Answering the phone, paying the bills, waiting on customers, ordering, attracting new customers, training staff, adding product, handling complaints. They’re all part of your day. All are part of working ‘in’ your business. It’s time for you to start working ‘on’ your business. What are we talking about?
You sell products and/or a service and you readily recognize these as the merchandise of your trade. But did you ever consider that your business itself is a product too! When you ultimately decide to sell for retirement, or to pursue other interests, such as converting your hobby into a money making venture, your business is the ‘product’ you sell to the new owner. Is this product ready?
Consider the vast world of Franchising. Whenever a franchise is sold, the item purchased is a business; a specific way of doing business that perhaps includes a logo, color scheme, jingle or slogan, and maybe a recognized mascot. When we think of franchises we logically recognize the concept of a ‘business as a product.’ It’s time to think about your business in the same light. What can we learn from this fresh perspective? And how might this work ‘on’ your business, help you working daily ‘in’ your business?
I’d be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that if you consider this franchise model, comparing it to your current operations for just 15 minutes, you will think of multiple ways to make your business more productive and therefore more attractive to any potential buyer.
The franchise’s most distinguishing feature, the one thing that sets it apart from all other businesses is its turn-key nature. It is ready to go, ready to be replicated over and over again. How is this possible? It has all been documented. Because of this scripting, results are predictable. The franchisor can say, “I have a product (a business) to sell you. Let me show you how it works.” Can you do this with your business? Could you step away today and have another be equally effective with your business? And just how would they do that?
It is directly because of this recorded channeling effort, their uniquely singular focus on operations of the franchise model that the consumer gets the very same product in Pittsburgh as Paris, Chicago as Cairo. Geographic multiplication is the natural notion we harbor when thinking of the franchise. But this replication applies just as effectively to the single location experience. Are your customers receiving the very same experience one after another, day after day? What value would it be for your business to have this level of control over results?
Documenting informs all on staff what is expected of them, who they report to, and how things are done in your business. It is the who, what, when, where, why, and how that makes your business unique. Why does a customer choose you over the competition? Do you know? Can you commit to writing the reasons why with certainty?
Written text informs suppliers of what is expected as well. A famous hamburger purveyor learned that French fries sometimes ended up soggy even though they were cooked exactly the same way, time after time. Since the oil and cooking temps were constant, it just had to be something about the potatoes. The moisture content of the soggy fry spuds was tested. Potatoes with moisture content in excess of 23% yielded a soggy fry.
This experience allowed them to provide suppliers with notice they would accept no spuds with such high moisture content. Simply stated, “You want to do business with me? This is how you keep me as a customer. This is what I want.” The supplier is genuinely pleased to know how to keep this customer happy.
This scripting idea may conjure up feelings of a company manual the size of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. You may also shelter thoughts of you having to record it all this week. If so your imagination has the better of you. However, you can prove the value of the franchise model to your business knowledge now, particularly if you never seem to have enough time.
Over the next week keep a list of all the chores, the tasks, you personally find yourself committed to as a business owner. Add a check mark for each additional time you are called to perform that task. Merely making a mental note won’t work. At week’s end you’ll benefit greatly from the visual confrontation a physical record provides. The more detail you supply, the more valuable your list.
At the conclusion of your experiment, review the evidence of where you spent your time. With a critical eye, ask yourself what assignments should be occupying your time? As opposed to those which actually did occupy your time. Think about the specific tasks and functions that lend themselves to delegation? As you pose questions regarding this experience, be aware of what you are doing. Considering tasks that can be delegated and choosing the assignments you need to concern yourself with; these are the process of defining your position, contracting the focus to the critical path that really matters in your line of business.
Congratulations! You are now working ‘on’ your business. You are shaping, forming, and creating the product that is your business. The sharpened focus the process develops obviously makes you more effective working ‘in’ your business as well.
This little exercise can be repeated in most areas of your business. It will help isolate problems as well as recognize opportunities. A recorded outline form is sufficient. No doubt you will make modifications as time goes on.
The process helps you create a turn-key operation: one that gives you time away from the grind stone. If you’re with me, you realize the greater opportunity created is that now, documented your method of operation, your unique product – your business – can be replicated. You could be the franchisor, selling your business model to others. As long as you can demonstrate convincingly, “I have a product (a business) to sell you. Let me show you how it works.”