Do you hear this from business owners? “I wish I could just work 9-5 and go home without thinking about the business like my workers.”
There is a great book out there written by Michael Gerber about running a successful small business. The first thing the book points out is a fatal flaw that most people enter small business doing.
1. “Most small business owners are excellent technicians that one day decide they hate working for someone else and to start up their own business. These new business owners assume that because they are great at the technical work, that owning a business will come naturally. This is a fatal error. For the business to succeed, there needs to be equal attention to wearing the “manager” and “entrepreneur” hat as much as the technician hat.” (Gerber E Myth)
Thus most business owners spend their time like this:
70% technician – supplies output
20% manager- supplies order and system
10% entrepreneur – supplies the vision
Because the amateur business person does not devote enough time to properly manage and lead his or her business into the future, eventually even doing the technical work becomes frustrating.
The key solution the book provides is to:
Create a business from the start with the attitude as if you are building the prototype business in which to start a franchise or a turn-key operation which can be duplicated multiple times over again without you there. To achieve this your model must be foolproof where even the lowest skilled people can work and achieve great success due to the systems you have put in place. This makes it so that specialist with extraordinary skills really are not needed. In the optometry world, this is the Lenscrafters of our world. They open various locations in diverse areas and are extremely successful.
In order to create this you have to be religious about creating systems to treating problems. So when a patient complains about their glasses you have a system that is uniform to handle all scenarios. There is no “one-off” approach to dealing with a problem as it comes but rather everything is a system-based approach to preventing future problems from occurring. This plugs leaks as you go along versus bailing water constantly to stay afloat.
Also, your systems must be in writing. How to use the Auto-refractor, how to use the lensometer, glaucoma evaluations, all these things must be written down so that without you there your employee can always revert back to a standard operating procedure. How to schedule contact lenses exams, orders, glasses orders everything.
Innovation: You will want to be innovative and make changes, however, any change you make you must quantify the results and goals. From there you can build a database to track your progress and relentless try to improve the numbers.
After innovating and validating your new ideas with quantification you can streamline and improve orchestration.
Before you start your business you should answer the following questions:
1. What do you personally value most in life
2. What kind of life do you want to lead
3. What do you want your life to look like
4. Who do you wish to be
You should thus begin with the end in mind.
Having an organization chart is very essential for people to understand what their role is and to be accountable for the task they are given. CEO is at the top, then a person for marketing, finance, and operations below. By creating this organization chart, it forces the business owner to have a blueprint in which to structure the business and grow from.
Each role should have a position title and roles in their contract. The results you want from each person and also how each result will be evaluated is the important task.
Because everything is outlined and all protocols and systems are put in writing, nearly anyone can walk in and work well given the right personality and work ethic. Prior skills and experience are less important because everyone will have to be taught how business is done no matter how experienced they are.
For all employees they must know that:
1. They are the best and they need to ACT like it and be confident!
2. The customer must always feel as if they are right.
3. New skills and training will provide growth.
Goals need to be achievable so that anyone can achieve them when given the right training and systems. Think about Bill Belichick for the Patriots, it really doesn’t matter who the linemen are or the wide receivers, as long as you play your role and do everything Belichick asks you will succeed in his system (and generally make the playoffs!)
According to the book, most consumer buying decisions are made subconsciously and irrationally. So you have to understand your market better than the customer themselves. Know:
1. Demographics – you have to ask them questions about themselves in the health history forms. Create a profile of each customer, their lifestyle, family etc.
2. Psychographics: ask them their favorite color, word and shape preferences, and brands that they gravitate towards. Then craft your marketing messages based on this. For instance, Apple was targeting hip youngsters for their iPODS so they would have young people dancing. Also in their Mac vs PC commercials the PC was seen as old and nerdy vs the hip and cool Mac guy.
Create systems for everything: For instance for point of sales the keypoints are:
1. Scheduling an appointment
2. The eye examination
3. The solutions associated with eye examination. (glasses? contacts? surgery? VT? Orthok?)
For each of those benchmarks you need to create a script that has been fine-tuned with testing. Each script will have documented supporting material (handouts, pictures, demonstrations, videos etc).
All doctors and staff need to memorize a similar script and then deliver it in a nearly identical fashion (this reduces the “well the doctor recommended XYX and not what you said!”). So even if you have a doctor who is a VT or CL expert, they should describe the condition and come up with solutions that are nearly identical to another doctor within the practice – there should be similar practice philosophies.
When testing your marketing, you much measure how many appointments were made, how many people you contacted, and the amount of signups or success after each presentation.
As the business grows, it must enrich and grow the life of the owner. But remember to maintain your hierarchy and that everyone understands their role in your system. Once this is achieved, you can grant them high amounts of autonomy without micromanaging them.
Purchase the book here: http://www.amazon.com/The-E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses/dp/0887307280