January is the best time to get things sorted.
For all the news articles telling you new year is a bad time for resolutions, I’m calling BS.
If you’ve done it right, you’re fresh from your break with a clear mind.
Bad habits of last year are a faint memory.
Your team are in a similar mindset.
Time to seize the day!
Here’s the four steps we take (and our highest performing Leveraged participants apply) to make the year run like clockwork, rather than Sydney Buses.
1. Anticipate the Year
All that white space in your diary. The emptiness of the newly-purchase calendar.
If you don’t fill it, you know what will?
Other people’s priorities.
If you can lay out what’s supposed to happen now, before the madness floods in, you’ll control the flow of your diary.
You’ll be more like the person who opens their fridge to find it stocked full of great food organised meal-by-meal; instead of three tubs of half finished margarine, wilted veggies and an assortment of Thai leftovers.
You’ll lay out the system for yourself whilst your mind is fresh, handing it over to others to follow. Including you. You’re going to follow the directions of the You who plans ahead, instead of the You who makes it up on the run.
Start by locking in what’s most important; your downtime, holidays and the activities that drive the most important outcomes in your business; marketing, spending time with referral partners or getting the team clear about what you need from them.
Then fit in the rest. Big rocks first.
2. Block out the days
Now you’ve got the important stuff in the diary, it’s time to create your template.
I know you’ve heard of the “ideal week”.
Monday morning check in, afternoon planning. Tuesday to Thursday are client days. Friday morning recap then business development in the afternoon, right?
Great theory. Some well-resourced businesses actually manage to do it.
For most others, all is takes is a public holiday, an actual vacation (oh yeh! Forgot to factor those in…) or some other extended emergency and it’s all gone the way of the regular morning meditation you’d planned.
At best I think you can lock in a fortnightly template. Week One and Week Two repeated.
Personally, I prefer to plan the whole year, every day of every month.
It actually doesn’t take that long, and it feels awesome when it’s complete.
How many client facing days per month are needed?
Hint: number of new client appointments + reviews, divided by two = number of days (You may be able to fit in 3 if you’re super efficient, but I’d still allow space for unplanned meetings).
How many days are needed for working on advice strategies and documentation?
These should be isolation days, where you work on 1 or 2 items at most. No phone calls and definitely no client meetings.
Add in staff training, business development days, marketing work, networking and working with your business coach (had to pop that in there).
All marked out in your calendar, fitting around holidays etc, with ‘busy’ blocks on the important stuff, so your online booking system knows what’s available and what’s not.
Then leave 2-4 days per months totally free, to give you wiggle room. Sit back and watch the flow!
And if you can’t fit it all in, then that there is an insight worth having.
3. Drop Procedures, Work Hard Once
Here’s the real end game.
When your business can be run by completely ordinary staff – as in they don’t require specialist skills to do the job and you’re no longer on a quest to find your Unicorn (that amazing staff member who will change everything and stay with you forever – who doesn’t exist unless you marry them, and even then…) – then you’ll have the business of your dreams.
The secret is to get the “how to” out of your head and into a format that others can run with.
Checklists are good.
An Operations Manual is better.
An Online Operations Manual is adding to the ease.
Video explainers recorded by you, walking others through how you make the magic work, is to staff training what YouTube is to tying bow ties.
Now, if you can get others to take those instructions and map them into recorded procedures, then map it into an automated workflow system whilst you get on with growing the business, then you’re into the sweet spot.
Happy to share how we did it.
4. Become Uncontactable
The final piece in the puzzle is to stop being so available.
Yes, it’s a relationship business, but when your clients signed up they didn’t buy you.
They didn’t buy access to you on weekends.
They didn’t buy having every query answered at any time of the day within 4 hours.
That might work when you’re growing (and you should definitely love the heck out of your first clients), but if you keep that up as you zoom past 100 or more, it’s not going to work.
You’ll burn out.
You’ll have no time to get it done.
You’ll have no time for mentoring your staff.
You’ll have no time for building the business.
Your kids/ friends/ partner/ pets/ local bartender will stop knowing your name.
Urgent isn’t the same as important.
Make your team the first point of contact for clients. Teach them how to deal with simple queries. Step in for the ones they can’t answer, delivered with a tool like Voxer, which frankly is more convenient for clients than playing phone tag for three days or taking your call in the middle of bathing the kids.
Your ability to build a great business as your client base grows is directly proportional to the time you put into it.
The maths says that if you continue to be the go to person, over time it will become unsustainable.
Clients want their problems solved, questions answered and service delivered.
Just be careful in teaching them that the only way to do that is through you.
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