By Alan Shaw, Co-Founder and Head Coach of Rhapsody Fitness in Charleston, SC
Welcome to Box Building! Follow Rhapsody Fitness Co-Founders Alan Shaw and Trinity Wheeler as they continue to build one of the fastest growing gyms in South Carolina. Answer the hard questions, explore various approaches, dive into strategy and share lessons learned that go far beyond fitness to be universal across entrepreneurship and startups.
I love it when a plan comes together. From our Facility Management Program to member experience protocols, we are all about systems and processes here at Rhapsody Fitness.
Regardless of size, stage or age, I’ve come to appreciate that systems and processes are the backbone of a business. Rarely given the credit due, having them in place is the only way to grow your team and scale your operation.
Whether you’ve just signed on the dotted line for your LLC or have been in business for years, here are six steps to start creating systems and processes to suit your unique venture.
Identify what is solid, what sticks and what scares you
For parts of your operation that feel solid, dig into why you feel confident about them – are there qualities or skills here that can translate to other needed systems and processes?
Listing what sticks will likely come to you the quickest – these are areas of your operation that seem clunky, cumbersome or inefficient. Pro tip, note what you think these sticky points are costing you in time, dollars and quality.
Name what scares you. Do some areas of your operation feel like a house of cards? Are certain mission-critical needs dependent on you or a singular resource? Calling out the boogeyman is the first step to facing your fears.
For example, when it came to our facility management, we were always on a mission to be best-in-class which requires constant cleaning and maintenance of our gym and it’s equipment. Being mission critical and requiring staying on top of many moving parts, this standard begged for a system to support it.
Put pen to paper on a process
Map out a starting system to enhance what’s solid, grease what sticks or buffer what scares you. Tackle one process at a time and don’t be shy about phoning a friend or colleague for help.
Each system should include a detailed and carefully documented approach including who owns what, the desired outcome and quantifiable metrics for success. Review this first pass or two with your partner or select team member for first impressions and feedback, but avoid decision by committee.
Going back to facility management, we started by drafting a full inventory of all our equipment. From there, we broke it down by day – grouping equipment by location in the gym for efficiency. Taking it a step further, we documented how often each piece of equipment needed to be cleaned, which products to use, and who was assigned to get it done.
Take your system for a spin
Before rolling it out, decide on a timeframe for testing your new process – I find 90 days is the right runway length. There may be some growing pains and an adjustment period as your team gets used to a new way of doing things, so having a set timeline to test along with those handy metrics to measure performance will be a godsend.
For our Facility Management Program, my goal was to have a document so detailed and straightforward that anyone off the street could walk in, pick it up, and get to work.
Tweak and fine tune
Once that trial period is past, assess. What worked and what didn’t? Likely you’ll find a few adjustments here and there will hit the sweet spot.
For example, oiling barbells took longer than anticipated, so we rearranged that task to stand alone on one day of the week.
Stay the course
Once your new process is documented, polished and officially implemented, stick with it. You’ve tested your theory and have the evidence to show it works, so trust it and do not compromise on execution.
The system allows you to get out of the weeds and steer accountability. When it came to our facility management, this process helped my team take ownership and me breathe easier.
Review, rinse and repeat
As time marches on, your business will grow and change, which means your systems will need to evolve right along with it. At a minimum, I recommend analyzing your processes each quarter to make sure they still suit your needs and are in the best shape for your business.
Know that going into year four, our Facility Management Program is still critical and something we revisit to tweak and fine tune.
In the process we trust. Your business is never too small to put the structured systems in place you need to perform at your best – in fact, we’ve found they make all the difference in our ability to continue raising the bar in our industry.
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