Are the systems in your business working for you, or are you constantly on call to keep them running? If it’s the latter, it’s time to make the switch — because systems should work for you.
Your business runs on its systems, even when you don’t know it. Every task — from content marketing, bookkeeping, and more — requires a unique sequence of people, tools, and time, which culminate in a feedback loop. In theory, that final process should all work together to keep you on track and in your zone of genius.
You probably have your own business system in place already, but if you don’t (or at least, don’t have a SPECIFIC system in place), then now is the time to start. Read on to see how you can create more structure, time, and freedom in your life in 7 simple steps!
Your process — and the systems you use to uphold your process — ultimately defines how your business serves your patients or clients, and how you reach your goals. Some people don’t like to reflect too hard on the details, but this introspection is essential to making your studio or practice a well-oiled machine.
Think of the McDonald’s french fry. No matter where you go, you can walk into a McDonald’s and order french fries that taste the same (and just as delicious!). This is because McDonalds has systemized their recipe to be the same everywhere. The results are duplicatable, reliable, and tasty. (This is what Michael Gerber talks about in his book, The E-Myth Revisited).
What could that trust do for you in your business? Could you grow your team of instructors or PTs? Could you open another location without worrying that you’d lose some of the magic that people found in your first one?
Having a thoroughly-tested process also helps prevent people from wasting time or resources on things because “that’s how we’ve always done it.” Instead, we want to create consistency based on our best habits. These positive systems help keep your business streamlined, productive, and profitable, even behind the scenes! They also let you work the way you want to, whether that’s 1:1 with clients or training new employees (or not being in the studio/office all the time!).
If you want to make a system work for you, first you must demystify it. The good news is, you can create a process for any of your office or internal tasks from scratch. Just select your topic (new client onboarding, discharge plans, email marketing, newsletters, blogs; whatever you think can be improved), and let’s dive in.
Once you pick the process you want to improve, it’s time to define your goals. Even if your current process appears to be working fine, you want to start by creating ambitious (and reasonable) goals. Do you want to see a certain open rate for your email campaigns, or sell a certain amount of your packages? Make your goal measurable and clear.
Now, it’s time for some brutal honesty. Write out the current step-by-step sequence of actions that have to happen for this work to get done. Include all the gritty detail, even the things that don’t seem significant. For example, let’s say you want to onboard new clients more smoothly. You’ll need to:
You also need to account for the tools you need to do each task (for example, a project management system like Asana, or ConvertKit for content).
Now ask yourself: Which people are in charge of each step? Who is accountable for each detail?
You’ll find that even “simple” processes quickly become more complex. Break each step down as far as it can go; you don’t want any “unspoken” work left out, like calling that new client if they don’t schedule another appointment. Once you can trace the journey of tasks from birth to execution, you are ready to move on to the next step.
Now that you’ve broken your process down to the building blocks, it’s time to put them back together in the best possible way. Let’s say you have noticed some redundancies or miscommunications during your investigation in step 2, which is totally normal. For example, what if someone called to buy their package from the front desk, but the front desk team forgot to send over their intake information and you don’t have it for the first session?
That’s a hole you can fill! This is your chance to remedy pain points like that by rearranging touchpoints, adding some, or removing some entirely.
I highly recommend a project management program like Asana for this step — my own project manager uses this with our team and it is magic. Here, you can schedule tasks with predetermined due dates and points of contact. Each person can submit their portion on their own and everyone knows who is accountable for certain aspects of the project (no more playing email tag to get an answer to your question!).
Once you have assigned those newly-minted tasks, it’s time to test your new timeline. Try it out on a smaller-scale project, like adding new sessions to an existing client’s account, to make sure you don’t have any gaps or obstacles that you didn’t expect.
By testing your process first, you can streamline your process while making sure all key tasks have the support they need. You want to improve any glaring issues BEFORE making this process your new company habit. It’s harder to unlearn a bad technique later down the road, so make these corrections early.
If your test goes well, now it’s time to implement your process for real. Establish this new system as company policy, use it in your day-to-day work, making minor tweaks as you go. You can also scale-up your new process from here. Expand it for bigger teams and bigger projects as you gain momentum. The longer it runs, the less you will need to supervise it.
With your new process in place, keep your original goals in mind. Are you seeing progress from your new systems? Do you have more time, or are you stuck fixing things more than you are benefiting from them?
You will likely need to adjust some things in your new process as you go, and that’s okay. Be sure to document your key metrics, and above all, stay patient. As time goes on, you should see the long-term improvements you need from the systems and processes you’ve put in place, whether that be happier clients and higher retention or higher sales, more revenue, etc.
Every process will teach you what you and your team need to succeed and reach your goals. Use that knowledge elsewhere in your business to automate and systemize wherever you can! Once you feel you have one system down, move to the next.
As a fitness business owner, systemizing your business is the key to unlocking your potential for growth and more revenue. It can eliminate bottlenecks, reduce your workload, and ensure that your energy is spent on what matters — the people you help.
Want to learn more about creating processes in your business? Want templates to help you get started so you are not creating the wheel from scratch? I have an entire library of resources that can help you — from understanding which tools and software you need to support your processes, to how to improve your SEO on your website. If you’re interested in building business processes that help you grow, visit www.christagurka.com/store and look around!