An interesting article from the Harvard Business Review discusses how start-ups must make the move from being project-based to processed-based has caught my eye. Mostly because this advice applies to home improvement companies as well.
Many tech start-ups work hard to develop a product but, as the company matures, they don’t make the transition to working by documented, repeatable business processes. And home improvement companies can also fall into this trap.
What Are Processes?
Processes are a set of activities that people follow so they can meet their goals or objectives. Within every company, people have processes in place to help them manage the day-to-day business operations.
Problem arise when some do things one way and others do the same thing a different way. Or, their orchestrated activities are done in a way that is inefficient or worse… ineffective.
When processes are unproductive, you and your team waste valuable resources – time, money, paper, and energy – that cut into your bottom line.
From the article, here’s why many don’t make the switch from focusing on projects to developing best practices and processes that help grow the business:
Failing to realize that critical transition points in the growth of an enterprise require leaders to shift emphasis, they blindly stick with what has been working up to that point. The company stalls. Confusion grows among key team members, investors, customers and suppliers. And, ultimately, the failure to understand the demands of the transition lead to the failure of the company itself.
When many home improvement companies start, they’re trying to generate leads and they are scheduling appointments. From that point on, everything is based on moving from project to project and generating more leads to start more projects.
As additional leads are generated and more projects get scheduled, revenue starts flowing. Eventually profit is realized. And most owners believe that’s all there is to it.
Without a set of procedures in place on how every lead is handled, how every sales appointment is run, how each project is scheduled and completed… problems arise in the consistency of how the business is run. Leads slip through the cracks. Not every appointment gets run. Problems arise on the job site.
Most entrepreneurs understand that they need to be flexible and agile in order to figure out how and what potential customers will buy from them. But flexibility and agility must begin to make way for reliability and efficiency if the company is to deliver the kind of consistent product or service required to maintain happy customers and win new ones. Reliability and efficiency require that work be performed in a process mode, where tasks are accomplished repetitively in a prescribed fashion, resulting in minimal variation and cost.
If you owned a factory that manufactured widgets, would you skip the assembly line in your plant? Probably not. But many owners are likely doing just that when it comes to managing their business.
The assembly line is basically a structured routine that workers follow to efficiently produce a product along a scheduled route. Because of the line, workers produce more widgets faster.
At every level of your company, and in every department, you and your team should have structured routines – or what are called business processes.
Home improvement owners must focus on establishing fully scalable, repeatable and predictable business processes that are universally adopted and implemented to help improve marketing, sales, and production.
Check out the article on HBR for a more in-depth look at the importance of moving from a project-based business to one that operates on processes that produce more consistent results.