How much would you like to be awakened in the early morning hours by a customer having a bad experience that was of your own creation?
Not a great deal I suppose.
Yet that is exactly what happened with a small glitch that happened while I was away on vacation.
The beautiful oceanfront cabin we stayed in was simply superb. We were having a wonderful time. On the last morning of our stay we really wanted to walk down to the property’s private beach for one last communion with the sea before heading homeward. It was shortly after dawn and we walked down to the gate for beach access, entered the security code we were given at check-in and then nothing happened. The gate stayed locked and we were disappointed and a bit irked. Apparently they changed the code but never told us (even though at check-in they assured us the code would not be changing during our stay).
Since the office was not yet open for the day, we had no way of getting the new code. I could’ve gone back to my room annoyed, an otherwise perfect stay marred by this last incident, but I didn’t. We got creative and called the after-hours number on the office window. That’s when I woke the owner of the property who said he’d be right down to find out the code (which was locked in the office) and let us through.
To his credit, he was extremely good-natured and kind about the problem. I thanked him profusely for coming to help. He said it is a recurring problem that happens now and again and said he should find a solution someday. “If I did,” he said, “I’d still be asleep!” That’s when I offered a suggestion (after all, it’s right up my alley). I invited him to consider having a system for this ongoing issue. Simply implement a process that when maintenance changes the code, that same day (before the office closes for the night), the cleaning crew should leave a pre-printed slip in each room (as part of their regular rounds) that says “The gate code has changed to ____.” Since they have to visit each room daily anyway (even if you don’t want clean towels regulations require they check the fireplace and private hot tub), there is no additional labor involved other than a printed slip. He liked the idea and time will only tell if he takes action on it to save himself some sleep and avoid future customer dissatisfaction. I, personally am willing to go back to Vancouver Island to Beta-Test the process!
This story drives home the point that whether you want to grow your business to have many employees or yearn to be a solopreneur for your entire career, you need to think about having systems within your business. Systems (even for the little things) do three things:
- Boosts your productivity personally and allows you to expand your team when and if you desire.
- Ensures consistent, quality experience for each and every person you serve.
- Gives you peace of mind (and you can rest easier knowing your bases are covered and you didn’t forget anything).
How do you know if you need a system for a given process?
Ask yourself the following:
- Has this problem occurred more than one time?
- Do I do the same set of tasks repeatedly based a given event (new client, continuing client, project start, project end, speaking gig, etc.)?
- Do I ever worry that I forgot something or missed a step in the process?
If the answer is yes to even one of these questions, you can benefit from creating a system for it.
By system, it doesn’t have to be long, complex, or take a long time to create. Think simplify. The time you take to implement it will be realized ten-fold and beyond over the course of time.
Wouldn’t you like to get more sleep?