“SYSTEMIZE your gift-giving, to ensure holiday business relations!”
Sound a bit extreme? Maybe that doesn’t strike you as warm and fuzzy, festive or spontaneous. More like something Ebenezer Scrooge would appreciate!?
Many Christmases past, when the economy was booming, it seemed there was never enough time for the truly important things I wanted to do. After all, I was busy making sure all our print orders got out on time!
I was always too bogged down in day-to-day operations, and Christmas and other holidays seemed a distraction when business timelines were critical! But, that was before I encountered The Ghost of Christmas Future.
The Ghost of Christmas Future
For years, I thought it was enough just to get the work out to customers, with little concern for “frivolous” things like holiday greetings. But, being “too busy” (bah-humbug) can have it’s drawbacks. I finally had to repent of my disorderly business practices, and start systemizing my business, even to being prepared for holidays!
I came to understand how meaningful those holiday business relations are to customers. The holidays are not only a special time with family and friends, but also when business owners need to express thanks to their customers in a meaningful way. Taking time to express thanks and good wishes can go a long way to establishing solid, lasting relationships!
Last-Ditch Efforts in Holiday Business Relations
Too often, however, these “expressions” become last-ditch efforts, while other work is being done. Then, a week or so before Christmas, an employee has to be sent scurrying out of the office to buy customer gifts. Sadly, those will end up being quickly-chosen cards or ready-made baskets of this or that, with little thought or preparation. Then the mad dash to a jammed post office!
The sadder thing, however, is that some companies fail to get anything special for their customers. They get “too busy” and simply run out of time for holiday business relations. Now that seems more like Scrooge to me!
Systemizing Holiday Greetings
As I began writing this article today, I received an email from “Jennifer,” my Production Administrator. She was setting up our annual meeting to plan and decide how to thank our customers this year. Wow! It would seem Jennifer is already full of Holiday Spirit, and can not only manage our busy production schedule, but remember details like Christmas cards!?
Not to downplay Jennifer’s considerable know-how, but TRUTH is—she was prompted by a cold, spiritless system!
Now wait a minute…
We have GREAT customers, and we’re thankful for them! But, like you, we’re busy people. We don’t want to lose sight of the most important people in our business, our CUSTOMERS! So we created a system that won’t let us wait until the last minute; won’t let us FORGET our important customers!
How Does This System Work?
On our Production Administrator’s Daily Routine Checklist (under the title NOVEMBER), there’s an important PROMPT. It tells her to meet with the President (Me) and our Bookkeeper, about Christmas gifts for our Customers. On the Bookkeeper’s Daily Routine Checklist there’s a PROMPT for her to print out certain reports from our Customer Data Base for this annual meeting. There’s also another PROMPT for her to print out Labels for mailing our Christmas Cards and gifts.
Since our bookkeeper only does the label printing once a year, it’s hard for her to remember all the steps for how to do it. So, on her Daily Routine Checklist, right next to the prompt for printing Christmas labels, there’s a REFERENCE NUMBER. This is actually the document number of a procedure that gives step-by-step instructions on how to do the label merge from our customer data base, and print out the labels.
Now, this doesn’t appear very technical or impressive at first glance. But, if I were to display, end to end, all the Daily Routine Checklists used by key personnel—Quality Control Checklists for all our processes, all Preventative Maintenance Checklists, Procedures, Policies and other documents—you would see thousands of PROMPTS to do THIS or THAT.
Nothing is ever just forgotten!
The This & That’s of Holiday Business Relations
These are the hundreds of “little” details that owners and managers typically carry around in their heads. Like, the way their business or department operates from the time they turn the key and open for business, until the time they leave at night. Yes, many business leaders leave late at night, because they ARE the system!
These thousands of prompts, mentioned above, dance (like sugarplums?) in their heads all the time, as they do them BY MEMORY. Better, they should systemize these details and delegate them (with prompts) to others in their organization. This TOOL of written procedures is able to help take care of details automatically, and in a timely manner.
Slaves vs. Systems
Many owner/managers are slaves to being onsite for long hours, so their employees can plug into them for the information needed to do their job. These same owners keep training and retraining employees, over and over. They waste thousands of hours when they might rather be at home on a long winter’s night.
Just that one simple procedure (how to print out Christmas labels) has saved me personally, a couple hours each year. We have had that procedure in our System100 for ten years now—that’s 20 hours of savings. At first glance, that doesn’t sound like much, until you add up all the hours of savings from literally thousands of prompts and processes on the other documents referred to above.
And how about the money saved?
You know on second thought, maybe this IS something for Mr. Scrooge!
Did I mention? Great Systems Work!