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Systems Rule Bathurst, Do They Rule Your Business?

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Systems Rule Bathurst, Do They Rule Your Business?

Too many business owners and their teams moan and groan about the rules and systems (or lack thereof) in their workplace.  Consequently, they’re ignored or dismissed as non-important.  And as a result, the business and team continue to flounder because whether we like it or not, systems are essential for success.  Don’t believe me? Watch Bathurst.

My Dad and godfather are avid Holden supporters who flagged many years ago at Lakeside in Brisbane. So each year I settle in for another great day of skill, excitement and hopefully a full Podium win for Holden.

This year, I got that result but I also had heartache as my favourite driver Craig Lowndes exited far too early with mechanical difficulties.  This meant his day turned from chasing his dream of winning the Peter Brock trophy, his mentor and friend on the 10th anniversary of his death; to simply driving each lap to finish in the best position possible for championship points.

I also saw Rick Kelly, a driver often cursed at Bathurst, lose his radio communication after lap 1 so he couldn’t talk to the crew.  This meant finding alternative ways to signal what was happening as he drove alongside Pit Straight including flashing his lights and turning on his indicators.

So Bathurst got me thinking. There are so many simple systems happening throughout the race, what would happen if there weren’t any?  One answer continued to spring to mind…   crashes and injuries because SAFETY is paramount.  But it’s more than that and as I delved further, I realised there’s 7 reasons why rules and systems govern Bathurst.

1. Risk Management

The governing body and teams establish rules to ensure driver and crew safety including speed limits in Pit Lane, fire suits worn by Pit Crew, redressing correctly on the track and not-negotiable situations which bring out an automatic Safety Car.  Any breaches result in driver infringements which can cost you the race as Jamie Whincup discovered.

2. Consistency

All drivers, crew and management need clear understanding about what needs to be done, how, when and by whom.  Even though drivers know what to do when they get in the car, they are focused on getting quickly back onto the track so you’ll hear instructions on the radio: Do up your belt, put in your radio, pump the brakes, watch your speed to ensure compliance with safety procedures and team systems.

3. Calmness

Under excessive stress and tension, systems bring clarity and calmness to any situation e.g. ‘Only fuel to go then you’re away, yellow flag at turn 2 can’t overtake’.

4. Adaptability

Anything can and does happen at Bathurst so documentation and systems provide not only the facts about what’s happening e.g. who’s pitting now, how many laps has the co-driver done; but helps determine what each team does in the uncontrollable situation of a safety car.  Deciding whether to pit or not can make or break the race result.

5. Teamwork

It’s a highly stressful environment especially if a driver loses time due to a slow pit, demonstrated by Rick Kelly who communicated to his crew boss that he had worked his guts out to get track time only to lose it in the pits.  But Bathurst success is not because of the driver – if the crew, owners and drivers don’t all work together, no matter how good a driver you are, you won’t win the Great Race.

6. Communication

There needs to be clear and concise communication between drivers and crew so when they pit, everyone knows exactly what to do.  If a driver uses an unknown term to describe what’s happening in the car, this will only ensure a longer pitstop as they struggle to find the cause and solution.

7. What if

Bathurst success is often determined by how quickly and accurately you adapt to a crash or unexpected mechanical challenges so crews document procedures to multiple ‘what if’ scenarios to be as prepared as possible for whatever comes their way.  If it wasn’t for the multiple ‘old school’ backup plans when they lost the radio including chalk signs and a handheld radio in the car to at least hear from the crew about track conditions, Rick Kelly and Russell Ingall would’ve been out of the race after about lap 10.

What’s this got to do with business?  Everything!  Documenting how your business operates (what’s in your head), knowing your numbers and thinking ahead of your clients and competition are critical to success. 

So what’s ruling your business? Chaos or streamlined systems?

If you’re not sure,  take the Bathurst test for your business:

  • Documented procedures for every task
  • Weekly check of the numbers to ensure cashflow and profitability
  • Back up plans developed for when things go wrong,  technology fails or external factors impact on the business
  • Team members have clearly documented roles, focus and KPI expectations
  • Meeting client needs is at the forefront when developing products, services and procedures
  • Procedures are reviewed at least every six months for relevance, accuracy and simplification.

If you don’t have ticks in every box, then you have work to do for a Bathurst Business which is driven by systems, quality, communication and success.  As most businesses don’t invest the time and money needed to achieve this success, it really is a simple choice: Embrace systems and watch your profit and productivity flourish or Ignore at your peril.

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