Many times, when a new owner starts a business, there is no lack of passion, drive or motivation; what is usually lacking is the operational side of the business that ensures day-to-day performance is maintained over time. This explains the allure of franchising organizations; it puts focus on the small, unsexy details of a business to ensure optimum standards and repeatability, so a playbook inherited from a franchisor can be of great value.
Nevertheless, we believe there is room for both attentive owner/operators and franchise organizations to thrive in our current industry space with an increased focus on operations … but how?
At the end of the day, we exist in a customer service focused industry and our process creation should center around this theme. Begin with the end in mind, the customer. While a whole series of articles could be written on this topic alone, I’ll attempt to give some general guidelines for process creation regardless of which area of business you choose to focus on, starting with the policy or process itself.
Write it down: When you are just starting a business, it is realistic to expect your policies and procedures might be rhetorical and not written. However, to hold an employee, contractor or even yourself accountable, they must be written, accessible and reviewable. No one starts a business with a completed playbook or perfect policies, but it is important to create them, nevertheless. Download a template, start with an employee handbook, customize it to your schedule and expectations for the business and expand this theme into other areas of business. If your processes are not recorded and measured, they cannot be reviewed and improved.
Training and implementation: The successful adaptation of any operational process requires training. Some of the best brands in the business are known for their repeatability and quality across locations – this only happens with standardized training for all staff. As the owner or manager of a small business, the responsibility to create and maintain operational standards falls on you. Create a training checklist for all staff, then cross-train and review at scheduled intervals.
Finally, review and refocus: Any operational process is only as good as its worst failure, meaning there is no perfect process – they exist to make the outliers easy to recognize and eliminate. Every process has to be reviewed for applicability and updated as information changes over time. Mapping processes is the hard part; once you have accomplished this for your business, set aside scheduled time with your management staff to review core processes. This is how you will continually improve performance. Don’t fear failure, but be concerned with a failure that is repeated. Franchise organizations are valuable because the optimization process is ingrained into daily life and is a commodity worth paying for; but it’s not a secret sauce. Take the time and effort, regardless of your business model, to ensure that you are running on all cylinders. Your attention to detail and consistency over time will set you apart from the pack.
Don’t fear failure, be concerned with a failure that is repeated.