A hot buzz topic in business today is Systems and how these systems are going to be the key to your business and its growth. If you have read the book The E-Myth by Michael Gerber and I recommend that any business owner does, he writes about creating systems for your business and how all businesses are the same when it comes to creating systems for them. The idea is that if you have systems in place you can get people to run certain aspects of your business without your input! He uses MacDonalds and how it runs its business as an example. He examines their systems and the success they have generated. The goal is to create a system for each aspect of your business and then get people to follow the systems.
Sounds great, but it is definitely harder than it appears. Here is one problem you will face when creating these systems: how can you get it to the point where you can Set it and forget it! If you are not careful it will end up taking up all your time managing the systems, which will defeat the whole purpose of why you created these systems in the first place. I assume that most of you got into the studio business because you had a passion to teach, a love of dance and were looking for a way to express yourselves artistically. As we know, that is only one part of running a studio. As a matter of fact, it is the least important part of actually having your business become successful.
Creating manuals for your staff will be critical to your sanity and to the effectiveness of your business operation. Finding the right formula is important, I recommend using the keep it simple principle! If your front desk manual is over 100 pages long I believe you will have to be far too involved on a regular basis. Keep it succinct, to the point and make it an easy read. Using bullet points for your people will make it more user friendly. The point is that you want it to be useful, short and helpful but not a full blown novel. If it is too wordy I will bet that your front desk personnel will almost never use it.
If you currently have a manual, is it really being used on a regular basis? If not, find out why. Most likely you will find that it has just too much information and that your staff finds it to be more of a hindrance than a help. Here is what we have done to alleviate this problem. Get your front desk people to help you create a front desk manual if you dont have one. If you do have one already in place, get them to help you rewrite it. They have a better handle on what needs to be done than you do. So get there input and tell them that you want it to be short and useful. I believe that if a new person cannot come in to your business and run the front desk after two training sessions you need to refine the manual.
Set a once a month meeting with your front desk personnel. Let them know that during the meeting you will go over any issues they are facing. Try to get them out of the habit of running to you every time something goes wrong. Let them make some decisions and they can learn from their actions. Empowering your people to make a few decisions will help free you up to do the things you really want to do. Now there may be an issue that needs your attention before that meeting but try to stay out of the way! Keep these meetings short. Tell your staff that they need to come prepared with any questions written down and to show you the way they resolved any issue in writing. If you want anything done a different way in the future just tell them how you would like the issues to be resolved next time. Make sure they have it written down and be ready to move on.
Keep adjusting your manuals. We first created our front desk manual ten years ago. The present manual looks nothing like the first edition. It will evolve and it needs to evolve. Your business will grow and change and you will be faced with different issues each and every year. If you keep it fresh it will also keep being used by your staff. Once you build this system and put it in place it will free you up to get back in the classroom if you so desire or give you more time to work on the creative side. I recommend that you create a manual for your teachers as well. By doing so every aspect of your business will be run the way you want it to be. The key is to set it, and forget it!