I was a chef for more than 10 years, and I’ve made every mistake, thrown every hour at a problem, and when I didn’t have enough hours to use on the rota, I threw my time at it too. I worked the 80-hour weeks and I even bragged about how many I’d done. I’d get home feeling exhausted and hating my job, but my managers always told me that there weren’t any more hours to go around and that it was my job to make it work, to hit the targets, to hit GP, to get the result. And I believed them. I couldn’t see another option, so I kept repeating the same process over and over again.
I was devaluing my own time by giving so much of it away, especially when I wasn’t even meant to be on site.
One of my clients has 3 companies, and he rings each one of them in the morning to make sure that they’re ok, they’ve got enough staff, they’ve checked the bookings, they’ve done the walk around and so on. He then stays up until all 3 sites are closed “just in case” there are any issues or problems that he needs to resolve. He even keeps his phone on him on the rare occasion that he’s on holiday, and he pays his team whilst he’s away too.
Your customers don’t care about your time, and they don’t particularly care about your product either. They care about outcomes.
Yes, they want fast and efficient service, and yes, they want great food and drinks. But these are just side effects of what they really want- a great experience.
If customers cared about your time, then you’d be billing them for it (and no, I don’t bill based on time).
So why do we place so much emphasis on time? If it’s busy, we put more staff on, if a job needs doing, we use more hours.
When we view time as a solution to our problems rather than a symptom of our problems, then next time we have a problem (probably in an hour), the only solution we’ll have is how much time we can throw at it.
This next bit might hurt, but if this is you, then I’m here to tell you that you’re lazy. I’m not denying that you’re busy. Hell, every chef, GM, and bar manager is busy. But being busy and being effective aren’t the same thing. By making time the problem, you’re never going to unearth the actual problem that’s forcing you to work all those hours. Those late nights, and those weekends.
I’m not here to bash Time & Attendance software either- a lot of my clients use it, we promote the use of it, and it’s incredibly useful. But using the software to monitor labour costs and to reduce staff hours doesn’t solve the underlying issues.
So, if time isn’t the answer and it’s not the problem, then what’s the answer?
You’ve heard loads of people bang this same drum time and time again: “What you should do is systemise your business, you should automate it, and you should put processes in place”. But what they don’t tell you is what processes to put in place or why you should be doing it, and that’s because they’ve coined the same phrases that other people who weren’t sure of the answer have told them.
The truth is, that you should start with any process that gives you time back. It doesn’t matter what the process is, and it doesn’t matter how much time you get back, what matters is that you start, and that the process you set out is for you, and not for your team. You can’t manage a team or grow your business unless you have time to do it. Once you’ve freed up your own time you can then start to work on freeing up the time of your leadership team, who can then start to free up the time of the team that they’re leading, which then results in an efficient and effective team that runs at the right labour % (which you can then monitor with T&A software).
If the thought of putting together a full process makes you want to tear your hair out, then it might be that you’re not the right person for the job- and that’s ok. I’m capable of putting together a process in my business, but I’m not the right person for it. It takes me ages to build a process and the whole process of making a process makes me want to dig my eyes out with a spoon. I had no idea where to start, so I did 1–2–1s with my team and they sure as shit let me know what needed implementing.
So I started with a couple of automated emails to free up a bit of time, and then I moved on to our onboarding process. I take all discovery calls, proposal meetings, and did sort of look after the onboarding of new clients- I dealt with what I could and forwarded emails to the rest of the team (usually will unobtainable time restraints).
I started by listing out the onboarding process (or how it should be), and then I put it into a document on Google. I then got one or two team members to review it and add their comments. I took their advice onboard and expanded the process, putting in as much information as I could. I then thought about how the process could be automated- we’re an accountancy business after all, right? We’re loaded with tech and IT and everything we do is in the cloud. Turns out, it’s really hard to get software to talk to other software! What we’ve got now is a mostly automated process that looks a little like this:
1. Client signs proposal and Letter of Engagement
2. The team receive an email with the proposal attached so they know that they are aware of it.
3. An onboarding email is triggered that explains the process to clients in both text and video.
4. Our Practice Management software creates a new client file and pushes this information to our AML software which in turn sends out an information request to the client.
5. The client receives an email from our payroll department requesting staff details an hour later.
6. A few hours later they receive a link to a form asking them for details of their previous accountant.
7. This form triggers an email to the previous accountant requesting professional clearance.
8. A couple of days after that an email is triggered directing new clients to our scorecard so that we can gauge how their business is performing and how they feel about the time that they spend in it.
9. A couple of days later they get an email with a Calendly link to book into the onboarding expert’s diary.
10. A week after this they get another email to book in for another catch up call to see how they’re doing and to answer any questions.
11. Two weeks later there’s another diary link for another catch up call, at which point the new client should be successfully onboarded.
12. After a little more time, they then get an email with a survey link to ask them for their feedback on the whole process.
We’re always trying to improve on our processes, and I’m always trying to find ways to make my team’s life easier because if it’s easier for them, then can handle more work, and if they can handle more work, then 3 scenarios are possible; 1. The business makes more money, 2. I get more time back, 3. I get my time back and more money.
If you’re struggling with where to start, or if you’d like someone to bounce ideas off, then you can reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or by booking into my diary, or completing the scorecard.