Keep it Simple – Strategies to Streamline Your Business
When people start a business, they are usually doing everything on the fly and as they grow, they continue to shoot from the hip and start reaching the point where they are just trying to put out fires. Soon they find themselves treading water and barely able to keep from drowning. This is the outcome of being successful, but it isn’t sustainable.
Once business owners start trying to put systems or tools in place to streamline their business, they tend to go overboard and then the entire exercise of streamlining the business becomes a burden. As with anything in human nature we fall back to old behaviors and chuck the new tools with the statement, “it didn’t work for me…I like how I do it better, or I need to fin
d a different tool that works better.” We need to manage ourselves, be consistent and patient since it takes time to create new behaviors.
I am a huge believer in the KISS method, “Keep It Simple Stupid.” Ask yourself if there is an easier way to accomplish the task. For example, your website should be super easy to navigate and not require visitors to click through ten times to finally get to where they wanted to go. Two clicks at the most should get people where they need to be and find the information they seek.
When establishing office procedures, write it down. Don’t assume everyone will think the way you do. The more you can get how you do things out of your head and on paper the easier it will be to delegate tasks. Now you are on your way to creating a process driven business versus a people driven business. Support your people by taking the guess work out of how things are to be done. If a key employee leaves you will miss them, but you know you can hire a newbie and give them the playbook and they will be producing at the same level at the get go.
Don’t over complicate your business. Focus on what you offer and how best you can simplify your delivery of service. Here are two dozen proven tips to streamline your business:
- Use checklists for routing or step-by-step tasks.
- Create short videos for training. Think How-to-Series.
- Use a calendar, whiteboard or project management tool such as ASANA to stay on track.
- Batch how you work – answer all messages at once, and return all calls during a 30-minute window. Group inspections, move-in reports, maintenance tasks, showings, creation of lease documents.
- Get your most important task done first thing in the morning before you read emails or check messages. If the day blows up at least you have completed your priority for the day.
- Have set busines hours and a Policy & Procedure Manual.
- Provide Owners and Tenants with a handbook or manual that outlines what you expect of them and what they can expect from you.
- Don’t work 24/7 this will lead to burnout and lowered productivity not to mention negatively affect your hard-won reputation.
- Have secret shoppers (friends) test your office staff to make sure they are following your processes and providing excellent customer service.
- Regularly review your forms, checklists, and processes to see if they still make sense.
- Delegate, delegate, delegate. Schedule time to train staff so they can be successful.
- Review your portfolio of properties annually and let go clients that are not a good fit, a pain in the butt, or too high maintenance. This creates room for ideal clients.
- Let go staff that aren’t contributing and moving the company forward. Employees can become a HUGE drain on resources, financially, professionally, and emotionally.
- Have patience and implement one thing at a time to not overwhelm yourself and staff.
- Create a routine and stick to it. It takes less energy and more gets done.
- Have your processes, procedures, and criteria for how you do business and stick to it. Don’t make exceptions for that nice old lady.
- Decide what you want your business and life to look like a year from now and then work backwards to today. Be intentional and know where you are going.
- Say No often.
- Don’t overbook your calendar. I always kept Monday and Friday open to deal with emergencies and to wrap up my week.
- Clear your desk at the end of the day and know what you will work on the next morning. Don’t waste time planning your day when you arrive at work.
- Whatever system you choose to go with it has to work for you and your staff.
- Get help sooner than you think you need it. Even five hours a week can free up a lot of time.
- Look to technology to see where you can free up time and be more efficient but again it has to work for you. Keyless showing systems are great for many businesses but don’t fit everyone. I always showed properties while tenant occupied and had the unit rented before the tenant moved out so keyless showing systems wouldn’t have worked for me. But if you are in a rural area or only show properties once vacant, they are a wonderful tool.
- Get a coach or accountability partner to help you stay focused and moving forward. It is hard going it alone.
In my experience when starting a company or at the point where you are scaling or hiring really keep things simple. Become efficient at the few processes you have setup and do it again and again then add the next step. Ask for help when you need it and be patient. Any change or new task takes time so give yourself grace and don’t expect things to be perfect. Be open to feedback, listen, and ask questions. In my experience you don’t need a mission statement, a vision board, a detailed business plan, or a marketing plan. Just have a clear idea of where you want to be in six months to a year and what are the fewest steps you can take to reach your goals. As you grow and have a better idea of where you need to improve, and your vision starts to come together then you can create plans to follow but for most people just create the stepping-stones for now and later you can build the road, then the freeway.
Please share how these tips work for you and if you have any other tips for streamlining your business not mentioned in this article please let us know. We are in this together.
Kathleen Richards, MPM®, CPC®, MS in Management, was Broker/Owner of a successful management company with CRMC®. She knows firsthand the highs and lows of being a business owner. She is a nationally recognized coach, speaker, instructor, author, and thought leader for the last 30 years focusing on business, leadership, and specifically the field of property management. She owns PM Made Easy – customizable products to streamline operations and founded The Property Management Coach. She can be reached at 800-475-3084.