This was the first time I had gotten a call from this type of company and my first thought was "hum, I wonder what they're struggling with and whether this will be something I refer to a colleague."
During this call, it struck me that, underneath it all, businesses really are the same even tho' they're doing different things for different BizGuests. Entrepreneurs struggle with a real tough one—letting go of everything they've been doing while they got the company up and running. Things like:
- Handling employee challenges and requirements.
- And, the real biggie, getting things written down and available to those who need them, when they need them.
- Keeping things organized and accessible
- Finding what you need whether you're in the office or out and about.
As we talked about the challenges she was facing, it became clear that there were some "quick hits" or low hanging fruit we could take care of within 48 hours.
She really wasn't sure anyone could tackle the challenges since things were all over the place.
I told her we WILL, together.
Before we started...
After our initial "Are We a Match" call, we got down to business, identifying mission-critical issues, outlining what we needed to do, and in what order.
With our priorities outlined and deadlines established, we decided that tackling the vast amount of email was first, especially since there were mission-critical documents, contact information, and legal information buried among thousands of email messages.
With a blush, she admitted she had, essentially, been running her business using email as a repository for everything.
The first directive: using email as a repository stops. Now.
With the final proposal done and approved, I took care of the first thing we agreed to work on: restructuring her overall business processes and getting the key information out of email and into either a CRM or central file repository.
I tackled her email account first, getting rid of the thousands of emails sitting in her inbox. Within 48 hours, her inbox was down to 10 emails and those were the ones she needed to take action on immediately.
With the inbox cleared out and her next steps prioritized, I went through the emails temporarily moved into large "buckets" to find the files needed for current projects and those in the bidding stage.
Any email with an attachment was reviewed and the attachments stored in Drive, again in large "buckets" until I could find the patterns and key items needed.
As I worked through her email account, I could see why she was so overwhelmed and frustrated. Key questions were left unanswered, employees sometimes responded via email, other times via text or a phone call.
Within 2 weeks, we had key documents organized for current projects and a plan for how new projects would be organized from the start.
I also identified money leaks and places where employees were taking advantage of her generosity. Those were stopped immediately. Those taking advantage weren't very happy to hear from the new operations manager. (Okay, that's an understatement!)
In addition to organizing her mission critical documents, I created a custom CRM using Podio to keep track of the contact information, bids-in-progress stages, and projects won.
We continue developing the flow diagrams, policies, and step-by-step procedures for onboarding new clients, new employees, and using lessons learned to document the RIGHT way to turn this into a break-even business within 6 months and a profitable one within 12 months.
My BizGuest is thrilled that she can now find what she needs in a few minutes, rather than hours, or sometimes days.
Her custom CRM fits exactly what she needs and it can be changed quickly and easily without going to the vendor's IT department and practically begging for help.
Contracts, schedules, and other mission-critical documents are easily accessible with permissions given only to those on a need-to-know basis.
With new proposals being created on a regular basis, she now has models to work from so she doesn't miss key points in them or her contracts.
As a Union shop, she is required to provide a lot of detailed information to the general contractor and the Union. She is now able to get the right information to the right people at the right time, including her accountant.
Next steps are creating structured models for all the content she creates, starting with proposals, so they get where they need to go quickly AND are complete representations of the services she provides.
Although tough to take on, the employees that refused to adapt to the new approach have been released to find something that suits them better and my BizGuest is starting the newly designed interviewing and onboarding processes.