For the past month I've been writing about how to create a turnkey business, emphasizing the benefits of being able to grow your business and expand your team. But I haven't really highlighted how a turnkey business prepares your team for one of the biggest risks that your organization faces - employee turnover. Many folks misunderstand the risk their teams and organizations face when it comes to employee turnover. I've spoken to some business owners who have the idea that they can "get by without so and so" and that "everybody is replaceable." While it's true that your employees are replaceable, your team will still incur a cost as a result of somebody's departure. Even when organizations understand the negative consequences of employee turnover, they tend to focus more of their attention on preventing employees from leaving instead of preparing for their departure.
In his book The Checklist Manifesto - How to Get Things Right,"Atul Gawande showed us how simple it is to deal with complex processes, and consistently perform operations correctly. Just use a checklist. And we agree with him. If you want to increase productivity at work, you need to create checklists for how to accomplish tasks. This will not only serve as helpful reminders for you when you're performing tasks, but it also makes it a lot easier to delegate tasks and get consistently good results.
I just read a great blog article about why you need to make yourself replaceable, named Startups Cannot Afford to Have Indispensable Employees (and not for the reason you think). It articulated very well the message we've been preaching for the past month about creating a turnkey business - if you want to scale your business, you need to be replaceable. The article went on to articulate the problem of not being replaceable - if nobody knows what you do, how are you ever supposed to get promoted and/or add team members? If nobody has any idea what Bob does, what's going to happen when Bob is gone? If you want to take a vacation, who will take care of things while you're away? It's a risk to not be replaceable, and it's a risk that tons of people are taking - but really cannot afford.
Questions are like roadblocks on the path to productivity - if you or your team have a question, then not much can be done until you answer that question. The fewer questions you have, the more you'll be able to get done. If you can answer any remaining questions quickly, then you'll be able to get back on the road to productivity in less time. And if you don't have to involve a lot of people in order to answer questions, then you'll be able to keep more of your human resources productive.
What's the #1 productivity killer? Questions. They'll stop productivity dead in its tracks. Whenever there is a question, it means there's a knowledge gap. And things won't get done (at least completely done) until that gap is filled. Questions can stop productivity in two ways - it stops the person performing the task, and it stops the person who has to answer the question. In some cases, a whole team will stop work to hear, and then try to answer, a question.
When folks talk about a turnkey business, they're most likely talking about a franchise - all the owner has to do is "turn the key" to begin operations; however, the term doesn't just apply to franchises. What makes a franchise a turnkey business is that somebody has defined all of the processes, the inputs, the outputs, etc., and all they need to increase productivity is some investment capital and labor. Just plug them in and they're off! But any business can replicate that, even if you're not selling burgers. All you have to do is incorporate the turnkey business concept - break down your business operations into mini repeatable processes that can be performed consistently by somebody else.
I've done a lot of service projects in my life, and I've found that about 80% of the time, way too many people show up. It's not that there isn't a lot of work to do, it's just that whoever is in charge isn't organized in a way that they can utilize all of the available resources - lots of manpower, little direction. In fact, it often turns into 15 people walking around watching the person we were supposed to be serving, doing all of the work! That's not very helpful. So when my brother Trevor and I accompanied a group to New Jersey to help out with the Hurricane Sandy cleanup effort, I was shocked by how well we were utilized! Our group of 128 was immediately put to work, and able to help those who desperately needed it within an hour of showing up. Our productivity was dramatically increased because the group we went with was organized.
If you perform any type of customer service, your goal should be to help your customers be successful. Especially in today's Yelpified-social media saturated world where word of mouth marketing and customer loyalty can make or break you. But how do you know that what you are doing is really helping your customers be successful? How can you tell that your best tools and help-desk software are really improving the overall quality of your customer service? Coming up with the right metrics, and then being able to effectively track those metrics, can be tricky. But you need to do it, otherwise you'll never be sure whether your investment in getting the best customer service tools is really paying off.