The Bright Seven Sector Model: Operations
Posted on 25th October 2021 at 13:00
In this sector of our Bright Seven Sector Model, we’ll look at how we can optimise your business operations.
Operations are the inner workings of your business, the processes you have in place to keep things running day-to-day. Whether you provide a service, make products, or sell products, your operations are key to building a sustainable business.
We break this section down using our operations acronym WORKS.
Using the principles we’ll discuss below, you’ll be able to manage your workflows, optimise your processes, and deliver a quality product or service to each customer.
Sector 4: Operations
Before all else, you need to understand and map out your workflows. From a customer making an inquiry all the way through to providing the service or product. We call this the customer journey and you should have a detailed understanding of each step in the process.
When I’m mapping workflows with clients, I get them to think about each lane of the business including marketing, sales, delivery, etc.
If you’re struggling to map out your workflows in detail or your processes aren’t optimised, I suggest the FLEX model:
Start with a high-level flowchart that shows the entire customer journey from start to finish. This can be as detailed or vague as it needs to be, depending on how familiar you already are with your operations.
Next, add a list that breaks down each area of the flowchart. You might decide to use a manual, a how-to video, photographs, or just bullet point lists - but create a more detailed walk-through of how each step in your workflow goes.
Next, we engage our team to figure out where the issues are in the workflow. Where do you need new systems or protocols to optimise that part of the customer journey? It’s important to include your team and make them part of the process so they are on board with the changes and implement new strategies.
Finally, we look at the x-factors. These are things you can put in place to wow your customers and make your business stand out from the competition. I use my honeymoon as an example when explaining x-factors to my clients. My wife and I stayed at a five-star resort for our honeymoon where we were served champagne on arrival, vanilla-scented chilled towels on the beach, trips around the island, even a person to polish our sunglasses.
None of these “x-factors” were listed in the price of the hotel, but they made the stay stand out as an excellent experience and made us want to return. I also immediately recommend this hotel to friends because I know they will receive a top-level service.
Once you have the basics of your workflow mapped out, adding in these x-factors is what takes your service from standard to unexpected and keeps customers coming back again and again. It also helps you build a reputation for a great company to work with.
Having your entire workflow mapped out also gives consistency to your services. Each customer will get the same level of service because everyone in the company is working from the same well-thought-out workflow.
The O in our acronym WORKS stands for ‘optimise’. Once you have your current workflow mapped out, it’s time to optimise each step to improve your operations, bring costs down, and speed up your service.
Optimisation will look different for each business, but it could be implementing better software, improving your call answering system, making your website more user-friendly.
It could also be something much more fundamental like implementing better training so your staff are providing a more consistent level of service.
When optimising your workflow, think of it as a Kaizen process - a continuous and never-ending process of improvement. There is no way to fully optimise your business, instead, you should regularly be looking for ways to improve standards and offer a better level of service to your customers.
You might find multiple areas of the workflow that need optimising - try not to implement too many changes at once. This will overwhelm your team and lead to bottlenecks. Instead, prioritize the different changes that you need to make and start making small, deliberate changes to slowly improve your operations over time.
Your customers will appreciate the constant effort your company puts into improving and you’ll find referrals steadily increase because of it.
R stands for ‘results’. Ultimately, with every client, you want to give them the best results. To do that, you need to project manage their experience with you from start to finish to make sure they get what they expect and more from you.
It’s crucial that the right things are happening at the right time throughout your customer’s journey with you, from the time they decide they want to make a purchase to the time you deliver the final result.
If you offer a simple service, make sure you’re over-delivering and providing a quick turnaround. On the other hand, if it’s a complex service, you should focus on good communication throughout the project so your clients know what’s happening and know what to expect.
Although different in approach, both of these are project management styles to ensure your workflow is being delivered in the best way possible.
You might find your team need to be trained on how to better project manage client projects, or you might find implementing project management software is a more effective route.
In my business, I use Smart Sheets which is a dedicated tool for managing each open project we have. It maps out the different processes and shows the steps that still need to happen with each client, speeding up the process and keeping the entire team on track.
Moving onto the K in our acronym WORKS. The fourth level of your operations is about protecting the knowledge you’ve acquired in your business.
Do you back up your computers to the cloud? Do you have emergency planning backup to protect your business’s resources, information, and knowledge? How are you making sure the knowledge that your staff have developed over the years is kept within the business and effectively passed on to new employees?
If most businesses had a massive outage and lost their data, they’d fail within six months because most don’t have proper backup procedures in place.
You need to be able to restore that knowledge and information in the event of an emergency. Losing all that wisdom your business has acquired means starting from scratch and building up your operations all over again.
Once you have workflows and operations you’re happy with, put backup procedures in place to protect what you’ve built to keep your business secure now and in the future.
The last level of our operations sector is hiring a specialist to run your operations. Eventually, this will be your operational director or operational manager who oversees your business operations and knows how to keep processes running effectively. With this dedicated person in place, you can step away from your business knowing each step in the customer journey is being consistently optimised and managed by a professional.
You’ll then get regular reports from this specialist in your board meetings which show you how well your business is delivering products or services to your customers. They will advise on how to change or improve your operations and give you the peace of mind your business is running smoothly and clients are happy 24, hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Your business may not be in the position to hire an operational director yet, but this is the goal you’re aiming for when optimising your business operations.
Sector 5: The HR Framework
Optimising your operations is a key step in creating a sustainable, successful business. Not only will it improve your day-to-day processes and streamline your services, but it will also have a knock-on effect on all the other areas of your business.
Simply begin by mapping out your workflow and then follow the steps we’ve outlined here to immediately make some improvements to your business operations. You’ll be amazed at the difference just some small tweaks can make.
In the next sector, we’ll talk about the Human Resources department of your business. We’ll talk about how to implement an effective HR framework so your team know what’s expected of them and how to represent your business in the best possible way.
Watch the video below to learn even more about Operations
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