During the past year a number of people have told me they found Michael Gerber's book The E-Myth Revisited very stimulating and thought provoking. So I finally got around to buying a copy and have enjoyed reading it.
One of his main themes is the need to have structure in everything you do. Now I know that we all like to think of ourselves as free spirits - and want to be able to come and go as we please - but by having structure you've a methodology for creating dramatic improvements in your daily productivity.
When I think of structure, I'm referring to set policies and procedures. With a policies and procedures, or operations, manual you're stating that "this is how we do it here." And everybody does it the same way.
Take McDonald's for example. They have taken every single process and determined how it is to be done:
* Each burger is to be cooked on the grill for a specific number of minutes.
* A pot of coffee can sit on the burner for a certain number of minutes before it must be poured down the drain.
* The fries can only be in the heater for X-number of minutes before they're thrown away. (McDonald's has even determined how much salt should be sprinkled on the fries and have developed a shaker that disburses a pre-determined amount.)
And what does McDonald's do when you want a soft drink? The counter person places the cup under the dispenser, pushes the small, medium, or large button, and the proper amount of liquid flows into the cup. No muss, no fuss, and no waste.
Each step in every process is itemized in detail, enabling McDonald's to hire high school kids to do all the jobs.
Let me ask you a few questions about your business:
* Do you have a complete script that your people are to follow when they get on the phone?
* Do you have a complete list of Power Questions that MUST be asked of every prospect?
* Do you have a standard proposal that is used by everybody?
* Do you have a script for incoming calls? How do you want people to answer your telephone? What should the caller be told when he is put on hold?
* Do you have standardized procedures for processing orders? Handling complaints? Processing returns?
* Do you have standardized calculations for bonuses, commissions, overrides, and your other compensation programs?
* What processes and procedures does your bookkeeping, accounting, or finance department follow?
* Do you have a corporate dress code? How do you want your employees to look when they visit with customers and prospects. (The NFL just banned the wearing of bandanas because they didn't conform with the player's uniform.)
You're probably asking yourself: "Where is Jeff going with this?"
The reason you need to have standardized processes and procedures is that once you have them you can make changes, modifications & improvements to make them better.
When everything is improvised, you don't have a methodology of keeping track of what works and what doesn't, because you don't do anything the same way twice.
But when you do have a set methodology it's easy to tinker with the process to see if you can get better results and/or performance. Look at everything you do and see how you can standardize. Then you'll be able to start making small changes and improvements that can have dramatic impact on your sales, performance, and income.
This article was submitted by Jeffrey Mayer.