Building Leverage into your Processes

Tools of the Trade - By: Rich Allen
Business Coaching Article | Ten Principles of Leadership

This article will be on Leverage Region and will be focused on how to gain an advantage on your competition through leverage. This article is specifically focused on building leverage into your day-to-day operational processes. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get right to it.

Think about your business and prioritizing those repeatable activities that occur in your business, write them down. We want to be sure that we focus our attention first on the areas of your business that will provide you the biggest bang for the buck. You should have a good feel for the repeating activities that are most critical to your business success.

Now, with your list in hand, we’re ready to dive in. Let’s concentrate on the activities that make up your day-to-day business operations. These should be the ones that matter most to your customers. Why? Because to your customer, how you handle the day-to-day operations of your business defines who you are and what your value is to them. For instance, if you are in the Dry Cleaning business, how you take in dirty laundry from your customers is a critical repeatable process. You have to count the items, know what type of starch, etc. that particular customer prefers, record that you have their clothing, and provide some receipt – all within a matter of minutes so you do not delay your customer.

If you are in the restaurant business, you need to greet your customers in a certain way – one that is consistent with your Value Proposition, determine their preferred seating arrangements, handle the menu and take their order. How you handle these activities will set a tone and a feeling for your restaurant. Can you imagine handling each and every customer who comes to your restaurant differently? How would you feel if every time you went to a certain place of business they treated you differently? Without the certainty of the process, how can you think about creating a “brand” or “feeling”?

Let’s agree that for each and every process in your business, there is a “best” way to get the process done. Why not then have everyone do that same process the same “best” way? I find that most business owners who have a few long-term team members are the least structured and organized in this area. Why? Because they have become so reliant on their long-term employees and their know-how to handle the situation time after time. So what happens when they are on vacation or out sick or worse yet, if they leave unexpectedly for some reason? As the business owner, you must own the processes and own the documentation that supports the processes.

Now, before you shut down and walk away from the idea of putting your processes on paper, let me tell you that this is the first step to building true leverage in your business. Only when you have the activity steps written down so that everyone on your team knows what is expected and everyone is trained on doing the tasks will you have built Leverage into your business. It is the classic definition of “do something once, and benefit from it multiple times”.

Here are some of the more common day-to-day processes you should document, post and train your folks on: receiving inventory, ordering supplies, greeting customers, cleaning the shop, preparing the raw materials, kitting the parts, taking inventory, processing expenses, shipping orders, re-stocking shelves, completing applications, responding to inquiries, recording daily progress,, etc., etc. The list can go on forever!

One of my clients made the decision to write out the step-by-step processes for every activity in his workplace, then he had the document laminated and posted so that it was visible to everyone in the area where the work gets done. Now there is no need for him to tell and re-tell his team how he wants things done. He doesn’t have to spend a lot of time training the new team members. He simply shows them what to look for, tells them to ask questions if there is something they do not understand, and off they go. He spends WAY less time worrying about the outcomes, because he knows the results he gets when his team follows the process. And, as a bonus extra, his customers see him as being a very organized, fully functional business!

So, do you want some of that for your business? If so, then start documenting your process steps. Start with the most critical day-to-day activities in your business. Set the tone for not only WHAT you want done but HOW you expect it to get done. It is your business after all – it is time to act like it – and meanwhile, you will be gaining Leverage through your Processes in ways that your competition will never understand or appreciate.

You’re off! Time to get started turning your day-to-day activities into highly leveraged processes.