How do they do it?
You know, the business owners who spend time a sunny hot destination during the grueling winter months, while their businesses continue to hum along as if they were still there. The ones who don’t remember the last time they stayed late or came in on a weekend. Are they just lucky?
I don’t think so.
There’s a simple explanation. These people understand how important it is to transfer their knowledge. By transferring their knowledge to another human or transferring it into automated processes or software, they can relinquish the responsibility of being the only person capable of making those important decisions or tasks.
In order for a business to run smoothly without the owner, that owner needs to spend the time to educate, mentor and build a trustworthy team. That team, equipped with the leader’s knowledge and trust, will be in a position to deal with issues as they arise rather than having to forward them to a higher level. This transition takes time, patience and understanding. People will make mistakes. If you accept that, it won’t be a surprise.
In conjunction with educating and mentoring your team, there are big bits of information in your head that can be input into software and processes. The nice thing about transferring some of your knowledge into software systems is that they remain within the company regardless of staffing changes. For example, if you use manufacturing software, you can dictate how your cabinets are built, how they are assembled and how the finished job will look. Your design staff can then use the software to design projects without worrying about how each item is going to be built. The software then breaks down the parts, operations, costs, labour and materials needed for the job. This drastically reduces the number of questions shop staff would have for office staff.
Using a comprehensive CRM system will also enable you to guide the expected processes you want to achieve. For example, you can automate an email going out to a prospect after they have visited your showroom. The email goes out each time a new prospect is created rather than relying on a human to remember to send it, to send something adequate and to send it to the correct email address. By automating this, you can ensure a certain level of customer experience.
Don’t get me wrong, although you can transfer your knowledge, the leadership of the business is still in your hands. Using a CRM system and ERP software you can create Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for you to review in order to ensure the business is functioning to your satisfaction.
Transferring your knowledge into a software system is not easy or quick, but the results are long lasting. Remember that you are doing something that takes time and patience, but you are doing it once and then you’ll be free to focus on other aspects of the business.
There is always a fear that once your staff has your knowledge, they may leave or open up their own shop. Or you may think that if you transfer your knowledge, you will become obsolete. Don’t fear this. Employees will leave long before if you don’t empower them with trust and offer them continuous learning experiences. And, after all, a well tuned and smoothly running business that generates a profit without the owner’s constant need to firefight, is a common goal for many business owners.
Peter Mate is co-owner and president of Planit Canada, a software and services company devoted to servicing the manufacturing industry. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.planitcanada.ca