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4 Reasons To Document Your Business Processes

Originally published: 12.01.13 by Peter Hungate

I’m a simple guy, and I don’t like too much drama in my life. My philosophy on running a business is simple.  I want, and I want my team to have the least work possible to reach our team goals. I’m not talking about being lazy, I’m talking about being smart and efficient, and I’m talking about reaching some lofty goals, year in and year out.

I was first introduced to the concept of business processes while attending a “Dominant Market Share Seminar” put on by Ron Smith associate, Kent Rasler. One of the homework assignments was to read The E-Myth. That book, with its concept of having business processes that are written out, changed my whole outlook on running a business. And it was the key ingredient to building a successful retail heating and air conditioning company.
Here are the primary benefits to running a business with a foundation rooted in having documented Business and Operational Processes.

1. Happier customers     

At our company, the number one goal is 100% customer satisfaction, a tall order for sure and most of us struggle to accomplish it. But it can be done, and it is much

easier to achieve if you have written out and documented your business processes.  Processes that are followed and carried out consistently each and every day. I don’t know about your customers, but mine seem to prefer consistency in the way we conduct business. Whether we’re talking about how we answer the phone, perform a precision tune up or fill out an invoice, it doesn’t seem to matter. They want consistency, and they don’t like surprises. I have read and found out for myself that it is much easier to manage processes and lead people than to just manage people.

2. Happier Co workers

Having a good place to work is our company’s second goal. When my co-workers are happy, goal number one, 100% customer satisfaction, is much easier to achieve. Funny how that works. There is also a lot less drama going on within the company. Having written processes and training on those processes, clarifies roles and tasks for everyone.  And that makes life a whole lot better in an organization. It also provides great material for training. We review our written processes weekly during training sessions. We find that efficiency is greatly improved and the culture becomes one of less chaos and drama. If you read Ken Goodrich’s article, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff  in the October 2013 issue,  your business can even become boring. That’s the sweet spot, boring and reaching lofty goals. Life is good!

3. More Profit

I’m a bottom line kind of guy, probably a lot like you. The reason we are in business is to make a profit, right? At our company, a double digit net profit is a requirement, not an option. It is much easier to hit this goal consistently with written business processes that are in place, regularly reviewed, with co-workers held accountable. When it comes to accountability, it is 90% easier to hold someone accountable if your processes are in writing and crystal clear. The two traits of highly successful companies are urgency and accountability. Do yourself a favor. If your business processes aren’t in writing, take the time to write them down.  You’ll be rewarded in many ways and many times over. I like this saying and it applies to what we’re talking about “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time when are you going to have time to do it again?”

4. Less pain and drama

Tasks can be like a boomerang, or not. If a task is carried out haphazardly or inconsistently, there is a good chance that the result will be like that of a boomerang.  It will come back to hit you or someone in your organization upside the head, when you or they least needs it. We’re all going to get hit with the boomerang from time to time. That can’t be completely eliminated. Our goal is to minimize the number of times it happens. It makes for much less pain and drama. I believe that it is always better to be proactive rather than reactive. Being proactive means having your business processes in place.  Once you have them in place, set a schedule to review and improve them regularly.  Schedule process improvement meetings with your team.  There are big rewards for those that do it. If your plan is to grow, which is always challenging, written procedures makes the journey a whole lot easier. One of the best resources I’ve run across for written business processes is EPL Residential, an online learning web site for service contractors. It has a treasure trove of great ideas and models that will get you started.

Is my company perfect? Of course not. But right now was a good time for me to write this article because it renewed my belief about how important this subject is to business survival and profitability.  We are at the point of researching business process software so that we can have a more consistent format with flowcharts to organize who is responsible for execution, who is responsible for managing the process, and how to make systemic improvements and notify the team of changes. I see this being cloud based so it can be accessed by any team member from anywhere. Onward and upward.  In future articles, we’ll talk about how we are moving our business process procedures up a notch or two so that we can continue to grow and profit by  working better and increasing our customer satisfaction rating.

Peter Hungate is the owner of Pacific Air Systems, a retail heating and air company serving over 14,000 residential and light commercial customers in Tacoma, Washington.  Peter has built his company with a strong and continuing focus on managing and improving business processes.

About Peter Hungate

Peter Hungate is the owner of Pacific Air Systems, a retail heating and air company serving over 14,000 residential and light commercial customers in Tacoma, Washington.  Peter has built his company with a strong and continuing focus on managing and improving business processes.

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