When I met Meghan and Kevin, they had been running their sign business for just a little over a year, having purchased it from a retired couple who had run it for more than a decade before that. You know those signs you see on the street corner next to a dirt lot with lots of words like "zoning" and "municipality" and "public hearing" all over them? Yeah, they make those. And file all the legal paperwork. And install them. And then un-install them.
It's actually a really fascinating and profitable line of work, and business was growing steadily, but there was a big problem. And it looked like this:
Meghan was managing every sign order 100% manually, printing and foldering documents and then physically handing them over to Kevin to design and print the signs. Then their installer, Jesse, would rifle through a clipboard full of papers every morning and do his best to make an efficient route through the city to install and uninstall the jobs of the day.
There were misplaced orders.
There were missed installations that required late-night cross-city trips.
There were papers everywhere.
There were multiple whiteboards that got photographed and re-copied daily.
And it was preventing the team from being able to scale their business.
But they made it work...for awhile. Since Meghan is hyper-organized (and crazy-smart), she acted as an effective conductor for the entire operation. With a strong manager at the helm, things ran smoothly. But it was getting harder. More and more orders were coming in daily and they had to resort to weekly tactical meetings to make sure everyone was on the same page. If they grew any more, they were going to be in trouble because they couldn’t support it with only 24 hours in a day. And Meghan was constantly in a state of worry, wondering things like:
What happens to my business if I get sick or injured?
Would the guys know what to do if I wasn’t here?
Will I ever be able to take another vacation?
I believe her exact words were, "If anything happens to me, we're screwed."
After a year of increasing struggles, enough was enough. It was clear to Meghan and Kevin that something had to be done to streamline and digitize their operations if they were ever going to scale their business. So they called Process Mentors.
A Wave of the Magic Wand
In just a few weeks of working with Process Mentors, their entire business was documented and moved to an online management system that was selected and configured just for them. Each team member got their own dashboard of "to do" items and was quickly trained on how to use their part of the system, as well as how all the roles and dashboards fit together. A truly paperless and streamlined future was finally within reach.
And now, the files are gone. And the whiteboards too.
They've been using their improved system for over a year now, and any member of the team can tell you exactly which signs are in any stage of the process at a moment's glance.
Meghan enters all her new orders into their online system and attaches related files directly to each order. She can monitor the status of her orders anytime from anywhere.
Kevin knows instantly when he’s got a new order to print and doesn’t even have to ask questions or search for printing information because it’s already all there. He even gets notified if new details have been added to an order once he’s gotten started with printing. (And there’s a lot less yelling of things from office to office!)
Jesse just grabs his iPad the night before his shift, sorts his installations by city, and checks them off the list as he goes along. When things change, he knows about it instantly and he, Meghan, and Kevin have all of the communication associated with each job at their fingertips.
A 30% decrease in time spent on administrative tasks.
No more weekly tactical meetings to plan out each job.
No more driving across town at 7pm to install a sign that got forgotten.
No more paper and ink and file folders.
No more checking and double checking to make sure everything is getting done correctly.
No more copying data from one whiteboard to another.
It just works better. And Meghan and Kevin got to go on vacation to Disneyland. Twice.
But I think Jesse summed it up best when he said, "I'd be pissed off if we didn't have it."
Do you feel stuck in the daily firefighting? Do you worry that if your business grew any more, it would collapse? Is your entire operation dependent upon the magic of just one or two people?
If you’d like help scaling your small business through better processes, contact Process Mentors to schedule a free initial call. Let us help you get back to doing your most valuable work so you can grow.