Do You Have a System For That?
Perhaps the most important lesson I learned during my 6+ years in the restaurant industry was the importance of systems. How else can you explain the ability of chain restaurants to serve a consistent product relatively inexpensively to thousands of people an hour and across the country or even the world? As a novice in the industry, when I went on site visits, I was intrigued by the prevalence of routines, checklists, and procedures for everything from receiving product orders to conducting line checks to completing steps of service.
Transitioning into a new industry 6 months ago, I now understand more than ever before, the importance of having strong systems.
Systems help create consistency in your business and help your business grow and expand.
Consider the following ways to implement systems in your firm:
- Routines. When I meet with someone, talk with someone new, come back from a meeting, or engage in any other way, I immediately connect with that person through LinkedIn. It’s become a routine for me and therefore it’s really easy. The power of routine is incredible. How do you handle an address change or contact change for a client or vendor? Do you submit the change information to someone on your team? Do you input the change into your database yourself? Do you scribble it on a piece of scrap paper and enter it weeks later as you’re cleaning off your desk? There’s no one right way, but your stress will be greatly reduced if you can create a routine and put it into practice.
- Checklists. Checklists sound mundane, but they greatly increase the chances of success. Checklists have the greatest impact when they are used consistently. Consider the pre-flight checklist used on airplanes before every flight. How would you feel if you were on a flight on which it wasn’t used? Not very confident! Where could checklists be used in your business? Perhaps your new client welcome packet, or the paperwork gathered before pre-renewal strategy session? AIC hosts several Beyond Insurance® workshops a year and several weeks before each event, we pull out the checklist for all materials that has to be printed, copied, packed, and shipped. It’s satisfying to cross those items off the list, ensuring a successful event.
- Procedures. Document the steps to follow. When you have discovered the most successful order of operations , document it. This may work very well for something you don’t do very frequently or something for which only one person is responsible. If that person leaves the organization, it’s easier to transition his/her responsibilities to someone else if they’re well-documented. What are some important tasks you complete only occasionally and therefore may sometimes forget? Perhaps sending out a newsletter or client survey, planning for a holiday celebration, or completing the hiring process would all benefit from written procedures. AIC has created step-by-step procedures for a survey we recommend, and it has greatly improved the consistency with which we take on the task.
Systems improve consistency and reduce stress. The next time you’re having an office conversation that starts with “We should…”, ask yourself “How can we systematize that?” Consider implementing a routine, a checklist, or a procedure to better increase your chances for success.