Category

Systems

delegate

Don’t Abdicate

By | Accountability, Hiring, Leadership, Leverage, Operations, Systems | No Comments

Ever delegate something only to discover it never gets done? How long did it take to discover that the task was not completed? Was it because the person failed or because you did not create a way to follow-up and make sure it was done?

As a leader you have a tendency to delegate it and forget it, without responsibility or follow-up. Michael Gerber in his book The E-Myth, calls this abdication. It’s a roll of the dice if it gets completed.

Delegate, Don't abdicate wither it wont get done, or it wont get done right.Some of the first things you’ll want to delegate as a leader are the things you don’t like to do or that you don’t do well. Because you don’t like the task or don’t know how to complete it ourselves, you hope that the task gets completed without your involvement.

This is why a system of follow-up and accountability becomes essential to leading your team. You’ve heard “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” – if you are not measuring the progress of your delegated tasks, you are sure to be blind-sided by the fact that it was never completed.

If you are ready to start delegating and having the task done right and on time? Get on the call here.


Getting It Done

By | Hiring, Leadership, Leverage, life style, Operations, Stress Management, Systems | No Comments

If you were to watch my 10-year-old son eat, you would think we only fed him a few times a week. He often acts like he is starving to death. He will sometimes shove so much food in his mouth, he can’t completely close it. He is in such a hurry to eat he makes a mess of his clothes and the table, chokes, and actually takes longer to eat.

As entrepreneurs, we tend to do the same thing with our to-do lists and the commitments that we make to customers, suppliers, our families and to ourselves. We take on so much, we end up making a huge mess, burn ourselves out and take longer to get the list done.

However, much of this “over-stuffed to-do list” is born out of necessity. In order to stay competitive and fulfill expectations, we commit to early mornings, late nights, skipped meals and then neglect our personal well-being and relationships.

Eventually we have to get it done, and getting it done requires time. I see many of my clients suffer from the over-commitment dilemma. There is one solution, however, that is the most over-looked: Delegation.

The problem that most entrepreneurs have with delegation is that they wait too long before they begin thinking about it – and when they do, they do not have the right people or systems in place to ensure that the job is done as well or better than the leader herself would have done. The result is that it just seems easier for you to do it yourself – creating the vicious cycle of overwhelm to start again.

Break the cycle:

The first step is to create a list of everything you are currently doing yourself. Next, sort this list into three categories: outsource, hire, and keep.

The question now becomes what can you afford, both emotionally and financially, to remove from your list and forever place them on the “outsource” and “hire” lists?

Ask yourself this question: What will allow you to increase your cash flow the most?

Is it someone to do the technical work that will allow you to do more bids? Is it sales that will allow you to do more of the technical work that can only be done with a license or specialized training? Or is it the office work like bookkeeping, data entry or answering the phone that will allow you to generate more sales?

Get off the overwhelm cycle here:

 

contact your clients directly and use a CRM

Make the Call

By | Contact Manager - CRM, Follow-through, Marketing, Systems | No Comments

No matter how much advertising, direct mail, networking, social media, search engine optimization, or email marketing you do, it will never be as successful as you would like without directly contacting your customers.

Marketing can create interest, expose a need or even generate demand. It can help you create buzz, hype and awareness. However, people prefer to buy from people – especially if it’s a big ticket item. You may make a few sales, but without direct one-on-one contact, most people won’t follow through to the purchase.

contact your clients directly and use a CRM

So what does that personal follow through look like?

At the very least, it includes a phone call. At the very most, it means many phone calls and several face-to-face interactions.

Just like everything else, there is a system to it. In any business, having a database of leads, customers and referral partners is a necessity. These database programs are called Contact Relationship Management (CRMs).

But here is the catch; they only work if you use them appropriately. Creating tasks and managing the contacts is your responsibility. Following up on tasks and making the calls can drastically increase your sales and shorten the decision-making process for your customers.

Here are a few systems that i have used or my clients have found useful for keeping track of who to contact, when and in what way:

 

Zoho.com/CRM
Price: Free for up to three users and limited features.
Overview: A simple system that allows you to move contacts from leads to clients. Create tasks and simple campaigns. There are premium levels that allow you to add

other features.

 

Insightly.com
Price: Free for up to three users, 200MB of storage or 2,500 contacts
Overview: Another simple, straight-forward system for keeping contacts. This is specifically designed to use with Gmail, Google Contact and Google Calendar – but only for paid use. Integration with Mail Chimp is also available for email

marketing.

 

SalesForce.com
Price: $5/user/month
Overview: This is the mother of all on-line CRMs and the most used. With the basic level of service there are some great features available at their lowest level including email integration with Outlook, Gmail and Google Apps, Mobile access, and Content library. Integrations with Constant Contact and iContact are available at premium levels as well.

ACT
Price: $201.99 one-time download.
Overview: This is the ORIGINAL contact managing software. ACT is very robust and best for hard-core marketers. Very customizable and very powerful. Integrates with most emails and allows you to create a custom experience from lea
d generation to sale and sale follow-up. Additional add-ons available for email marketing and mobile use. There is a large learning curve to ACT, however.

 

InfusionSoft
Price: $199.00/month
Overview: Another premium CRM that allows you to automate much of your on-line and email m
arketing as well as follow-up calls. The power of InfusionSoft is the ability to create multiple lines of marketing processes that sends predictable and customized emails based on how the lead/customer responds.

 

If you are not “Tech Savvy,” using a simple note-card system (like the OneCard System) can be just as effective. There are fewer bells and whistles, but it is inexpensive, simple to use and easy to set up.

 

Find out which is best for you and how to set it up:

 

cerate systems for what you love

Don’t Forget to Live

By | Leadership, life style, Systems | No Comments

hammockWhat an exciting week! I had the opportunity to spend a few days in just outside of Yosemite for a family reunion.

Now before you start to yawn and think it’s another opportunity to hear your ninety-something uncle Frank talk about how life was before they invented paper while passing copious amounts of gas – this was 20 great people and their children ranging in ages from a few months to 21 years old that I happen to be related to. I’m sore from the softball, basketball and invented games that have yet to be named.

I came away with a great reminder about my business. My business is designed to support my life – not the other way around.

So here is a call to action for you: Make sure you have time to enjoy the people you love or do the things you like most.

If there is business that MUST be done while you are off – it means developing systems in order to make sure the team members and technology can handle the load for you.

 

Ready for some time off? Click here

Job Training

Teaching Systems

By | Accountability, Leadership, Operations, Systems | No Comments

One of my first potential clients several years ago mentioned that she and her husband were considering hiring an employee and might need me. I had a hard time getting in touch with them for a month. When I finally had a chance to speak with her, she let me know they had already hired someone and fired them. “I’m never hiring anyone again,” she informed me.

 

Job TrainingAs I dug deeper, I discovered a few key elements that she missed in the hiring and training process. She told me that this employee had mishandled invoicing and collecting payment (in a rather suspicious nature), was chronically late for service calls and didn’t follow through well with clean-up and other key follow-through items.

 

I know I beat this drum often. Without a doubt, it boiled down to systems and the system to train a new employee to follow the systems.

 

  1. The business owner had not verified the quality of the employee’s work. The work they were performing was very technical. Because the employee had several years of experience in the field, the owner had assumed the employee would do well. A ride-along in the interview process and an expectation for the new employee to shadow in the beginning would have saved them time and money.
  2. They did not develop a clear system that created double-checks and accountability in how invoicing and payments were to be handled. They expected the employee to get them the payments “when he could” since he would sometimes be on a service call until late into the evening. There were too many opportunities to lose payments or simply “borrow” some of it for a beer on his way home.
  3. The owner had not developed any level of clear “service standard.” When an employee has not been given clear expectations and no process to be held accountable to them, they create their own standards.  

 

In order to create an incredible experience for your customers, consistency in your systems coupled with a system for training and a system of accountability will create an incredible operation and value for your customers. Ultimately this creates value for you when its time to leverage and sell your business.

Keep your bottle-neck full

Drum Buffer Rope

By | Cost Controls, Operations, Systems | No Comments

Keep your bottle-neck fullMy Introduction to Process Management professor should have retired 20 years before I sat in his class. This was a required course and he was not only quirky, but a little disconnected as well.

 

However, the one concept that clicked with me – and something that I have used often – is how to improve operations through a simple concept:

 

“Drum-Buffer-Rope”

 

I have a close friend who is an industrial engineer. I am sure he will be irked by my over-simplification below.

 

Ideally, you should eliminate bottlenecks. However, there are many times when a bottleneck is outside of your control or ability.

 

To make the most out of a bottleneck, you have to keep it as full as possible without creating too much back log.

 

  1. Identify the bottleneck and decide what it’s highest speed is.
  2. Set the rest of the system to only work as fast as the bottleneck rhythm (Drum)
  3. Create a “lead-time” on the work needed (Buffer)
  4. Only send enough work through the system that will pull the work through the bottleneck at a consistent rate. (Rope)

 

Simply put: know your bottlenecks and maximize their operation. It will eliminate wasted time and expense.

pie

Aren’t Numbers Fun?

By | Accounting, Cost Controls, Finance, Systems | No Comments

Business Numbers matterNumbers, numbers, numbers.

 

Hate them or love them, they run our world. Material wealth is based on a number assigned to the value of your assets and the revenue they produce. How we feel about something is often reduced to a scale between 1 and 10. Even in social media, you base your “acceptance” on the number of likes, shares or re-tweets.

 

So what numbers matter to you?

 

Some numbers you should track even outside your accounting books. Some numbers many businesses need to keep include sales effectiveness (sales calls/store visitors, positive responses, objections, etc.) or quality measures (Re-dos, refunds, material waste, labor hours) but are often not kept.

 

iContact (the email provider I use for this newsletter) provides me with numbers about how many open the email, how many click through, or how many unsubscribe. I use this feedback to know what content you would prefer to read, how to format it and the best time to deliver it.

 

The challenge with keeping numbers is establishing a discipline to:

  1. Record the numbers
  2. Analyze the number to make sense and
  3. Use the analysis to improve your systems.

 

What do you need to know in order to improve your business?

Thou Shalt Know Thy Numbers

Thou Shalt Know Thy Numbers

By | Accounting, Cost Controls, Follow-through, Leadership, Strategic Planning, Systems | One Comment

Thou Shalt Know Thy NumbersDo you watch Shark Tank?

 

Let me give you the basic premise if you don’t. Entrepreneurs and inventors present their ideas to a panel of investors. They are then grilled about their business (or lack thereof) and then investors bid for investment in the business. Sometimes you see an amazing deal made – and sometimes the entrepreneur walks away with nothing.

 

One of the biggest “red flags” is when an entrepreneur doesn’t know his/her numbers. Here they are, in front of big-dollar investors asking for large investments and they don’t have a handle on how their business performs on important financial measures.

 

This is no different than any other business leader –whether you are looking for an investor or not.

 

As I work with my clients, I often see that they manage their accounts based on the number in their bank balance. They cannot tell you what they spend on marketing and what the return is. They don’t have ratios for measuring their COGS, supplies, or other variable expenses.

 

The numbers are not there for the IRS or to know how much money you made. The numbers exist for you to know how to improve your business from the inside and increase your profit.

 

The key is understanding your P&L and your Cash Flow Statement. Make sure you know the difference between the two and how to review both of them.

 

If you already know what they mean, review them. Often.

Manage your stress with personal systems

Stress

By | Motivation, Stress Management, Systems, Time Management | No Comments

I am just as guilty of letting stress get to me as anyone else. Which is why I am really looking forward to tomorrow. Leslie has some great insights into being a more effective leader by being a more whole person.

 

We all have ways that our stress affects us. I know that stress sabotages me with:

  • Staying up late to Manage your stress with personal systemswind-down. I then am too tired to exercise the next day and overeat in search of more energy
  • Losing my temper with my family – particularly with my kids
  • Distracting me from giving my full attention to the most important things – causing my wife to shutdown after the third empty “uh-huh” because I am not really listening

And

  • Looking for an escape in entertainment instead of taking care of my home.

Many times we create our own storm of stress. I teach my clients when they complain of this to develop personal systems to minimize their self-imposed stress.

 

In case it helps you, here are my biggest sources of stress and how I minimize them.

 

Problem: Setting unrealistic deadlines for myself.

Solution: I try to add about a fourth more time than what I really think.

 

Problem: Allowing the easy jobs to take all my time without touching the most important.

Solution: Plan the day before I start and schedule a time for the most important tasks

 

Problem: Failure to delegate.

Solution: This is part of “planning my day”. The things that need to get done, but don’t need me directly are determined while I am planning.

 

Problem: Not living in the moment

Solution: I have to eventually unplug and engage when it is time for my family, volunteering, or personal time. A deep breath and an intentional re-focus brings me back.

 

So what stresses you out and how do you handle it? Please share with us below!

Have you leveraged yourself through technology yet?

Leveraging Technology

By | Leverage, Operations, Systems | No Comments

Today, you’re getting this email – however, I wrote it Monday night.

 

You see, I took advantage of Spring Break this week and disappeared into the back woods with my kids for several days. I would like to report that it was great and that we got back late Thursday, but it hasn’t happened yet. I took advantage of the scheduling aspect of the iContact email system I prefer to use. 

 

Have you leveraged yourself through technolgy?One aspect of leverage that we often overlook, is that of technology.

 

Technology cannot take the place of intelligent design or good people. But with the proper application, it can take care of menial and repetitive tasks and give you freedom to pursue other avenues.

 

However, there are those who will spend all their time trying to find an easier way to do it through technology – when it would be faster to simply do it.

 

Which camp are you in?