Every business needs a process to fuel growth
Recently I was at lunch with a friend who is the CEO of a trucking software company and he described how many customers lack a business process to manage their companies. He stated that his company's software would serve as the controlling business process. What keeps many companies from growing is a repeatable process to run their business. Given that Vidjaa is all about digital marketing, we will start here and describe the other aspects of a small company that needs a repeatable business process.
First of all, the processes should be viewed on a daily/weekly/monthly cadence. The daily processes will roll up into weekly ones and the weekly processes summarized into monthly ones. To review the pros for having a documented business process, these three are worth noting. 1 - It is easy to add staff as the company grows. 2 - Managers are resolving exceptions to the business process. 3 - It is easier to look for cost reductions.
What are the cons to not having proven processes in your company? Plenty of negatives, such as what happens when employees call out? How do you cover their roles? What do you evaluate a potential supplier’s impact to the process versus the current supplier? How do managers handle non-routine days like extended hours or a big shipping volume day? Since the Vidjaa service is delivered through a website, we have daily processes such as responding to member emails. Our weekly ones include reviewing analytics and managing ad campaigns. Furthermore, our monthly processes are focused on creating new content for members.
What should your small business have a documented process for?
Here is good starting business process list:
- Lead generation
- Customer onboarding
- Human Resources
Let’s take a brief look at each of these seven processes with a digital marketing mindset.
Lead Generation, or how prospects find out about your business is first. Why bother? Compare the high cost of acquiring new customers versus more sales from current customers can be many times more expensive. A simple one-page sketch or write up of how people find your company is a great starting point. The lead gen description should include keywords that people search for (SEO), any AdWords (SEM) or display advertising that is running most days. At Vidjaa our marketing connects to landing pages where we offer something of value such as a checklist or a white paper download, in exchange for a prospect’s email. Finally, this email address becomes part of the marketing automation process for our newsletters.
This chart was prepared using Google Drawings which is free.
Sales and customer onboarding
Sales is the second most important process to document. Regardless of how your company sells, i.e. brick & mortar retail, online, through dealers, or a hybrid, you should document your sales process. This is the basic tool to train your sellers and orient new hires. Here is an example of a Vidjaa member’s sales process (their name was removed). See this PDF. Most of all, tailoring the sales process to your CRM is key. Having a sales script is a great way for the sales team to cover the key benefits of your product or service, what makes your offering unique, and the value that you can offer. Hint - do not start with a discount!
Customer onboarding for online businesses (or getting customers through your retail store with signage) is important. Because reducing customer frustration, in the beginning, can greatly improve their experience and likelihood of repeat sales. Therefore having a simple email management tool like MailChimp, GetResponse, or Constant Contact is a great way to start online. In-store signage that tells customers where to pick up their orders or get support is critical to their initial experience. Making your website easy to navigate and highlighting the support pages are part of the customer onboarding process. Here at Vidjaa, we have this process for new member signup:
Because support for customers is critical. Many business owners love to hear negative feedback! They see it as an opportunity to improve. How are refunds and returns handled? Where do customers update you on website problems? Is your social media monitored for questions? Using your Terms & Conditions as a legal shield is ok, but it will not help you on social media. Reviews and ratings are everywhere, even without your input - think Yelp!. Without a fast response process, you are exposing your business to the negative reviews of influential posters. At Vidjaa we have FAQs based on the support emails we get.
The work to make your products or to provide a service is the operational aspect of the business. Are the steps defined? Field employees can provide wonderful service but can also hurt your business if they do not perform the service in the correct sequence. Frontline staff who fail to fully pack an order will earn your company negative reviews. Is there a process to train new staff or is it OJT from the veterans? Therefore documenting how the work is to be done allows your operation to be flexible with labor and scale quickly when needed.
Amazon warehouse staff have handheld scanners with predefined picking processes built in. If the item to be picked is damaged or missing, they follow a menu-driven process. Amazon spends hours training new associates on the process to pick a product. As a result, Amazon’s business has scaled extremely well because of the rigid work process they follow. since they plan to hire 100,000 new staff, think about all the work put into the training and business processes. At Vidjaa we produce content. Therefore, we have a process to check our content and publish it.
HR and Executive
Hiring and managing staff for small businesses is critical. Each person in a small business has to contribute and fit into the culture. Therefore digital tools like BambooHR to manage the hiring, onboarding, reviews, and goals is great. Coupled with a payroll system like ADP or services from your CPA, you have the basics for a solid HR process.
As the owner what is your executive process? It should include a small set of KPI’s that give you an immediate snapshot of how the company is doing. Years ago, I met a CEO of a large furniture chain. He said that with a few metrics every morning, he could understand how the business was doing nationwide. He hired IBM to build him a dashboard from the data in the company’s mainframe. Of course monthly and annual reports are part of the executive process. Especially relevant is assessing the top managers in the company. Are they the right people in the right jobs? How are new opportunities assessed? Consequentially, having an executive business process that makes you pause the daily firefighting to look strategically at the business can be well worth it.
A brief rundown of seven processes we consider important for small business to do. In conclusion, even a sketch in a notebook will do to start...
Finally, we recommend Gino Wickman’s book, Traction. You can buy it from Amazon here.