Burger King has the greatest burgers in the world.
…said no one ever. We can probably all agree that BK’s food is mediocre, something we value more for convenience rather than nutritional value.
So if their food is just okay, how is Burger King one of the most successful food franchises in the world?
Like every other large-scale corporation, Burger King has air-tight systems in place that allow them to operate hundreds of thousands of restaurants in all corners of the globe. Your business might have just one location and a handful of employees, but your need for systems is the same.
What Is A System?
A system is a series of processes that dictates how one part of your company operates. Once implemented, a system requires little thought and minimal effort to maintain.
Ever wondered how you can possibly step away from your growing business to take a vacation? Systems are how you’ll do it. When set up effectively, they enable your business to run without you—at least when neccessary.
With the right tools and team members, you can set up a system for virtually any aspect of your business. However, there are a few key systems that’ll help you out immensely no matter what field you’re in.
Perhaps the most important system of them all: how will you make sure you and your employees get paid?
The simplest way to implement an accounting system is to A) hire a dedicated accountant or B) outsource your accounting (which is our bread and butter, by the way!).
An accounting system will ensure that invoices are sent on a regular schedule, rather than willy-nilly as projects are completed. It’ll also eliminate the need for you to rely on your own faulty memory to make sure all the bills are paid, which cuts down on mistakes.
We’re huge proponents of the benefits of outsourced accounting services and strongly encourage small businesses to use them. We talk in detail about what you’ll gain from setting up an outsourced accounting system in this post.
Customer Service Systems
The next most important part of your business: keeping your customers happy.
This might cover anything from what your staff does when a customer walks into your shop to what happens two weeks after they make a purchase. It might include processes like responding to social media complaints, dealing with returns and following up to ask for referrals.
We know that in many small businesses, everyone on the team is in the customer service department. In this case, having systems ensures that everyone is on the same page when it comes to your policies for dealing with customers.
A cloud-based service is a great way to do this; a platform like Zendesk or HelpScout can help your team work together to manage customer inquiries, track their status and provide a delightful customer experience even without a dedicated customer support department.
Your people are your biggest asset. That’s why HR systems designed to onboard, train and keep those talented folks happy are so important.
In fact, HR systems also help keep your bottom line healthy. According to a study by Deloitte, companies that employ modern HR systems see an average cost savings of 22% per employee.
You might employ an HRMS (Human Resource Management System) in the form of software like Zenefits, or simply have documented processes in place for things like:
- Recruiting/vetting potential employees
- Interviewing and hiring
- Onboarding new team members
- Promotions and retention
Setting Up Systems
If you think this whole “systems” thing sounds daunting, stick with us. We promise it’s not out of your reach, and setting them up now will save you a ton of time and hassle as your business grows.
While the processes you’ll be systematizing are specific to your business, the steps for doing it will always be the same.
- Take inventory of the steps involved
Every time you do this task, what does the process look like from start to finish?
Here’s an example of what this might look like for every blog post we publish here on the Profitable Entrepreneur:
- Brainstorm topics
- Conduct background research
- Compile sources and studies on the topic
- Create an outline
- Write the post
- Find images for the post
- Link to any additional supporting resources
- Schedule post in our CMS
- Promote it on social media
Now that you've got your steps outlined, it’s onto batching.
- Identify opportunities to batch tasks
Batching is simply the act of doing similar tasks all at once instead of one at a time. For example, you’ll save a lot of time by responding to emails for half an hour at the beginning and end of each day, rather than interrupting your work for five minutes at a time all day long.
The same goes for the steps within your task. Identify which ones can be done all at once to save time.
Using our blog as an example once again, we batch our brainstorming process. We come up with a list of 20-30 post topics at a time and store them in Trello, rather than having to think of a topic off the top of our head every time it’s time to write a new blog post.
- Identify tools
Every craftsman has his preferred tools, and so should every entrepreneur setting up a system.
We’ve cited several tools we like for various tasks throughout this post; spend some time researching to find out which ones will be best for your particular needs, then invest in them.
- Create a documented process
Using the steps, batching and tools you’ve amassed so far, put together the actual process of your system. This is a clear, documented hard copy (like a PDF or even an old-school binder) someone could refer to to get through the process.
Think of it as the user manual for your system.
- Delegate, hire or outsource
Now comes the fun part: offloading your system onto the qualified team member who will take it off your plate. You might delegate to an existing staffer, hire someone specifically for the task or outsource it.
Giving up responsibility is no doubt one of the toughest—but most important—parts of being an entrepreneur. With the right systems in place, you can delegate tasks with confidence and focus on the long-term growth and big-picture success of your company.
Which systems do you have in place for your business? Leave a comment and let us know!
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