Nursing Your Systems

by Shaun R Smith on January 4, 2011

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So you’ve spent time setting up some of the systems needed to run your business.  Maybe you’ve developed a recruiting process, a sales tracking system, or a marketing calendar.  Maybe you’ve cleaned up your books and improved your financial tracking systems, even created a budget.  It’s the beginning of the year and the gyms are full of people making resolutions to change.  However, most of them don’t last two months, let alone a full year.  The systems you spent time building are only valuable if you now use them and maintain them going forward.

Accountability to Use the System

Once you’ve built a new system and begin using it, your productivity will actually go down at first.  It will actually take you and your team slightly longer and slightly more effort than it used to.  This is the dip in the learning curve.  That’s where you get a small negative return on your investment in change before you start reaping the results and rewards.  This is the easiest time to quit and when it takes the most discipline to stick with the new system.

Build some accountability around the use of your systems.  Assign a team member to be responsible for maintaining the integrity of a particular system, and give her a bonus or tie her review to that responsibility.  Hold regularly scheduled standing meetings that use the system you’ve created to guide the meeting or part of the meeting is to keep the system updated.

An Example

One of my clients was having problems with profitability.  The managers were in charge of purchasing and staffing – but they didn’t know how they were doing.  We developed a simple spreadsheet to track the key variables (labor costs and purchases relative to revenue per week).  At our weekly meetings, we review the performance for the previous week and the managers get a small bonus each week if they hit their numbers.  This keeps the managers engaged in the game (and makes it fun for them too) and it keeps the owners on top of the reporting because they’ve made a promise to their staff and without following the system and keeping the information up to date, the managers won’t know where they stand.  A win-win.

The Rewards

In the example above, the business went from cash starved with expenses out of control – to turning a profit.  In only 3 months!

What is it worth to you?  Why go through all this hassle?  What’s the return?

Business success!  Successful business owners know their numbers and have effective systems running their businesses.  Without great systems in place, your company’s growth will be stunted.  Just try one area to start with, measure the results, stick through it past the dip, and watch your business grow.

Photo by: Les Chatfield

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