This summer Susan guest-starred on a webinar, Structure to Set You Free, hosted by digital agency Hydrate Marketing, a HubSpot agency partner. Listen as Susan and Dan chat about process, policy, and procedure, and,  how structure can set you free. If you’ve ever felt like you have some dysfunction in your organization and long for efficiency and simplicity, this webinar is for you!

Please find a full video transcription below.

Dan Evans:

Welcome, everybody. I’m glad you all joined us this afternoon for our webinar titled Policy, Procedure & Process, Structure to Set You Free. My name is Dan Evans and our agency is called Hydrate Marketing. And we’ve been doing webinars for about three months, actually, it’s about five months. It’s June already, isn’t it? And so we started doing webinars earlier in the year for a few different reasons.

Dan Evans:

We wanted to share some of the knowledge that we have with people and give a lot of our customers and friends and acquaintances a chance to learn some things. So we’ve had webinars on HubSpot for a lot of our HubSpot clients that want to learn more about that and people who are interested. We’ve done webinars on LinkedIn, we’ve done webinars on social media, conversion path, lead generation, customer acquisition and all that cool marketing stuff interspersed with those marketing topics.

Dan Evans:

We’ve had guests come on like my friend Carol Williams who’s a productivity coach, joined us a few weeks ago to talk about productivity in some cool ways. Carol Williams recently introduced me to Susan, who I’ll introduce you to in a minute. I’m also joined by Madison Merrihew who works at our agencies, she’s the client and marketing manager. And Madison is a panelist and will kind of control all of our questions and all of that stuff. And you can always reach out to either one of us, here are our email addresses.

Dan Evans:

Just a little bit about who Hydrate is for those of you who don’t know. We have a lot of customers on the call and a lot of friends and a lot of people we don’t know, friends of Susan’s. So Hydrate is a digital marketing agency. We’re based in a thriving metropolis of Lebanon, New Hampshire, and are right next door to Dartmouth College which is our saving grace.

Dan Evans:

We do websites and SEO and lead path conversion and blogging and social media marketing and all of that fun stuff, digital advertising for people. But more exciting than that, I want to introduce you to Susan. Susan Fennema runs a business called Beyond The Chaos and she comes from the great state of Texas. Is that right, Susan?

Susan Fennema:

That is right, that is right.

Dan Evans:

So as I said, Carol Williams introduced us a couple of weeks ago and I was happy to invite Susan to join us for a webinar today about policy and process and procedure and how you work with companies to incorporate those to make things simpler and more effective. I’m going to let you talk in a minute. We’ve all been in situations at work for lots of different companies and the ones that I’ve worked for a lot of them are dysfunctional. They just don’t work as well as they should as much as we try to make them and for several reasons which you help people with. So can you tell us a little bit about your company?

Susan Fennema:

Sure, absolutely. Beyond The Chaos has been around for about four years. I have always in my history, worked for small business owners as their kind of right-hand girl, the person that takes care of making everything happen while those small business owners can dream and create. And that has been a passion of mine. I’ve always worked for small businesses. And when I got ready to move on from my very last job, I’m like, “Why am I looking for another job?” Let’s go and do it to them, right? Do it with a lot of other small business owners and spread the wealth. So with 30 years of experience in project management and operations, it helps me to have that experience to help those small business owners deal with a lot of these challenges.

Dan Evans:

Sure.

Susan Fennema:

I had 10 years as an operations director at an ad agency too. So I’m well aware of how the marketing world works. So if any of your clients are out there, I’ll tell you, if you can work in advertising, you’re going to work in anything.

Dan Evans:

This is true. And your story is somewhat familiar because I kind of did the same thing. I’ve worked in other businesses for a long time, primarily the petroleum industry and I worked in sales and marketing and my MBAs in marketing and finance and I’ve taught marketing. And I just said years ago I’m just going to switch it up and do this and use all of this knowledge that I’ve acquired through all facets of business management and entrepreneurism to help people and work with them. So you’ve done the same thing.

Susan Fennema:

Well, many, many, many small business owners have done the same thing. And that’s why we’re here to help because what you learn as soon as you start your business is, “Okay, this isn’t what I thought. I thought it was going to get to do what I was good at and work with the people I wanted to and do the things that I wanted to do.” And instead, you’re pulled back into, “Oh yeah, I’ve got to run a business.” And that part can sometimes suck the life out of you. And we are in the business of getting our clients their lives back.

Susan Fennema:

So one of the ways that we do that is through creating structure and that really does set you free. If you start to build that structure, you’re able to start to delegate, you’re able to repeat successes. When a problem arises, you can fix it and change that process that you’ve created so that it doesn’t happen again. And that’s really what we’re going to talk about today.

Dan Evans:

So let me ask you this. I think there’s a couple of things that pop into my mind. Often structure is associated with larger companies with more resources and often we think that smaller businesses and smaller organizations just can’t operate that way. We’re not wired that way, we wear too many different hats, there are different things happening all the time, and that it really can’t work for us. What do you think about that?

Susan Fennema:

That is a fear of a lot of small business owners, is I don’t want that bureaucracy. I started this to do what I want, right? Not to follow rules. Well, the problem is that without those rules, without those things that you are consistently doing, you’re not able to grow your business. You start to annoy your clients because you’re not responding to them in a timely way, especially when you’re running projects.

Susan Fennema:

If you are not putting some structure around those projects, well, how can you even tell your client when that work is due? How can you make sure you’re on budget? How can you make sure that you’re not giving away your trade skills because you’re not staying in scope, that you’re doing more? Those are just in the project area. The other thing that comes from that too is how do you know when your team is too busy? When do you know to take a new project?

Susan Fennema:

All of this comes together when you start to put some structure around the business, it’s going to help you with increasing your profit. And the big one, and this’ll tie into the marketing people out there too, you start to make this part of your brand so that you’re always responding the same way, that you’re always telling you… any client that comes in is going to go through the same process the same way and you’re able then to systemize that brand into something that’s repeatable.

Dan Evans:

That makes sense.

Susan Fennema:

So that’s how you get out of the deal.

Dan Evans:

Sure. And we run into that all the time in our business because when we bring new clients on even though we don’t offer a static service, a lot of the ways that we onboard people to what we do is consistent.

Susan Fennema:

Right.

Dan Evans:

And without that consistency, it becomes a brand new thing. You start from scratch every time and it’s time-consuming. And like you said, there’s a lot of opportunity cost to that. By the way, I just want to mention before you dive into what you really want to talk about some more is that for those of you that have questions, there’s a Q&A button down in the toolbar and you’re free to ask your questions in there. You can also chat. It’s more than likely that we will save questions toward the end of Susan’s presentation. But we may see something that pops up along the way that we want to address, so we’ll go give ourselves some leeway on that.

Susan Fennema:

That sounds great. All right. So let me dive in here. So we’ve talked about how we don’t want to create bureaucracy, but then how do you know when you need a system? What are some heads up there? Repeating successes is absolutely a great one. So how did this go well? Let’s take some notes and write that down so that we can repeat that the next time we do the same action. The other is to stop reinventing the wheel.

Susan Fennema:

Dan, just like what you talked about, onboarding a client, you go through the same steps each time. But if you only onboard a new client every two months and you don’t have these steps in a procedure or checklist to go through, every time you’re trying to remember, what’s the next thing, what do I do next? And it’s also all in the owner’s head, it’s not out there where other people can help you. So that’s the other part.

Susan Fennema:

You need a system when you want to start delegating something. We have a virtual assistant and we have very detailed processes written in for her to do things that I don’t even now have to teach her. I just say, “Go look at that,” and she can go and read it. And if she has questions, that’s great, we’ll answer those questions. But it allows you to onboard someone really quickly when all that’s written down.

Susan Fennema:

And hey, all the other questions that the previous VAs asked have also already been readdressed in those. So it really helps you delegate. One of the big fears of small business owners is that they’re going to delegate and they’re going to start to lose control, or they’re not going to do it the way I do it, right? And so being able to do that, you can start writing, canned responses to emails or templated messages you can put in your HubSpot that can go out that way. So it really helps to be able to get some of that little stuff off your plate.

Dan Evans:

You remind me of something that we’ve all gone through as managers at one point or another. And you have somebody new and they’re still learning and you’re saying to yourself, “Well, I need to give Jim this project. But Jim, am I going to have to show him how to do it? I’m going to take my own time, it’s going to take a while. I’m not sure if it will stick. So you know what, I’m just going to do it myself because I’ll get it done faster.” And of course, we all know the result of that. We all end up doing more. Jim sits there disgruntled because he’s not learning anything and getting any responsibility and we’re just piling up more work on ourselves.

Susan Fennema:

Right. And we hear that a lot. It’s easier if I just do it. Well, it is right now. But then when you need to do it a hundred more times over the next 30 days, it’s not easier anymore. If somebody else can handle that for you, that is absolutely the way to go. So when you’re trying to figure out what you can systemize, that’s really a big thing. We know now when we need a system, but then how do we know really what are some symptoms for when we need to do it? One is to identify bottlenecks, where are you as the business owner holding up the show?

Susan Fennema:

So think about if I went on vacation for a week, what would stop? What would come to a complete stop? So any of those bottlenecks are absolutely things that you can start to systemize. The other is if something just seems messy or out of order, chaotic, hence the name of the business, right? If you just feel like, “Oh, this is just so crazy,” that’s probably something to sit down and think through what are the things we should be doing here and let’s make a process.

Susan Fennema:

The other is that when steps to accomplish something start to seem really excessive or redundant, wait, didn’t we just check with somebody there? Why are we checking with them again? That’s a good time to systemize too. And then as you start to write that down, you can really start to strike things out that don’t make sense there.

Dan Evans:

By the way, we mention business a lot in your presentation, but it’s not just for business. Organizations in general follow the same rules and have the same processes and procedures and problems and challenges. We have a lot of people on our call today from Dartmouth College and they’re not all working in business, but they work in so-called business units where they run across a lot of the same issues, right?

Susan Fennema:

Right. It can be in a department and a nonprofit. I mean, anything that you’re working with, it’s the same kind of thing. And I would even say individually. As your own person, how do you run your life? A lot of this stuff can be applied to as well. Another thing is as you’re working through these things if you come up to something and you’re like, “Oh, wait a minute. Why do we do it this way? This doesn’t make sense.” That is a really good thing to ask a lot, because if you come to the answer of, “Well, we’ve always done it that way.” Okay, but why?

Susan Fennema:

There’s a story out there about every time you put a banana in a cage of monkeys and the monkey would come and try to get it, you’d spray them, hose them down with water. And over time they replaced monkeys and they would stop hosing them down. But all the other monkeys were telling people, “Oh no, no, don’t go near the banana.” And so you end up with this cage full of monkeys that have never been sprayed but won’t go near the banana.

Susan Fennema:

So you have to always keep asking why, why, why, and make sure that there’s a real reason, not because it was always done that way. The other thing is to look for specific activities that are not efficient or costing too much money or too much time. That’s a good place to start to identify what to systemize. So then we jump into, okay, well, do I need a policy, a procedure, or a process. And a lot of times all of those are grouped together and everybody thinks they’re the same thing. They’re really not.

Susan Fennema:

A policy, that is really the rules. This is a vacation day, or you must do your timesheet, those are policies. A procedure is a checklist. So something you just go down and check off, think airline pilot on his checklist before take-off, make sure everything works. They have that list that they repeat every time, they don’t even have to think about it. And then a process is more of written prose that explains what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how to do it. Generally, it might have bullet points in it, but it is generally sentenced.

Susan Fennema:

And so those three things together give you that structure to where you can start managing your company really like you mean it. So that’s the differentiation. So if you get into policy and you’re a one-person business, you might not need that. But I will tell you when I started my business and I was a one-person business, I actually made a policy about vacation so that I would take a vacation day or I would take a holiday. When do we close the company? Even though it’s just me, I want to make sure we stop and celebrate the holidays. So I wrote those just for me.

Dan Evans:

Has that worked out for you so far?

Susan Fennema:

I have taken holidays. Yes, I do.

Dan Evans:

Excellent, congratulations.

Susan Fennema:

Thank you. I think that’s really important. And that’s part of what the structure helps you to do is to remember that we are not our business, our business is here as a tool to serve us so that we are able to live our life. And so if we are not living our lives and all we’re doing is our business, we’re missing the point. So even if you have to make your own rules, that’s not bad. But if you are working with a team, it’s even more important.

Susan Fennema:

If you have people that are taking vacation or time off and you haven’t communicated with them what the expectation is, it is impossible for them to meet the expectation. And you’ll constantly be mad at them and they won’t even understand why. So if you are setting that, write it down and share it with them. And these things are not negotiable when you’re in policy, right? These are the rules of the company, this is how we’re going to run it.

Susan Fennema:

Might you make a side exception because of a special circumstance? Sure. But in general, they’re not negotiable, it’s just the rules. Pretty straightforward. One example, especially for all you marketers out there, is daily timesheets, right? Almost everybody bills their clients by the hour. And if your team is not entering timesheets, it’s pretty impossible to make sure that you’re actually on the budget and on target with your clients. So you need to do that. If you’re not doing daily entry of timesheets, this goes for anyone that bills by the hour, please make that a policy for even just yourself. Because you lose time when you have to go back and remember what you did. You’re giving away too much. We’ll put it that way.

Dan Evans:

Sure.

Susan Fennema:

You tend to underestimate when you’re grouping it together. So let’s talk about a procedure then. Now a procedure, we absolutely can do for a 1-person show or for a bigger company. This is the checklist. So think about onboarding or off-boarding of employees or clients as Dan you were mentioning. This could be also when we have a status meeting with our client, what are the things we always talk about? Where are our challenges with budget, scope, time?

Susan Fennema:

Those probably you’re talking about each time, and then maybe some specific things that you might get into. So having a status meeting agenda as a checklist is a good thing to think about. Also, if you’re a software developer there are specific software that you install that you might want to go through a checklist of say, putting a software solution onto somebody’s server. What are the same steps that we always follow? Check, check, check, and make sure you do it the same every time.

Susan Fennema:

Another one, any time you’re interviewing people, what is that process so that you interview everybody the same way? Especially when you’re interviewing three or four people for the same position, if they all have a different experience in the interview process, then you’re not even measuring apples to apples there. You’re kind of saying, “I feel like I like that person.” But maybe there is a test you want them to take, maybe they interview with a certain number of people. And so that procedure of knowing what order those things go in is a good example as well of a good procedure you can put in place.

Susan Fennema:

Moving on to process now. Process is absolutely applicable from one to many for sure. This can be bullets, like I mentioned, it could be numbered steps. But this is an opportunity to dig in a little deeper and explain, and sometimes you can put the why you do it in there. This could be your sales process. What is the first phone call script? What is the script that we follow? You don’t have to read it like a robot. But knowing the questions that you’re going to ask and being consistent with those is important.

Susan Fennema:

And then what do you do? Do you follow up? Do you set another appointment? On that next appointment, what do you do? When do you send a proposal? How is it signed? Do you do it digitally? When are you invoicing? All of that is part of the sales process. If you’re doing it over and over again, if you have a consistent way of doing it, it just becomes simple. And you don’t have to think about, “Now what do I do next?”

Susan Fennema:

Instead, you’re thinking, “How do I sell this person?” Which is what you’re supposed to be doing during that process? Same thing about getting paid. There are so many small business owners that hate invoicing, they hate billing, they hate anything to do with numbers. But let’s face it, we’re all in business to make money. And if you don’t actually charge your clients, they’re not just going to give it to you.

Susan Fennema:

So some process of how do you get paid is important. Making sure, for example, that if you bill by the hour, are you doing it in advance, and then how are you tracking the hours that are used? If you bill after the fact, how often are you doing that? Is it weekly? Is it monthly? What kind of detail do you give to your clients?

Susan Fennema:

Do you want to give them an itemized list of every single eight minutes that you worked on something or do you just want them to have a general, hey, this month, it’s this many hours and dig into those numbers if they ask? Which is by the way, what I recommend. Because if you give them detail, you give them a way to nitpick. So wait until they ask. Another one, how do you open a new project?

Susan Fennema:

Dan, we were talking about onboarding a new client, but then also, how do you open that project in your software tool? Who gets added? What are the initial steps to onboarding? Is there a kickoff call? All of those kinds of things are definitely processes that can be applied. And depending on what software tool you’re using as a project management tool, and by the way, you do need a project management tool in your business even if you are not running projects because you run internal projects.

Susan Fennema:

Even if you’re not running them with clients, internally you’re doing things like I need to update my website, or I need to prepare for a webinar. What are my steps there? Having that stuff written down on a notepad is not going to help you as much as an actual software tool. So I would recommend that everyone look at software tools. My favorite is Teamwork. Asana though is a free option, they have a free option. Basecamp is an option. Trello has a free one. There are a lot of tools out there that can help you with that.

Dan Evans:

And we use Trello for our project management and also just to track our deliverables. We have so many moving pieces as you know in this business that we’re in. There are a million things to do and we have to track it somehow. And so Trello is what we use and we can look at each other’s Trello boards and see what we each have on our plates. We go in and revisit it at least once a week and review it. And it’s an absolute necessity for us, that or something like it.

Susan Fennema:

It’s a necessity for every business. And Dan you’re running projects with your clients, and so there’s no doubt that requires a project management tool. But even if you’re only doing things that are internal projects, we have a whole project in our tool that is specific to what are our operations, what are our next marketing strategies? How are we implementing those? Who’s assigned? When’s it going to get done? All that stuff. So it is important-

Dan Evans:

Those are good examples because you think about this in terms of companies who have a lot of projects going on, but everybody has projects in some way, right?

Susan Fennema:

Everybody does.

Dan Evans:

You just gave an example, there’s a project to paint our facility, there’s a project to have some new software or hardware installed. There’s always something. And so those can all be considered projects, right?

Susan Fennema:

Right. Anything that requires tasks performed over time with a deadline. Think about it that way. And sometimes there’s not a deadline, it’s a self-imposed deadline. If you are working on your own website, unless you’re launching something publicly that’s been announced, if your page doesn’t get up there on that day, nobody knows but you.

Susan Fennema:

But even in our business, we write a blog post every two weeks. Well, there is some deadline for that. Otherwise, you start walking on top of yourself for the next one. So that’s a repeatable process that can be done over and over and we do have a process for that. We follow a template, a repeating task template. So everybody has those even if they think they don’t.

Dan Evans:

Sure.

Susan Fennema:

They probably just aren’t thinking projects if that’s not your business. The other thing that process can handle is some how-tos. So how do you access your website backend so that you can go make edits? How do you post your blogs or send e-blasts out? Those types of things are also good to think of this process. So those how-tos help a lot. So now we know what they are and we know when you need them, but how do we do this easily?

Susan Fennema:

I mean, I can just hear the collective groan of everybody saying, “Ugh, now I have to sit down and write all this stuff. Ugh, it’s going to take forever.” And it can, if that’s how you approach it, but there are some really easy ways to jump in and do it. So we use a tool called Loom, L-O-O-M, not Zoom. But you could use Zoom if you want. The goal is to have something that you can share a screen to and talk through the process. So you’re essentially recording yourself doing the function.

Susan Fennema:

I do this a lot even if there’s just a question. It avoids putting a meeting on a calendar, it avoids having two people spend time together to go through something on a time that you have to all be there at the same time. Just nice little show and tell. Hey, when we invoice, you go look at the proposal and you read the terms and then you click over here into QuickBooks. And this is where you go and how you create an invoice and this is the messaging that goes out on that invoice to a client.

Susan Fennema:

So we’ve recorded all that. We’ve shown the different software popped up, everybody can see it. Now you can make that it, you can do all of your process by video. I think that it is important though, to go to the next step. The next step is to actually get that transcribed so that you do have it written. As much as videos make things easy, also things change. So if now all of a sudden we don’t use QuickBooks anymore, now we use FreshBooks.

Susan Fennema:

Well now your video doesn’t work anymore, but if it’s written up, you can easily go in there and say, “Okay, well let’s search and replace for where QuickBooks is and then see when we get to those places if there are any changes that need to be made on that.” So write it up, I do think it’s important. And you don’t have to do that. There are transcription services like rev.com. I’ll type that over here in the chat so that everyone can go look it up.

Susan Fennema:

Rev.com is great transcription service. They do an amazing job. It’s a dollar a minute. And now you have something written to start with. Also, if you’re delegating, hey person I’m delegating to, take this video and write the process from it please. There you go, also off your plate as the owner. Then I would also make sure that if things change, if somebody edits those processes, that they somehow alert you.

Susan Fennema:

It can’t just be random people editing your processes all the time. You want to have a handle on it so that they’re consistent and that as things change, the people that are involved are also notified. Alternatively, if you are not in front of a computer and you’re trying to write processes, if you work out in the field for example or something like that, you can absolutely, as you direct the person on what you need them to do, have them write the notes and then have them write up the process from that then you can review it to make sure that nothing was left out. So there are lots of ways to do that simply and without a lot of extra time put on you to do more when you’re already trying to get it off your plate.

Dan Evans:

Susan, I’ve found in the past as a manager and business owner that a lot of times I think, “Well I can write all of this up, but people won’t look at it or they don’t really want to look at it and follow it.” But I’ve found myself to be wrong and that over the years I’ve realized that people really do like to have something that they can look at and understand the process. And so whereas I thought it was a waste of time before, I realize that it’s a necessity and it is appreciated.

Susan Fennema:

It is. One of the symptoms of needing process is when you find your team is not meeting expectations. So if you’re always frustrated, it’s probably because you haven’t communicated your expectations clearly, most team members want to meet your expectations. And if they know how, they will. And shoot, I go in and reference these. When I’m working with my virtual assistant, for example, I might have to go back and I haven’t done this in a few months, how am I supposed to give it to her? So now I can go look at my process and then she’s able to proceed on the right path as opposed to me just going off the handle and not doing it the right way and we all do that too.

Dan Evans:

Yes, that’s true.

Susan Fennema:

So the-

Dan Evans:

You struck a chord with our listeners when you said something about being frustrated with people not meeting the expectations.

Susan Fennema:

Right.

Dan Evans:

This is much our fault in a lot of cases as theirs if not more.

Susan Fennema:

Well, and a good hint of when it is definitely your fault is when you’re frustrated with everybody all the time. At some point it’s you, right? All those people can’t be wrong all the time. It probably is a reflection on their leader so keep that in mind too. If you’re frustrated a lot, put the process in place and it’s going to take a little time. And we’ll talk about that in a minute of how to roll that out.

Susan Fennema:

But some suggested processes for all businesses across the board, write these down, sales, invoicing and getting paid, running payroll, opening projects, and closing projects. Pretty much every business needs those, minimal. So those are good places to start. With writing your processes, you noticed I even mentioned well, QuickBooks and FreshBooks, right? So your processes can have a software influence.

Susan Fennema:

What is your CRM? How do you manage your finances? Where do you manage your projects? And what do you use for timesheets? All those things can affect your process. And in fact, sometimes drive it because the way that you use that tool is part of your process. And forcing your process into a tool that won’t handle it is also not going to work. So you have to take those software influences into account when you’re working on your process docs for sure.

Susan Fennema:

The next question that comes up a lot is, okay, great. I’ve got them written down. Okay, well, they’re in a Word doc sitting on your desktop, that’s not really useful. We want to make sure that we’re storing them in a centralized area that can be accessible by all the team members. So Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, any of those file-sharing servers work. Microsoft makes something called SharePoint. That’s also an awesome tool because you can easily push out changes and make sure that the team members read what the changes are. We use our project management software.

Susan Fennema:

So in our operations project, we have the notebooks where we have all of the processes written. And we don’t upload the files there, we actually copy and paste into the software tool itself so that it’s searchable and you can find what you’re looking for very easily. Some companies-

Dan Evans:

How about Slack? Does Slack fit into that or Evernote? Or is that of different use?

Susan Fennema:

So I love Slack. I adore Slack. I don’t know how I would run my business without Slack, but it does not work for process storage because most of us have the free version so you only have 10,000 messages and they go away and it’s not easy to go back and edit. So if you want to Slack to say, “Hey, you need to go read this process,” that’s one thing, but it should be in a shared location. Some companies have private websites, wikis. And so that’s a good place too.

Susan Fennema:

And if you are a physical outdoor type business where you don’t use software, this is the only time I will ever tell you that a 3-ring binder is acceptable. If you have a situation where your team does not use software for your business, having a place where they can go and actually look it up in a central place is good, but that’s the last resort. I would challenge even those businesses that think they don’t need software to look into that because it can really simplify your business.

Susan Fennema:

So once you have them, you need to actually alert your team now where they are and that they need to review them and that they are now responsible for following them. Just saying, “Oh, here’s a process,” that’s not going to cut it. If you have a project management software, assign a task in there with a link of where they should go and review it. And then when they check it off, they’re acknowledging that they’ve read it.

Susan Fennema:

Another option is in a Slack channel, you can say, “Go read it here,” and then require everybody to give you a thumbs up when they have read it. So to that point, you can use Slack, but you can’t store them there. Another is digital signatures. Now, if you have an HR manual, for example, you might want a digital signature on a form that says it’s been reviewed. So that’s a way to go too through a tool like Adobe Sign or HelloSign, you can make that happen.

Susan Fennema:

And then of course, if you’re using paper, physical signatures or initials are a way to show that it’s been read. Now, after you’ve done all this work to write them and to distribute them and to get everyone to read them, compliance is the next part. You really have to require it. And the first part of that is, remember you are the example, you are setting the tone. So if you are not following your processes, you are absolutely giving everybody permission not to. So you have to do it, that’s first.

Susan Fennema:

And if your systems are not enforced, they’re worthless. If everybody is just allowed to go and do it their way, the systems are not worth anything. So some easy ways to handle it. First, you announce to everybody it is here and you tell everyone. But when there are processes being violated, reminding everyone again does not necessarily help because those people that are following the rules are going to be the ones that, “Oh, no, did I do something wrong? Should I go look? What did I do?”

Susan Fennema:

The ones that aren’t following the rules, they’re like, “Oh, whatever.” They’re oblivious anyway. So make sure that gentle reminder to follow the rules comes to the individuals that are not. That’s a really good basic manager technique there. Share good to everyone, address bad things one-on-one. Go ahead Dan, sorry.

Dan Evans:

I find that’s a hard thing for a lot of people to do. A lot of people go into business because they like the product or service that they went into business to provide or create and they didn’t go into business because they decided they wanted to wake up and be a manager one day. And so it’s hard for people to manage. And I can’t tell you how many businesses I’ve been into over the years where the manager or the owner will say, “Yeah, I could tell them a thousand times, they just don’t do it.” Well, why don’t they do it? “Yeah, they just don’t do it.”

Susan Fennema:

Right. That is not okay.

Dan Evans:

There has to be, as you said, maybe having the processes and procedures to fall back on gives you a way to say, “Well, let’s look at this. Let’s remind ourselves what the process or procedure is and let’s see where the disconnect was in doing this.” Maybe having that document is a good way for somebody who is uncomfortable holding people to task to be able to do that.

Susan Fennema:

That’s absolutely a good tool to use. And the other is that when you’re having that one on one conversation, you might learn something about your process. Like the reason they’re not doing it is because it doesn’t work. Well now we need to revise the process, right? So that’s something to take into account too. I just put into the chat a book called One Minute Manager, it is a fantastic way to manage. It takes all the pressure off. It’s quick, 1-minute correction or high five, you did great.

Susan Fennema:

And if you’re always doing that all the time, it’s a lot easier and nobody feels like they’re being called on the carpet because they’re used to getting constant feedback. So if you have people that absolutely won’t do it, as you said Dan, you need to consider whether they need to be part of your company anymore. Because if you are constantly letting somebody violate the rules, it affects everybody else on the team. So that is definitely something to consider, is do they need to be there anymore?

Dan Evans:

Another difficult thing for business owners and managers to do. Nobody likes to go through that process, but it’s absolutely necessary.

Susan Fennema:

Absolutely. And believe me, the first time you fire somebody, it’s going to hurt and then you’re going to be nervous. But after you see the result of that person not bogging down you and the team, it’s going to be empowering for the future. I always looked to is when I set somebody free, so to speak, also they’re not happy. If they’re not good at this or they’re getting yelled at all the time, they’re not happy. Let them be set free to go find a role where they are happier. So there are ways to look at that as an owner too.

Dan Evans:

Great point. That’s a great point.

Susan Fennema:

Take a little of that pressure off. With these documents you have to remember just like we talked about, maybe it doesn’t work. These are living, breathing documents. The system should grow as you grow. When you’re a 1-person business and then a 5-person business and a 10-person business, your systems are going to change. And so they need to evolve and grow. As you learn things, as things change, you want to keep that updated. Absolutely get input from your team. What’s working, what isn’t? This also helps them feel like they’ve been involved and so they’re more likely to adopt them.

Susan Fennema:

Then also, here’s a big one, someone needs to be designated as the process champion. That could be you, it could be an operations person or a project manager, it can even be the person who usually follows the process. So for example, my VA, when she asks me a question, she takes the answer and she goes and puts it in the process. So she’s responsible for keeping those processes updated so that she knows next time and I know if I have to go do it for her, we have that updated.

Susan Fennema:

And then also I would say, review your systems annually, at least. Just read through them. Pick the least busy time of your year, set a recurring reminder in your project management tool. And for me, that’s the last week of December, I will go and review them. If you are growing and changing quickly, you might need to do that more often, maybe quarterly. But if you’re on a steady growth cycle, annually should be fine.

Susan Fennema:

So we have all of the processes written, they’re all out there, now how do we delegate them? How do we actually get somebody to do them? Obviously, the first thing is to give them the process, that is the first. If you need to show them how to do it, if you haven’t made a video, you can make a video or get on a call with them and talk it through Zoom, through GoToMeeting, or whatever you use and record that session. And then they have that to look back on as well.

Susan Fennema:

Typically with delegation, you want to show them how to do it, then have them do it while you watch, and then have them do it without you and you check the work behind them. So those three steps should get that person off and running and working it the way you want it to work and they can write it up to help systemize that.

Dan Evans:

Will you repeat those three steps again, please?

Susan Fennema:

Sure. Show them how to do it, have them do it while you watch, and then have them do it without you, but you check the results of the work. And then after that, they should be on their own. If there’s a sticking point, of course, you might have to repeat one of those steps if something has changed or come up. But those will help you get that work off your plate. And then all of a sudden it’s just happening without you and it’s wonderful. It’s amazing. There are all sorts of stuff going on at my business all the time that I’m like, “Oh, great. That got done. I had no idea we were doing that today.” But-

Dan Evans:

It’s a beautiful thing.

Susan Fennema:

It is a beautiful thing when that happens. And that’s when you start to get set free. So there we go, structure will set you free.

Dan Evans:

That makes sense.

Susan Fennema:

Do we want to take some questions?

Dan Evans:

Sure. Yup, let’s do that. I see that some people have chatted. We have one in the Q&A. If you have some questions, I urge you to enter in the Q&A button. And let’s see what we have.

Susan Fennema:

All right, Kim, I am reading yours. You were working with a VA who was putting messages out there that didn’t resonate. That’s a big one, right? You want it to be your voice. And then she outsourced your account. Oh wow, that’s bad. So you were right to be terrified, but don’t be terrified about being assertive. That is important. It is your business. It is your voice. And, it is your reputation.

Susan Fennema:

And so remembering that and being able to stand up to it and say, “No, this is not what I want and this is not how I like it,” that will help a lot. From that standpoint too, there are tools out there where you can write templates. Gmail lets you write templates in it where your communication can actually be your words, which helps a lot. Also, my sales assistant, we do some LinkedIn outreach and we have a routine where she gives me their message, she gives me a link to their page and she gives me her proposed response.

Susan Fennema:

And I can then just go through and check off and say, “Yes, yes, yes, that works. Oh, I want to change the words here.” And then she goes on and does all the responding for me too. So it is my voice, it is my thoughts and it is my words that are going out but she does it for me. Let’s see. Kim, finding the words to address things that aren’t on point is such a challenge being directive and effective. It is. And the way that you get over that is to do it.

Susan Fennema:

I say that too about talking about money with your clients. The way you get over being afraid about talking about money is to talk about money. And so to that point, Kim, I would recommend that book that I put up there, The One Minute Manager to you, it gives you some tips on how to do it in a non-confrontational regular way that makes it a lot easier. And that book is really short. You can really read that book in about 30 minutes. It’s really short. Also, I guess they should have called it The One Minute Book. All right.

Dan Evans:

Susan, have you ever read, Eat That Frog?

Susan Fennema:

I have not read Eat That Frog but I have read Who Moved My Cheese?

Dan Evans:

For sure.

Susan Fennema:

Probably about the same thing.

Dan Evans:

Eat That Frog is about tackling that one thing that you have on your plate that you don’t want to do. It’s always there, it’s lingering. It makes you nervous, it makes you lose sleep. And that’s about if you do anything, wake up and get that thing done and move it off your plate.

Susan Fennema:

Right. And then it’s not lingering and hanging and weighing you down. And that kind of stuff takes away from your ability to be creative in your business and do the things that you want to do and accomplish that.

Dan Evans:

Can you speak just a little bit about your process when you start working with a client?

Susan Fennema:

Sure. So do you want the sales part or the actual thing when we take them on as a client?

Dan Evans:

No. When you have them as a client, how do you start working with them?

Susan Fennema:

So we kick it off, we have a phased approach generally depending on what they want. If they are looking for consulting, we start with a process of going through and we have four meetings with them. In each meeting, we talk about what are tools that you’re using, what are the challenges that you’re facing in your business? It’s really kind of a discovery process. We want to learn how they run because we don’t want any of our clients to be jammed into the “This is the Beyond The Chaos way, you must do it this way.” We want to make it work their way.

Susan Fennema:

So we learn that in many cases we are even helping people figure out that they need a tool and that they need a process. If they have a process, we want to know if it’s written or if it’s in somebody’s head. So we go through these meetings and between meetings we start investigating behind the scenes in their tools. So we might go into their project management tool, see how they’re using it. And then part of that next meeting is giving them quick low hanging fruit.

Susan Fennema:

Hey, if you just do it this way, that’s going to solve this problem right off the bat. Yes, we need to put some more process and we need to put some project management around it, but that one little piece of the little hanging fruit will help. So we go through that for about four weeks and then we write a thorough implementation plan. These are all of the things that we think will help your business run more effectively. This is about how many hours we expect each of these things to take.

Susan Fennema:

And then we move into phase two which is the actual implementation part where we go and implement it for them. So we might create a template in their software. We might write process, we might just be project managers as well. So it depends on if they need all that consulting phase upfront. If they are already using a tool and running projects but they’re just in chaos, then we can start with project management hours and just get a project manager in there and clean it up and get on top of it and start facilitating.

Dan Evans:

So that sounds like a good process because you identify, you do your discovery, identify what the challenges and opportunities are and you have a recipe to address all of that. And you’re not just handing over the recipe and walking away, you’re following up and holding them accountable in the process or helping them do it. I think we’ve all hired people in the past to help us out like the old days they would just write a big book and give you about 50 pages of here’s what you should do and it goes up on the shelf and you don’t do anything with it. And-

Susan Fennema:

You’re like, “Hey, thanks for telling me what to do, but I didn’t have time to do this in the first place.” Right? If I had time, I would have already done it.

Dan Evans:

Sure.

Susan Fennema:

So yes, we absolutely help with that implementation.

Dan Evans:

We have time for one more question. If anybody has a question, go ahead and put it in the chat or in the Q&A button and we’ll address that. It’s getting a few minutes away from our stop time. So it looks like we don’t have anybody with more questions. I do want to share with you the screen. Susan, can you tell us about this?

Susan Fennema:

Sure. Absolutely. I do have an offer for everybody that is on this webinar or even if you’re listening to it later, we are offering help. So if you don’t have time to do all of this yourself, or you don’t know how, or you’re not a good writer or you’re overwhelmed, we absolutely can help. And so we will offer this audit and I’ll put this link too so you can just click on it. I’ll put it in the chat over here.

Susan Fennema:

It’s a free audit. It walks you through a bunch of questions and then you meet with me and I will give you three free recommendations right off the bat on how to improve your operations or your project management, whichever you’re struggling with. Those questions will tell me where you are. And as we talk through it, you’ll get some really good tips on how to do that. It’s a $497 value and it’s totally free for anybody on this webinar.

Dan Evans:

Well, wait, that’s not all.

Susan Fennema:

That’s right, that’s not.

Dan Evans:

So have you ever had anybody cry when you go through those questions with them?

Susan Fennema:

I have not had anyone cry. I have had people that many times the reason they’re filling out the audit is that they’re overwhelmed already.

Dan Evans:

Sure.

Susan Fennema:

And so then as you start talking through it, it becomes more real. When you’re doing this stuff to your business, that can be very overwhelming because you start to realize how much better it can be. You start to realize sometimes how many things were falling through the cracks that you didn’t even know.

Dan Evans:

Sure. And I have found a lot that people are embarrassed, they feel badly about the way they have or have not done things in the past and so they’re hesitant to kind of lay it all out there and put themselves in what they consider to be a vulnerable position.

Susan Fennema:

Right.

Dan Evans:

And I always said, and I’ve run across it really recently, I said, you know what? You’re not alone.

Susan Fennema:

You’re not.

Dan Evans:

If you think you’re the only one that lets your email list go to heck and you have no 17,000 people on there and 12,000 are bounces, you’re not the only one. It just needs to be addressed.

Susan Fennema:

Absolutely. And I have people that are like, “Well, I want to get things cleaned up before we let you come into this stuff.” And it’s like, no, that’s what we are here for. Don’t clean before the maids come, right? Let them do the job that you’re hiring them to do. And you haven’t done it yet. So the likelihood that you’re going to do it is not high.

Dan Evans:

Good point.

Susan Fennema:

And we’re very compassionate. We’re small business owners, we get it. So it’s important for us to partner with you, feel those things with you, and help you get out the other side.

Dan Evans:

Well, I want to remind everybody that this will be recorded. And so I’ll send everybody who registered a link to the video of this. If you want to curl up with it this evening and kind of review or maybe just get contact information and you can always email us as well, you’ll have that information. Susan, I really appreciate you joining us today.

Susan Fennema:

I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much for having me.

Dan Evans:

Sure. Madison, thanks for your help. And thanks everybody for jumping on with us and we will keep you apprised of future opportunities for webinars and ways to get in touch with Susan and all of that stuff. I hope you all have a great rest of the day and hope you follow those policies, processes, and procedures or start thinking about them. And we’ll catch up with everybody soon. Bye-bye, Susan.

Susan Fennema:

Bye. Thank you.

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