Epic Business Systems Blog

This blog will be longer and a little more technical due to the nature of the subject matter. However, I do not want to under-emphasize the importance of grasping what we are going to discuss. I did not invent the idea of systems, not by a long shot, but that is the beauty of our world today. You can learn from other people’s mistakes as well as from other people’s successes. It is obvious that if you every want to be a real “business owner” instead of being only “self employed” then you are going to have to put systems in place for almost everything you do internally as a company, from the way you order equipment to how you schedule a job; maybe it’s giving an estimate or it’s disciplining a tough employee. If you don’t have a well thought out plan of action for EVERYTHING the wheels of your business will absolutely fall off when pressure is applied.

Pressure can be applied in a variety of ways including rapid growth, employee turnover, or discipline issues. Your job is to prepare a solid road map for your company and how you will deal with all the things that come with running a top-notch small business. You need to think, act, and behave like a CEO of a fortune 500 company from day one. I don’t care if you are the guy scrubbing the toilets today. If you ever want to move out of that role, your golden ticket is strong leadership, passion, and SYSTEMS.

Each system does not have to be complicated. Each system does not have to be long. The key here is to have very specific and pre-determined ways to handle every single thing in your business. When you are small and working alone it can feel like a meaningless exercise, but I assure you it is not. After you start hiring people, you will quickly learn that they don’t sound the same when talking to customers as you do, or the way they clean windows drives you nuts, or they don’t have a clue how to properly communicate with you when there is a question or issue on a job site.

Let’s list and talk about some of the places a pre-defined system should exist inside your business. Keep in mind I will not name them all, but a few obvious ones.

I run my company from the perspective that all systems fall into at least one of three categories: Sales, Service, and Operations. Let look at a few systems for each department.

SALES

  • How to get your phone to ring
  • How to sell a customer
  • How to organize all customer data
  • How to follow up
  • How to get referrals
  • How to sell a commercial job

SERVICE

  • How to clean a window
  • How to order equipment
  • How to keep trucks in working order
  • How to get referrals
  • What if it rains the day of an appointment?
  • What if a residential customer wants an invoice?

 

OPERATIONS

  • How to field phone calls
  • How to follow up
  • How to get referrals
  • How to hire good employees
  • How to pay your employees
  • What if someone is late?
  • What if it rains the day of an appointment?

 

Now, as you can see there are some systems that overlap into more than one area of the business. For example “How to get referrals” is important in all three categories of our business, but it is handled differently by each department. With our sales department our system is structured around the pre-set estimate appointment (Step 1 of our Customer Life Cycle, see Customer Life Cycle blog post for more info). At the end of the appointment during the “Pitch” phase the sales manager is trained to deliver a “soft referral ask” to the customer. This is done by showing the potential customer that we offer a group scheduling discount of 10 percent and that if they gets their neighbors to do service the same day they will each save 10 percent.

Our sales manager is not doing his job if this doesn’t happen on every appointment. It is part of our system and until modified it is the “law of the land” if he wants a job here. All systems are flexible and elastic and should be viewed as living documents. As you grow and learn you will always be changing and improving things.

Now, here is how our Service department handles the same system of “How to get referrals.” They execute their job requirement on Touch #3 of our “Crew Leader Three Touch Process”. After completing the job and specifically asking the customer if we “Met their expectations?” the crew leader promptly executes a direct referral ask. The customer typically says “Yes, we are very happy with the job” and the next thing out of our crew leaders mouth is the following “GREAT! Can you do me a favor? We are a small family business and we rely on good people like you to refer us work. It would sure mean a lot if you could actually remember to tell you friends to give us a call, or maybe post something on Facebook if you feel up to it.”

This is obviously a completely different approach to accomplishing the exact same end goal. Our operations department handles the scenario in a similar way after doing the follow up phone call. I hope that this small example is helping you to see how you can start laying out systems for your own business. Let’s talk more specifically about the systems I have mentioned here starting with sales.

SALES

How to get your phone to ring

  • Send Jim postcards are sent every week broken down by our master YTD revenue chart.  The sales manager must capture and mail a minimum of 300 new addresses a week, with greater numbers required in mid July (1000 per week) through September. Starting October 1st the number reduces to 300 per week again.
Don’t know about Send Jim yet? Take a look at the website, send yourself a free postcard today, click here!
  • Facebook promotion posts with season specific offers are to be done quarterly at a minimum with monthly posts on general activity. Here’s a link to our Facebook page, take a look at how we do things.
  • Entire customer list gets coupon postcard April 15th and October 15th.
  • All crews must perform “5-Arounds” with the Send Jim quick send feature.
Not familiar with SendJim? Check it out, click here.
  • And there are MANY MANY MANY MANY more things we have in place to keep our phone ringing but you get the point.

How to sell a customer

  • Selling residential estimate appointments must be done using the three step process:
  1. Introduction with company pitch (The speech talking about our high level of service)
  2. The walk around, identify all current and future opportunities along with exact pricing and house photo documented on the residential website form.
  3. The Pitch must be non-pushy and very consultative. Never sell something they do not need.  Explain all packages and mirror your customers personality type while building rapport.

How to organize all customer data

  • Use The Customer Factor for viewing daily pre-set appointments and use the proper website form for residential or commercial estimates.  Over-the-top note taking and communication are required at all times.

How to follow up

  • All potential customers who have not scheduled will remain in The Customer Factor as a “Prospect.”  All prospects must be “Touched” a minimum of two times per month until they schedule or verbally decline. Phone call #1 after following up offers a 10 percent discount to schedule. Phone call #2 offers a 15 percent discount to schedule.

How to get referrals

  • At the end of the appointment during the pitch phase the sales manager must deliver a “soft referral ask” to the customer. This is done by showing the potential customer that we offer a group scheduling discounts of 10 percent. If they gets their neighbors to do service the same day, they will each save 10 percent.

How to sell a commercial job

  • Jobs with values of $99 per month or more must be done following our B.O.G. protocol which includes dropping off a cold estimate and then properly documenting all commercial prospect information. After this is done it is followed up by monthly phone calls until verbally declining. Minimum of 100 BOG $99 and above estimates must be done per season. Commercial jobs worth more than $3,000 per cleaning must be sold an estimate appointment over the phone before walking in cold.

 

SERVICE

How to clean a window

  • All window cleaning must follow the Birds Beware window cleaning training videos exactly. No straight “pulling” allowed and only fresh squeegee rubbers are to be used each d ay.  All wet smears, dry smears, drips, and markings must be properly buffed out with clean/dry huck towels. All jobs must offer full walk around at the end to customer.

How to order equipment

  • All equipment orders and requests must be sent throughout the “Equipment And Supplies” voxer channel only (Voxer is a great walkie-talkie style app, it’s free and simple to use). Please vox in your requests and confirmation will be given after orders are placed. All equipment orders must be made in anticipation of crew needs and not requested the day an item is needed.

How to keep truck in working order

  • Crew leaders must start EVERY day with a completed and certified “Morning Checklist” report.

How to get referrals

  • During touch #3 offer the customer a full “walk around.” After this is complete, the crew leader must ask the customer the following question: “Have we met or exceeded you expectations today?”  After customer says Yes, then IMMEDIATELY follow up by saying the following: “GREAT! Can you do us a favor? We are a small family business and we rely on good people like you to refer us work. It would sure mean a lot if you could actually remember to tell you friends to give us a call,or maybe post something on Facebook if you feel up to it.”

What if it rains the day of an appointment?

  • Crew leaders are not allowed to contact customers regarding rain or weather issues.  Only the office staff handles this. If the weather looks poor then crew leaders are to call the office manager to discuss options.

What if a residential customer wants an invoice?

  • We do not offer residential invoicing under normal circumstances. Kindly tell any customer who asks for this option the following “We don’t invoice residential jobs currently, but I can easily take a credit card payment right on my iPhone or iPad. Or would you prefer a check?”

OPERATIONS

How to field phone calls

  • Answer and identify yourself with unusual enthusiasm. Your role is to make the customer feel that they have your absolute undivided attention. Make sure you are always logged into our CRM for fast access to customer data and confirm you are following the proper processes for estimates and/or scheduling.

How to follow up

  • Call all completed jobs and use the following script with an over-the-top friendly tone of voice:

“Hi, Mary, this is Josh from Birds Beware Window Cleaning doing a quick follow up call to make sure Robert & the Crew did a great job for you the other day. Were you happy with their service? Great, we are really happy to hear that. Please remember to tell your friends/family to give us a call. We really do depend on referrals from good customers like you.”

  • If leaving a message

“Hi ___________ this is Josh from Birds Beware Window Cleaning doing a quick follow up call to make sure Robert & the Crew did a great job for you the other day. Please feel free to give us a call back if you had any positive or negative thoughts on our service, as we really want to make sure you were completely satisfied. Again, This is Josh from Birds Beware and you can reach us at 810.629.2000 or send me an email to josh@birdsbeware.com”

 How to hire good employees

  • All new applicants must go through our two page interview questionnaire with the Operations Manager in person. Annotate and analyze all answers as well as appearance, attitude, and general impressions with owners. After selecting the best candidates they must be put through a full three day training program with orientation. If any candidate is one minute late or does not pass appearance, attitude, and general impressions after training is complete they will be let go.

How to pay your employees

  • All crew leaders received a salary for the 2014 season with a minimum 40 hour work week.  These can be more, but cannot be less. All Crew Assistants receive varying rates of hourly pay.  Operations, office, and sales managers received salary with sales manager having three monthly bonus options available, if revenue reaches 90 percent of goal, the bonus is $300. If revenue reaches 100 percent, the goal bonus is $800.  If revenue reaches 110 percent, the goal bonus is $1200.

What happens when someone is late?

  • When employees are late they get one warning. On the 2nd violation they are “Written Up” and documented internally as well as verbally corrected. For the 3rd violation they receive one week off with no pay. On the 4th violation they are terminated.

What if it rains the day of an appointment?

  • Try and convince all customers to allow our crews to complete all interior work if it is raining. Explain to customers that a little rain does not affect the cleaning as rainwater is generally “soft water.” If the customer refuses then reschedule the appointment to the next available date.

 

In summary, I know that this blog was a little lengthy, but please understand the importance of these ideas. From how to take out the trash, to how to request a day off everything needs to have a uniformed way of being handled. Your business can never “SCALE” without these systems in place.  The pressure that is created by growth will crack your business wide open if you’re not prepared.  “Poor Systemization” could also lead to you becoming trapped inside your business!

Don’t get trapped inside your business or you will never actually grown your business well.  Keep in mind that the way I do things with my company is not how you have to do things. Use your own ideas, personality, and style when creating your business systems. These systems will give your small business its own unique brand.

Take care and may God bless the work of your hands.