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Software Can’t Fix Your Business

By yalcin | Sep 26, 2019

…but implementing processes can.

It’s not just a catchy headline, it’s true. If your business is broken, software alone will not fix it. Software only works when it’s supporting great business processes.

The common misconception is that there is a software out there that will solve all of your business’ problems. This is wrong. Software can help improve inefficiencies in a healthy business and allow it to scale but you have to set the foundation. Processes are a good place to start.

What is a Process?

A key element in all successful businesses is the presence of standardized processes. To put this simply, a set of repeatable steps that get your business from A-B. From lead to paid member, from invoice to payment…you get the idea! This allows the business owner to make observations of the process, find inefficiencies, and fix problems. If the process is done differently every time there is no way to measure it or fix it.

Example Scenario: New Member Sign up

This is not a process: 

“New members sign a waiver and pay. We send them an email for their member portal login link so they can manage their account. We check in with them periodically to make sure they are enjoying everything.”

This is not a process because these are vague statements. They leave room for confusion and deviation from the intended plan. They leave questions unanswered like “How does the member pay?”, “When do we send the email with their link?”, “How often do we check in with them, and how?”. You can imagine the confusion this would cause an employee.

Now let’s look at a good process:

Good Process:

  1. New member submits an electronic waiver from the website or in person, chooses membership plan, and provides payment details
  2. Member immediately receives a “Welcome” email containing their member portal link
  3. 1 day later: Gym staff calls new member to check in and answer any questions
  4. 3 days after sign up: Member receives a text message reminding them they get a 10% discount for their first month at our smoothie bar

[Normally a process like this would have more than four steps. This is just an example]

The reason this is a good process is because each step is laid out explicitly to limit confusion. Time frames are set, method of communication is set, and the message subject is set. When an employee completes these tasks, they will do it consistently every time. Adding things like email and text message templates will further increase consistency.

Benefits of Standardized Processes

  1. Provide consistency (for the customers and employees)
    1. Brand consistency – every interaction a customer has with your business gives them an impression about your brand
    2. Consistency in service – The customer experiences a high level of service every time, regardless which staff member they interact with.
  2. Allow you to measure and adjust to maximize efficiency
    1. When each step is laid out like that you can test things to find the sweet spots.
    2. For example: Maybe 60 days is too long to ask for a review, or maybe 60 days is too soon.
    3. The only way you will find out is if you do it the same every time, gather data, and make minor adjustments.
  3. Reduce training time
    1. Having processes in place dramatically reduces training time.
    2. A new hire will be able to understand the process much quicker if it the same every time
  4. Allow you to automate
    1. Since the steps are repetitive, they can be automated to save time.
    2. Once the processes have been established, you can automate them using a tool like Clubworx Sequences.
    3. Automating these processes guarantees consistency, saves time, and allows your staff to focus on other important duties.

How to Implement Processes in Your Business

The easiest way to start implementing processes is to choose an event like a new member signing up. Start listing the things you want to happen when a new member signs up, what do you want the member’s experience to be as they start their customer journey with you? Mentally go through this process and write down each step along with other details like time frame, subject, and method of communication.

While creating this process, it is important to get feedback from members. Was it easy for them? Did they get confused or lost at any point? How could the experience have been better for them?

Is also important to communicate with your staff. How is the process for them? Is it time consuming? Is it easy to understand?

Consider all of these questions when creating each process.

Here is a sample of what a new member process might look like:

  1. New member signs a waiver, chooses membership plan, provides payment details
  2. Member immediately receives a “Welcome” email containing their member portal link
  3. 1 day later: Gym staff calls new member to check in and answer any questions
  4. 3 days after sign up: Member receives a text message reminding them they get a 10% discount for their first month at our smoothie bar
  5. 7 days after sign up: Member receives an email asking them how their first week has been and if there is anything we can do for them
  6. 30 days after sign up: (if member has not cancelled) Member receives an email checking in and asking them for feedback on their experience so far.
  7. 60 days after sign up: (If member has not cancelled) Member receives an email thanking them for being a member and invites them to leave a review on Google (include link for them)

Observe, Measure, and Make Adjustments

No matter how well you know your customers and your business, you can always improve the processes. Once you have implemented processes into your business, observe them, measure how they are performing, and make minor adjustments to improve efficiency. Is your sales process converting enough members? If not, can you pinpoint the part of the process that is breaking down? Is it a lead generation problem? Maybe it’s a problem where prospects aren’t being followed up with after they take a free trial. The point is, these processes allow you to identify problems and fix them instead of continuously putting a bandage on them.

NOTES AND BRAINSTORMING CONTENT

Employee Policies and Standards

Maybe you have all of your processes dialed in and they are working well, but for some reason members are still cancelling and growth has slowed. The conduct of your employees will directly affect your members in a positive way or in a negative way. Employees who conduct themselves in a less than professional manner will most certainly negatively affect your members.

Stop Playing Whack-a-Mole

If you’re not familiar with “Whack-a-Mole”, its an arcade game in which players use a mallet to hit toy moles, which appear at random, back into their holes.

Dealing with problems by putting bandages on them when they pop up is not a sustainable approach. Constantly dealing with the same problems over and over is exhausting. No matter how much you love your business, this will make you hate it.

Points to make:

  1. Use planned processes to gain insight into where the problems might be
    1. New customer onboarding and follow up process
  2. Have policies and standards your employees must abide by
    1. Employee handbook
    2. Covers conduct toward members and towards coworkers
  3. The Whack-a-Mole approach is not sustainable
    1. Only addressing problems when they surface instead of solving the root of the problem to prevent the problem from occurring again
  1. Identify the problems
    1. Is it a marketing/sales problem?
      1. Trouble attracting new prospects?
      2. Trouble converting prospects into customers?
    2. Is it an operations problem?
      1. Negative team members
      2. No policies/standards
      3. Poor customer experience
    3. Is it a financial problem
      1. Spending too much to acquire new customers
  2. Prioritize
    1. Which problem is the most painful (in time or cash)
    2. Which problem is affecting your customers
  3. Fix the problems
    1. Time invested now = exponential time saved in the future

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