Being an expert (one of our mantras here at 16 Hoops) requires some forethought and design. You aren’t going to naturally wake up one day and find you have the expert position in your market or with your customers.
Expertise is built. It is earned.
We will add this: it is also repeatable.
It can’t be random, either. Take this wisdom from E-Myth Revisited:
Definition of deal-breaking customer service = creating a delightful experience, then taking it away.
How do we earn customer trust and delight, and then replicate those experiences? With systems. Formal, written, AKA not "in your head" systems.
Systems are the backbone of any thriving customer-oriented business. Let’s explore five ways that repeatable, designed systems hold everything in elegant balance.
1. Systems get you three steps ahead of your customer
Ever wondered why restaurants give bread or chips and salsa for free? It seems counterintuitive--won't it leave us full and we won't order as much?
Gordon Ramsay explains why good restaurants do this, and it totally makes sense. It buys the restaurant time with the customer for when they will inevitably get in the weeds. It's "baked in" to the system. It's the old "under-promise and over-deliver" adage.
2. Systems allow you to repeatedly delight and surprise your customer
Yours truly hired one of her favorite photographers, Davina Fear, for one of Fear's famous "Familyness" sessions.
There were many cool things about this entire process with Davina--but the one our family still talks about to this day was the Summer Bucket List package that arrived 6 months later. It was simple, just a box with confetti & fun family bonding game ideas.
But - it was totally out of the blue, long after we had paid our balance and moved on with our busy lives. We felt so special! But to Davina, it was just another awesome day at the office because of her systems that were designed to surprise and delight.
3. Systems allow you to be you and play to your strengths
The news is out about introverts vs. extroverts in the workplace. And it turns out that introverts and extroverts are going to have WILDLY different systems that work for them.
Case in point: We love Sarah Petty at Joy of Marketing to death. She is one of the most fun, outgoing, confident, interesting mentors out there. The systems that she sells probably ROCK a lot of photographers' worlds out there (more power to them).
But no matter how we tried, her bubbly phone scripts and motivational selling tools just never worked for our studied, introverted souls. And that's okay--because one size does not fit all when it comes to systems for your own business. What works for Joe Cool Photo down the street will most likely never work for you.
That is why we don't really believe in DIY programs--they are designed by very well-meaning people who are NOT YOU. At 16 Hoops, a huge part of our program is mining deep and figuring what is really going to work for you. Are you a procrastinator? Do you hate in-person sales? Do you like to think you should be networking, but really, deep in your soul, know that you won't do it? Do you love meeting new people more than anything? Do you want to dominate the global sphere with your TED talk someday? Do you never, no, not ever want to have employees? Do you know you want to hire a team to run your business someday?
Each of the people I've just described above is a sampling of who should have different systems.
4. Systems allow you to automate and streamline
A few years ago, in our household each night was a frantic open-up-the-fridge-and-pray game. We had no plan. Until...we discovered Taco Tuesdays. Then Pizza Friday.
Now we actually look forward to shopping day--we know exactly what to get and making dinner is (well, almost) a pleasure now.
Build a plan, get down to the molecular level (what "ingredients," or tasks, do you need to "buy," or do, every week?), and stick to it. It's as simple as that, and it will change the way you run your business.
5. Systems give you the option to sell your business someday
Here is the promised land of systems.
Take everything out of your head, and get it down onto paper. Literally: put it in a binder that anyone can step into practically seamlessly and run your business with. This is your payoff for the hard work of building custom systems. You now have a documented system that allows you the freedom to either step away from your business slowly, or sell it outright.
See a pattern here?
The best systems churn away all but unnoticed by your clients and your staff.
You won’t get any thank-yous. You won’t get anyone tweeting how awesome you are. But you will have is a strong, growing, admirable business with clients who come back again and again.
Do it better. Do it with your quiet, elegant, thoughtful systems. Rinse and repeat.