Category Archives for Order

Why Would You Track Financials in Excel – A Rhetorical Question

A lot of business owners start out doing their books in Excel. It’s something they know, and they’re not ready to pay for a service like QuickBooks Online or to pay a bookkeeper.

In Excel, you can sort columns and rows, set up formulas to add up transactions, color code rows and fields based on type of transaction, even make notes right in the fields.

And sure, there’s probably a lot more you can do in Excel, but it has its limitations. Steep limitations.

That’s why we encourage business owners to get out of Excel and into QuickBooks Online as soon as possible. And then, once it’s out of the virtual box, it’s important to customize its setup to meet your business’s unique needs–something Excel couldn’t do if it wanted.

When done right, QBO gives you everything you need every month, with just a few clicks of the keyboard.

What else can QBO do that will make you want to kick Excel to the curb?

Create Recurring Payments

One of the best ways to improve your revenue is to create a system where clients pay for a service month after month. This makes sense in a traditional gym, with monthly membership fees. But so many other businesses in the health and wellness field can go this route too–and make the payments automatic for the consumer. (We have plenty of thoughts on how to do this. Let’s chat!)

Monitor Your Expenses

You may not need more revenue in your business; you may need to get a better handle on your expenses instead. It’s really easy to do this in QBO, and to do it on a monthly basis, because you’re categorizing transactions and reviewing your balance sheet and profit and loss statement regularly. If you wait until the end of the year to clean up your books and review where all the money went, chances are you won’t catch that subscription you should have canceled or those ads that aren’t really paying off. In the end, you’ll spend a lot more than you needed to!

Identify Tax Write-Offs

You know a lot of the standard write-offs but with QBO’s ability to categorize, it’s so much easier to write off certain expenses–and minimize your tax burden. It’s really easy to identify often-forgotten tax write-offs like bank charges, health insurance premiums, equipment costs, internet and phone expenses, and more because they’re right there in your books.

Everything in One Place–Electronically

Have you ever tried to build a P&L in Excel? Manually? (Whatever did we do before computers!?) Without something like QBO, you’re hunting for receipts and financials, you’re looking in one place for recurring transactions and another place for one-off sales. It’s a lot, and trust us when we say we’ve seen it all. With QBO, you have a one-stop shop for all things business financials. And it will change your life.

So when we ask, “Why would you track your financials in Excel?” we’re asking in jest. We don’t think you should if you want to have a thriving and profitable business.

Are you ready to get off Excel and onto QBO? Let’s chat!

DaVinci, Michelangelo, and You

Now you may not be in the same breath with the greats, yet, but it's a worthwhile goal.

And while you may or may not be a master sculptor or painter, you are really good at what you do, right?

The question to ask yourself is "Am I (and my company) SO good at what we do that we not only are first in the minds of prospects looking for our service, but price isn't all that relevant in their decision?"

You've probably seen this ad and laughed...

Not only do you not want to have this guy doing your surgery, you don't want to BE this guy in the minds of your prospects and customers.

Need #5 on the Order level of the Business Hierarchy of Needs is Mastery Reputation.

Question: Are you known for being the best in your industry at what you do?

Being considered a master of your craft most likely means you are going to have to narrow down your focus and commit to serving a specific target market. The individuals who are considered greats usually niche down pretty tight. It's hard to have a reputation as "all things to all people" and attract the best clients, whom I'll describe here as hungry for your services and willing to pay for them. 

In the fitness industry the foremost example that comes to my mind is Eric Cressey and Cressey Performance. I have been at Cressey Performance in Massachusetts a number of times, and heard Eric speak when he was an "up and comer." He has always been dedicated to athletic performance, but it is his focus on baseball players, and particularly pitchers, that has made him the "go to" for many in the baseball world when it comes to arm and shoulder health and mechanics. The work he has put into to faithfully and consistently master his craft has reaped huge dividends. When I think of Eric, I think "Baseball". If my son was a pitcher, that's where I'd want him to train.

It's common to think that by adding more services you are are attracting more people. And while that MIGHT be true, the flip side is you are often lumping yourself into a crowd it's very hard to compete with. In the gym world, most businesses we serve are not going to outspend and "out-equipment" the Planet Fitnesses and YMCA's of the world. The Globo gym down the road offers everything from Aerial Yoga to Zumba, do you really want to try to compete with that? 

And it's not just gyms. The best Barbecue restaurants don't serve sushi, know what I mean? 

So think about it. Who can you and your business be the "go to" for? Who do you really enjoy serving, and how do you enjoy providing those services? Is there something you are doing now that you probably shouldn't be? 

How can your business be the masterpiece you've always wanted?

But Nobody Can Do It Like I Do!

Admit it. Even if you don't say it out loud, you rehearse it in your mind. After all, you are the one who started this business, and without you it would all fall apart. 

NOBODY AROUND HERE CAN DO IT LIKE I DO!

Well whose fault is that?

You see, there's a big problem (or two or ten) with this line of thinking, and even bigger problems if it's actually true.

What happens if suddenly you aren't around? 

If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that "stuff" out of our control does happen. We get sick, we have an accident, we need to take care of our kids or our aging parents. Or maybe, just maybe everything is going really well and we just want to take a nice vacation to somewhere warm. (It's possible this could be autobiographical, as parts of the state where I live, NH, just got dumped on with 4 feet of snow. Just saying.)

This brings us to Need #4 on the Order Level of the Business Hierarchy of Needs; Linchpin Redundancy

Question: Is your business designed to operate unabated when key employees are not available?

In his book "Linchpin", author Seth Godin describes this role as somebody in an organization who is indispensable - who simply cannot be replaced because they are just far too unique and valuable. The point of the book is to teach you as an employee how to become that in the organization you work for. 

Most of us know who the "linchpin" is in our company. As described before, many times early in our business it is us as the owner. As the business grows often it is the office manager or "admin" who is the glue that holds it all together. 

This is a dangerous place for a company to find itself in, for the reasons described above. When "stuff happens" in your business and pulls a key person out, what happens? Does the work just pile up waiting for that person to come back, if they ever do, or is there someone else in your organization that can step up and get it done? The bottom line is that no business should have a dependency on any one person that is so critical things come screeching to a halt if they are out for more than a couple days.

And that's why it's so important to have documented systems in your business, and more than one person trained on those systems. The key words here is "documented" and "trained". If you have been following this series you'll recognize every business has a way of doing things, those are their business "systems". But not every company has documented those systems so best practices can be followed by everybody, every time. And it's not very fair (or productive) to ask someone to take on a task they know nothing about or maybe didn't even realize someone else did. Training and cross-training takes care of that problem.

There are many ways to document systems so they can be easily taught. You don't have to write huge step-by-step manuals. One of the most effective ways is to record video walkthroughs and screenshots of everyday tasks, and then make them available on a shared drive.

So think about it. Who are the key people in your company you just can't imagine not having there? What would happen if they walked into your office today and told you they needed some time off? Or quit? Is your company prepared for life without them? 

And what about you? Are you able to take some time off when you need to without things falling apart? If it's true that "Nobody Can Do It Like I Do", you have some work to do taking care of that. I promise that the short term pain of creating "linchpin redundancy" in your business is more than made up for when it hits the fan. 

Start small. What's one system you could document and teach today?

Now Make it Happen!

It’s Time To Let Go

There comes a point when you can not and should not be doing everything in your business. When you have to let your inner "control freak" go. You have most likely heard this referred to as "Delegation".

Here's the problem when many, if not most, business owners start "delegating". We hand off a task or responsibility to someone on our team and then proceed to stand over their shoulder and try to make sure they do it exactly the way we would. That's not delegation, that's micromanaging. You don't like it, I assure you, your team members don't either.

You know what else frustrates your employees? When they have responsibility without authority. If someone has to come running to you to get your permission to do something all the time, you haven't delegated. You've simply given a job to do without all the tools to get it done.

Which brings us to Need #3 on the "Order" Level of the Business Hierarchy of Needs (BHN) - Outcome Delegation.

Question: Are the people closest to the problem empowered to resolve it?

When a team member is truly empowered, that means that you give them leeway to not do it exactly like you would, and also to accept the outcome. If the problem wasn't resolved in a fashion consistent with existing guidelines or values, that is a conversation you can have to help decision making in the future. But unless they did something that is illegal or jeopardizes the business in some way, you need to stay out of it.

Another key phrase is "people closest to the problem". As your business grows, that won't be you anymore. For instance, if you own a gym and are consistently hearing from your admin that the check-in process isn't working, you have two choices:

1) Insist that it's not being done because of X, Y, Z, and tell her to just "get it done".

2) Ask her why she thinks this is happening and how she thinks it could be made better.

I think we can agree number one isn't going to win you any "boss of the year" awards. The second is probably more powerful than you realize. When an employee knows you are willing to listen to ideas, they feel good about themselves and about you. It brings out creativity and problem solving, and often the solution is much better than the current process and better than the one you would have come up with.

It would be no surprise to those who know me and those who worked for me that I struggled with this as we added team members. I like things done my way, and it caused conflict until I realized that just because the idea wasn't mine, or wasn't like I would do it, didn't mean that it was a bad idea. Usually just the opposite. They were closer to the problem, which meant they had perspective I did not have. And it can work the other way. Sometimes explaining (or reminding) why you do things the way you do them brings your team a better perspective and you get better cooperation. Just don't get caught in the trap of "that's the way we have always done it". That leads to stagnation and frustration.

For the business owner, it all starts with the willingness to listen, learn, and when appropriate, let go.

How are you doing with that?

The Right Person For The Job?

One of the biggest challenges I have had in my journey as a business owner is hiring. It's this weird dance of the applicant trying to convince you they are THE most qualified, THE most enthusiastic, with THE best work ethic you have ever seen.

And you are trying to figure out all the reasons why they aren't. In my experience it often comes down to making a gut decision. I've been right on those, and I've been wrong. 

But if your hiring process is solid, and you know how to filter through the pretenders, there are gems to be found. Really good people, with great work ethic, who put in their all to grow and get better. When you find someone like that, it's your job to keep them!

And the key to accomplishing that is to the second step on the "Order" level of the Fix This Next Business Hierarchy of Needs (BHN).

Need #2: Role Alignment:

Question: Are people's roles and responsibilities matched to their talents?

Another way to ask it is this; Do you have the right person doing the right job?

When you hire, you hire for need. It just makes sense. If you need a coach in your gym, you put the word out in the marketplace that you are hiring a coach. 

But what if you find out later that this particular hire is an absolute superstar when it comes to sales? And has the ability to lead? And is hungry to learn and grow?

You see, it's usually not until weeks and months after you bring on a new team member that you actually know who you really hired. Get rid of the ones who don't fit, and help the ones that do fit, shine. 

The "superstar" I mentioned earlier is a real live person, and her name is Meagan Sbat. I hired her as a very part-time coach, but she didn't stay there long. She eventually became the GM of one of our gym locations, and a couple of years ago she bought that location from me. Good decision, Dean. I have watched her flourish and navigate this pandemic as well as anyone could. She even just recently moved the entire gym into a bigger location so she could serve her clients better. Truthfully, she is absolutely the right person at the right time for owning and operating that gym. I am pretty sure I would not have had the guts to do what she has done. Under her leadership Get Fit NH has thrived.

In her case, I got it right. By recognizing and developing her skills and talents, the whole business got better. And she isn't the only success story at that business. About a year before we sold the business, I started working with one of our coaches, Adam Gray, on program design and development. That was harder than you think because I am very protective and picky about program design. But he too has stepped up and developed a world class coaching program. And again, the business is better for it.

Sometimes that story won't have a fairy-tale ending. Sometimes the hire doesn't work out and you need to let them go. Other times you will end up developing a person only to have them leave because they have outgrown your company. I am not saying that's easy to take, but you can and should take pride that you helped that person flourish and succeed. 

Here's your action step for today. Take some time to think about your team and if they are really enjoying and flourishing in the role they currently occupy in your company. Would someone be better suited in a different role? Is it time to create a role that would benefit both parties and drive the business forward? Is that task you are holding onto really something "only you can do", or is ego getting in the way of letting it go?

When you have the right people doing the right jobs they are happier, customers are happier, and you are happier.

Who can argue with that?

Create Your Own Easy Button

Remember the Staples "Easy Button"? We keep one around the gym so after a grueling set of squats or KB swings I can go over and press it, with the cheery voice saying...

"That Was Easy!"

Clients love it, really!

Seriously though, Staples was on to something. They were communicating to their customers that doing business with us is better. Simpler, hassle free, pleasant. Easier. It was a big brand promise, and you can decide for yourself if they live up to it. 

I was reminded of the Easy Button as I worked my way through the "Order" level of the Business Hierarchy of Needs (BHN).

Need #1: Minimize Wasted Effort

Question: Do you have an ongoing and working model to reduce bottlenecks, slowdowns, and inefficiencies?

In other words, are you actively looking and working to make things easier?

This applies to both the way your customers do business with you, and the way your team delivers your services. As we discussed last time, documenting and following systems is important. The danger is we get caught in the "that's just the way we do it" trap. Look, I don't like change any more than the next person, but when you discover a way to do something that makes someone else's life easier and it still accomplishes the end result, try that instead!

And remember it's not all about you and your team. Sometimes in our attempt to make things easier for us, we make it harder on the client. Not a good idea. For years in our gym we took attendance manually, you know, on actual paper. That meant the client never had to do anything except walk in the door. Sometimes we would check them off as they made their way in, or make a mental note and check them off later. It worked pretty well, but it wasn't perfect. We would invariably miss one or two throughout the day. Eventually we moved over to a new software that had attendance built in. This would surely make things better! We explained to our clients it had an app for your phone, so when you walked in the door all you had to do was open it up and check that you were here. Easy peasy, right? People are used to using their phones for all sorts of things, surely this would not be a problem.

Except it was. Clients left their phones in the car, "forgot" to do it, or just didn't care. We had added one more thing to their plate in order to get it off ours. The new system ended up being less efficient and less accurate than the old one. After a few weeks, we tweaked the system so we were doing the input again, just using software this time. The important take home here is we listened to what clients were saying. If we were stubborn and insisted it be done our way, it would have just led to bad feelings on top of it not getting done.

Often reducing bottlenecks and being more efficient is amazingly simple, if you are willing to listen to what your clients and team are saying. Sometimes "complaints" are key insights into what is causing friction with the way you do business, and wisdom listens, not dismisses.

If you want a happier team and happier clients, what is the one thing you can do today to make them want to press the "Easy Button"?

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