down, then you do the next step of seeing:
- What’s in the wrong order?
- What’s being duplicated and shouldn’t be?
- What is no longer needed?
- Who is actually doing each step?
So after only two hours of brainstorming and reviewing all the enrolment steps, this was the result:
- Enrolment process reduced from 25 steps to 8 steps.
- Saved over three hours in administration time.
- $5,500 saving for one process.
- $26,000 productivity saving for the year on one system.
Imagine if you just stopped for two hours to review one process?
How much time could you save which could then be channelled into gaining more business and spending time with family and friends? So how many processes and systems do you have in your business?
A lot I’m sure so here’s my challenge to you:
Spend two hours a week reviewing one process for the next 52 weeks. By the end of the year, not only will you have clearly documented your business operations to give you a simpler business for both you, your team and your clients but you will have, without a doubt, increased your productivity and profitability. And if you think you don’t have two hours a week spare, remember, it’s all about the small gains along the way that add up.
So, what’s it costing you now not to invest in building your system, and thus building a brick business which is simple, profitable and one you actually love.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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