Do you want your employees to think like you do and make decisions just like you or even better than you?
There are situations when documenting a step-by-step procedure might not be the best option, instead you have to come up with rules, policies or guidelines which will help your employees to think strategically and make decisions just like you would or even better than you!
OWEN: My guest today is Tim Francis and he is the founder of Profit Factory. Tim, welcome to the show.
TIM: Good day!
OWEN: So, I think we need to let the listeners understand what they’re going to be learning here. And before we even talk about what they’re going to be learning, the main thing they’re going to be learning today is decision-making guidelines, basically. Where which you can get to your team to basically think the way you think and make decisions just the way you make decisions. But before we even talk about that specifically, you said there are three main things, kind of like three things they have to first of all understand before they even get into the decision-making guidelines. Let’s talk about those.
TIM: Yeah. So, in my main business where I built all my systems as Tim Francis marketing, we have clients as big as $100 million in sales and as small as 300,000. We do a lot of marketing services for them, and through the process of building processes into my new business I discovered that there is a handful of places where I would fail over and over again. And I got through those three big landmines, and my business revenue went up by 50% in just 3 months because of how we’re able to build out systems. So, I’m not someone who is like an internet marketer who’s telling you– I’m not going to tell you how to make a million dollars by telling people how to make a million dollars. How simple that can get sometimes. I am a real live business owner in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. And I helped real brick and mortar, and online businesses that are not in the how to make money space to basically be more profitable through their marketing. That’s my main business. Now since then I’ve had a number of business owners ask me how I did what I did. And so I’ve actually started quietly doing consulting behind the scenes to other business owners. And they run to the same exact same three landmines. And so, I’ve defined what those three landmines and opportunities are. And so, I’ll quickly touch on them and then we can really focus on the second of three which is the decision-making guidelines. Can I mention the three right now?
OWEN: Go ahead, go right in.
TIM: All right, awesome. So, the first landmine is when you don’t have the right people. It’s normal for business owners to believe that they have to have the best talent, and they’re just used to themselves doing everything, that their business is very people dependent. But sometimes as we start systemizing the business we discover that it’s not the talented people that are going to take us to the next level, it’s a different kind of person. And that’s something you know probably talk about in a future conversation. The second of three is where you rely just on step-by-step procedures. You run into a problem because it’s impossible. It’s impossible to write out a procedure for every possible curveball that might come up in your business. And you guys call them policies, I call them decision-making guidelines, Sam Carpenter calls them operating principles. And those operating principles help you in a couple of ways. Number 1, they make it much, much easier for your staff to do work for you. And secondly, when you have strong decision-making guidelines, you don’t have to write a procedure for everything. And so, one of the biggest things that stops my clients and stopped myself, my former self to put in procedures in place was just feeling overwhelmed. Just feeling like, “Oh my goodness, where do I even begin, what do I do to even begin writing out all these procedures.” Because intellectually, I see why I need them, but my goodness, there’s like hundreds and hundreds that I can create and it’s just overwhelming. So we’re going to talk about how decision-making guidelines can get you past that tough hurdle in relatively few steps which is very nice. Now the third and final procedure or I guess landmine is not having a procedure for procedures. So it sounds a little bit goofy but if you think about it, if there’s a specific way, whether you’re using SweetProcess or you’re using a different tool, there is a standardized way to be able to write out your procedures, how you name them, how you label them, what kinds of procedures you want to see included. When it’s time to edit them, when it’s time to create them, when it’s time delete them, how do we keep track of all of them, on and on. And you’re going to actually create a procedure for how to make those procedures. So if we quickly recap or big three here, if we’ve got the right kind of people, people who are comfortable with technology, people who have great attention to detail, people that want to be a team player as part of a machine. And a lot of people, they want a good captain and they want to be a good follower to that. So if we’ve got that kind of person, we’ve got them clear on how to create procedures. And in those instances when there isn’t a procedure they have decision making guidelines to back them up. My goodness, that is a completely game changing situation once you have all three. It’s almost like the holy trinity in my opinion when it comes to really kind of crossing that tipping point when you start feeling, “Oh my goodness, my staff is doing things for me.” They’re doing it flawlessly. They’re doing it efficiently. They don’t have to ask me for help all the time. When you start feeling the leverage of systems really starting to take place in your business, it is magic, and you will never ever want to go back. Because it’s just so beautiful. And this holy trinity of systems is the three items we’re going to talk about and today we’ll talk specifically about those decision-making guidelines.
OWEN: Okay, so that’s good. I wanted to make sure that you give the listener kind of like an overview of what’s going on. Because there’s actually three parts to it and today’s interview is focused on your 6-step process for decision-making guidelines and situations where you want them to think like you and maybe there’s no procedures in place already. How do they may decisions, and this is your way of doing that. So, let’s first of all talk about some mind-blowing results that you’ve gotten from implementing or decision making guidelines in your business. Can we talk about kind of some case study of–?
TIM: Yeah, absolutely.
OWEN: Yeah, go ahead.
TIM: Can I tell a story? Like a true story of something that happened in my business?
OWEN: Awesome, go ahead.
TIM: Sure. So, I had a podcast, I did 77 episodes. And I had lots of listeners all over the world, it was all about marketing. And one day we got this message from this gentleman named Philip in the Czech Republic. And he said, “Hey guys, I really love your podcast. I listen to every single episode. But the most recent episode, I think there’s a problem with the upload. It suddenly just stopped half way through. And then I was upset, where’s the rest of the episode?” He didn’t send the email to me. That’s the first important and very valuable piece of information, is he sent it to email@example.com. I’ve interacted with Philip, I love chatting with him, and that’s great. So I’m not against customer contact, it’s just I’m not the appropriate person to handle technical issues for podcast uploads. So thankfully he sent it to firstname.lastname@example.org, my main assistant, Sarah, she received that email. And here’s the thing Owen, is nowhere in our procedures do we have a procedure called, “What to do when you get complaint from someone in the Czech Republic about a podcast problem.” We don’t have that procedure.
OWEN: It doesn’t exist.
TIM: It doesn’t exist and it never will. In fact it would be ridiculous for us to set-up that procedure. So, as you’ll hear me say probably many times over this three part series is I’ve sincerely believe in letting demand drive decision making. And so, this was a problem that came once. Not twice, not three times, not a hundred times. So we’re not going to create a procedure. Instead, we allow our decision making guidelines to wrap around the entire business, because Sarah didn’t have a procedure to follow. She was able to fall back on the decision making guidelines, or like what you would call our policies in your vocabulary. So, let’s take a quick look at a couple of the decision making guidelines Sarah used to fix the problem without having to ask me for help. The number one decision making guideline in Tim Francis Marketing is you are an ambassador of me, Tim Francis. I am a responsible, caring, and courageous gentleman, I expect you to act the same way.
TIM: So, when she got this message from Philip and Philip was a little bit disappointed, the very first thing that Sarah did was she said, “I’m so sorry this didn’t work out.” She was demonstrating care, and she was also demonstrating being responsible, right? So that was the first decision making guideline. Now, maybe that seems a little bit soft or a little bit airy fairy or whatever, but it’s the vibe that I want our company to have. And the next decision making guideline she looked at is very tangible. It says, how we handle mistakes is a 3-step process. Number 1, we out put the fire. Whatever it takes, we got to just put out the fire so we don’t have this emergency on our hands anymore. Then the next step is to identify what went wrong, figure out a solution and basically put that in email or like package together in a meeting, whatever the appropriate situation is to talk to your supervisor. And then the third step is once it’s been approved by the supervisor, then we distribute it to all affected employees. Because not all employees in a business have to– or contractors have to deal with every situation, so just the affected employees. So, if we look at what Sarah was doing, she was doing exactly that. She received the email, and she started putting out the fire. She didn’t tell me about it but she started putting out the fire. And that fire was, number 1, apologizing to Philip. Then after that because Sarah is the one who uploaded the podcast episode in the first place, she went into our hosting software and she checked the source file, and sure enough, it only half uploaded. So, she then re-uploaded the file, she then republished, and then after that she realized that she needed to test it across multiple platforms. So an iPhone, an iPad, and a MacBook. So she then opened up iTunes, she checked on alternate platforms, and she saw that she had a working solution. So she put out the fire, she figured out the problem and came with a solution. And then lastly she came to me. And so, I received an email and all the meanwhile, and I had no idea any of this was going on. But she emailed me to say, “Tim, Philip from the Czech Republic wrote. Apparently, one of our podcasts didn’t work properly. So I emailed him back to tell him I’d take care of the problem. I looked into it, sure enough, he was right, it didn’t work. The problem was this, the solution is that, this is what I propose how we change our procedure moving forward. And I also contacted Philip once everything was fixed to let him know it was all fixed and to thank him for speaking up.”
OWEN: And I like the fact that you shared a mind blowing story of how this decision making guideline helped to solve a problem. And I like how you were very explicit and showed us the example, and went through it like that. But I think the listener might also be wondering, what exactly will you say is a decision making guideline and why is it important?
TIM: Sure. So, a decision making guideline is going to be a collection of 20 to 40 statements that basically explain how you do business. Now, I think decision making guidelines are probably the most personal of our 3 major documents. So, different people call him different things but we’ve got like an identity statement which is the big picture, this is the industry we are in, this is the products we serve, this is who we serve, this is who we don’t serve, this is what we don’t– that kind of thing is our identity statement. Then we’ve got a decision making guidelines, we’re talking about today. And then our third kind of document is all of our procedures. Like this is how we upload a podcast, this is how we publish our blog post, that kind of thing. So, the most personal I think to the business owner is the decision making guideline. Like Owen, I believe that you have a certain way of doing business that if you shut down SweetProcess today, and I hope that doesn’t happen.
OWEN: I hope not, knock on wood.
TIM: Yes. But if you chose to and you shut down SweetProcess today, or you sold it or something like that, and you decided to go start a shoe store, or you decided to start a car dealership or something like that, you would still carry a lot of the same decision making guidelines with you. Maybe not the–
OWEN: So decision-making guidelines is kind of like your DNA as an entrepreneur is what you’re trying to say?
TIM: Yeah, absolutely. And certainly, that’s shaped by the business that you’re in and the industry. But at the end of the day, because the kind of business I want is a systemized business, and I am Tim Francis and I’m not going to change that much. It’s like it doesn’t matter what business I’m in. I just know that there’s better ways and worst ways to do things. Like I know that the best way to handle a problem is, A, put out the problem, B, come up with a solution, and C, share the solution with the people that around you, right? That is an example of a decision making guideline and often times when staff does not have a procedure to follow. And they follow decision making guideline instead. They’re usually following a combination of tourists for you to help them guide their decision. And so, in the example that I just gave you with Sarah and the podcast episode mistake she was probably depending on, she looked at probably 4 or 5 of the different decision making guidelines and use those to come to her decision. So, you’re an ambassador of me, how we’d put out our mistakes, that kind of thing. She was using multiple guidelines together. So, I can give you examples of other decision making guidelines if you like.
OWEN: Yeah, I think we’ll even cover some of them during the interview. And you also mentioned that the better your decision making guidelines are the fewer the procedures step-by-step that you actually have to make. Why is that?
TIM: So, I’ll give you two examples, one’s from a book, probably most people as soon as they’ve heard and that’s the 4-Hour Workweek, right? So, in the 4-Hour Workweek Tim Ferriss describes a situation where he was getting more, and more customer service email, but not from customers, but from his representatives, the call center he had outsourced. So then Tim put, he doesn’t call this in the book but it’s a decision making guideline in place. He said, any problem that comes up that you can solve for less than $50, just do it. And that single decision making guideline cut down the workload of emails that he got, plus it also significantly cut down his need to create procedures. So instead of him writing a procedure, how do we handle people that want supplements the day before competition. Do we ship to Ireland? Do we do this, do we do that? He could’ve created a procedure for every one of those different situations. But instead he figured out he could just put one decision making guideline in place and it wiped out all the need to create all those other procedures. The best procedure is the one you don’t write.
OWEN: I like that.
TIM: Because it’s time, it’s energy, it’s work, it’s more to managing your business. If you can avoid writing them, by all means, avoid them.
OWEN: And during the pre-interview, you also mentioned that the whole process of creating a decision making guideline is actually incremental and iterative, meaning that you do it over and over. Can you explain that?
TIM: Yeah, for sure. So, anytime I guide my consulting clients who hire me to help them build procedures in their business, it always goes the same way. And it was the exact same way for me too. It was I thought I would sit down and I would just crush it. I thought I would just sit down and then like one 3-hour block I would just come up with all my decision making guidelines and it’d be magic. All 20 to 40 guidelines in one session. But that’s not how it goes. And when I’ve talked to Sam Carpenter who wrote, worked the system. And in the book itself he describes it wasn’t a one-time event either. It was something that happens kind of organically over time. So, for the person listening to this you’ll probably sit down and write down probably 10 to 20 decision making guidelines and you’ll hit a wall. You’ll just say, “Well, I don’t know what else to write. I’m lost. Maybe this is it, maybe there’s nothing more.” But then you’ll be out walking your dog, or you’ll be mowing the lawn, or you’ll be at a family dinner, and all of a sudden it’s like something will just bubble up and you’ll say, “Oh jeez, I should include that.” So you want to make sure you’ve got like a pen and paper, or an iPhone, or something handy as much as you can, as much as it’s appropriate. Maybe you don’t pull it out during dinner but to capture all these new decision making guidelines because they will pop-up. And I don’t know if this inappropriate or whatever but I actually had one of my best decision making guidelines pop up, I was on the can. I was just doing nothing and suddenly it came to me, and my phone was sitting next to the sink. So I pulled that out and I just tapped it in and away we go.
OWEN: So I guess step number 1 is basically make a list. You’re saying sit down and just start, and come out with at least 10 to 20 decision making guidelines. Is it just like a brainstorming, put whatever you want in there?
TIM: Yeah, absolutely. Because they will come. Owen, you know how you like to run business. And some cues of what can help stimulate your thought are things like– for example how do we handle problems, which I just explained, right?
TIM: How do we handle money? In the example of Tim Ferriss one of his decision making guidelines is if you can fix the problem for less than $50 than just do it, right? So it’s like how do you feel about some of these important themes. And I can thank the guys that worked the system for helping prompt me on some of those ideas. Like how much do you care about research and development? How much do you care about– maybe there’s something around your staff. Maybe there’s something around how you handle waste, how you handle discipline, how you handle communication. How you move through your day-to-day and how you make decisions as a business owner, it will just– It’s in you already, you’re not inventing anything it’s in you already. So step 1 is definitely to sit down and just put on paper whatever you can. Step 2 would be something like keeping a pen and paper, or an iPhone or something handy for you to capture ideas as they just come up over the next probably 7 to 14 days. Then after that, the next great indicator of what your decision making guidelines are is just put them into action. Just put them into action in the real world of your business.
OWEN: When you say put into action, basically at this point now you’re saying document the decision making guideline, right?
TIM: What I mean is you should have them documented by now. And at that point it’s like give them to your staff. Like sit your staff down and say, “I’m implementing this new set of decision making guidelines. This is something that’s going to evolve over the next 30 to 60 days.” And I’m expecting us to make our decisions in our business based on these principles, these guidelines, as you would call them policies, right? So, at that point now your staff is going to use them and you as the business owner going to use them. And you’re just going to see what happens. So often is business–
OWEN: A quick question, because I want to make sure the listener is actually following each step. The first one was basically make a list. The second one was put it aside and use a tool like maybe your iPhone or whatever and keep collecting them over time because it’s going to take a while for you to build them up. And then when you’ve built up a certain amount of decision making guidelines step number 3 is actually document them. And I want to dive into that a little bit because the listener might be saying, “Okay, what goes specifically into the decision making guideline document? What should it contain. I want to know the format of it.”
TIM: Right, okay. So, personally I’ve got my decision making guidelines in Google Docs. That’s the tool I use. And it’s literally just a document. Like a person can use Word, they can use notepad. It could be paper and pen if they wanted, it could be SweetProcess. It’s one of those things where it’s not any more difficult than just probably a 2 to 3-page document with 20 to 40 statements, each of which is probably only like 2 to 4 sentences long. It’s almost like 20 to 40 little mini paragraphs and each one discusses a different part of how you make decisions at SweetProcess, at Tim Francis Marketing, or at whatever the business is.
OWEN: So, I’m thinking it basically describes the scenario and then gives them kind of like a roadmap on what they should do but not tell them specifically what they should do. It’s like just tell them the rules and then how they implement the rules of the specific tactics or specific steps they take is up to them, right?
TIM: Yeah, although I would say maybe zoom’s out, just at least the way that I encourage people to set it up is it zooms a little bit more than that because if it’s the rules of the road it says, “Don’t drive faster than 50 kilometers an hour here in Canada, or 30 miles in the U.S. or whatever. And so, there can be some very, very specific laws and numbers. And we’re in a bit of a gray area here because maybe a good guideline is saying if it’s less than $50 an hour, just do it. So, I get that there’s maybe a bit of a gray area there, but usually with my clients and in my own business as soon as you just start doing it you start easily realizing the difference between decision making guidelines and procedures.
OWEN: So I’m thinking that when you feel like it needs to be very specific. At this point it’s kind of a clue to tell you, okay, this needs to be a procedure. But when it doesn’t have to be specific per se and step by step then this is where you make a guideline.
TIM: Right. It’s more kind of like the procedure is when there’s a specific situation, the decision making guideline is more like, “Hey, inside of me Tim Francis, these are like the habits of how we walk through the day.” So for example, decision-making guideline number 8 at Tim Francis Marketing is double check everything before release, right? And so, that decision making guideline, it’s general enough that I don’t have to say everytime you’re in an email or everytime you upload a podcast episode or a blog gets published because the decision making guideline covers everything.
OWEN: I see it. And so, step number 4, you say basically launch it and make your decision making guidelines actionable and used by your team. And so, let’s talk about that.
TIM: The biggest thing that revolutionized photography was the digital camera, like in that last 30 years. And a lot of people say, “Oh, that’s because it’s really easy to edit them and send them around.” Yeah, that’s true, but also one of the biggest factors is feedback. Used in the past like in the 1980’s, you’d have to take a picture, send it off to get developed at the studio, and then it would come back. And you would get feedback like 10 days later, which often times is way too late to get feedback. Whereas with the digital camera you can take a picture and you get feedback immediately, and you get to see instantly what you need to change. So, the feedback cycle is just so fast. And so, in my opinion business these days is less about getting it right the first time and more about just getting it into action, whether that’s a marketing campaign, a website, or a process. So, get your procedures live and see what happens in the real world. As business owners, to get our business from zero to step one we had to do a bunch of maybe research, or get some experience to figure out how to produce our product or service. The after that we move in to step 1. And step 1 is, I’m sorry, level 1 of the business in my opinion is now you’re doing everything, you’re doing everything yourself. You are doing bookkeeping and you’re also cleaning the office. And you’re also taking care of marketing and sales, and you are meeting with clients. You’re doing absolutely everything. And that’s like a level 1 business in my opinion. That’s where a person now has maybe a full-time income from their business. But to make it to the next level, level 2, what I always call level 2 business is you fundamentally have to look at yourself differently. If we compare it to a cruise ship, it’s like we’re used as a business owners looking to go to level 2 it’s like– And to get to that place where you are building systems and you start filling some leverage, you’re no longer think of yourself as the cook on the cruise ship, and the captain, and the person shoveling coal into the engine, and– That’s no long how– Looking at yourself that way is not going to get you to level 2. Looking at yourself differently is necessary. And you need to look at yourself as the shipbuilder. Someone who’s creating blueprints and is on the shore, is not even on the ship. You can go on the ship if you want but ultimately you want to get yourself to a place where you’re designing the ship then you’re sending it out for a week. It’s going to take a bunch of guests, it’s going to go and take them to the Caribbean and back or whatever. And then, when they come back you’re going to get this feedback. They didn’t like this dish, we had a problem with the washing machine, this engine broke down, whatever. And then as the ship builder you say, “Okay, perfect. We’re going to put some patches in, we’re going to fire some people, hire some people, we’re going to modify what’s going on on the ship, and then we’re going to send it out again. And then we’re going to get feedback.” And I think that, that feedback cycle is a business owner operating in reality. We get so caught up in “What if this, what if that–” The best way to find out is just to do it and just see what happens, right? So that’s what I mean in step 4 here, to implement your decision making guidelines in your business and test them. And especially if you have staff too, is you want to see how they handle it, and just observe. Just watch them in action and also listen to them, see what feedback they have to give you. Because in certain ways they may be no more than you do about certain parts of your business, right?
OWEN: Awesome. And you also said during the pre-interview you said, “Let demand drive decision making.” I want to understand what you meant by that?
TIM: Yeah, absolutely. So, like I just said, as business owners, we can oftentimes see the bigger picture whereas our staff might be looking at just a very small, specific part of the business, we can see the whole big picture. And so, when we think about building procedures, it’s very easy to get into like a massive spider web of, “If I’m going to build procedures then we need to do something for taking customer’s money. Okay great, so this is how we process orders?” And then it’s like, “Well, what if somebody wants to refund an order?” Okay, well then we got to do that. But what if somebody wants to exchange an order, what if somebody wants to get a gift card or a credit to their account? Okay, well now we need the system for accounting, and now we need a system for something else. And it just goes on, and on, and on– And it’s like, you still haven’t even written a single procedure and you know that you have to build 100. And it’s like no, no, no– The way Sam Carpenter built his procedures in Centratel, the way I built my procedures in Tim Francis Marketing, and the way that anybody who’s ever built any procedures at anything has always started with just the first procedure. So, there are definitely better and worst procedures to make your first choice and similarly with decision making guidelines. There’s better and worst decision making guidelines to start with. So, I think that this idea of letting demand drive decision-making, that statement “Let demand drive decision making” is a decision making guideline in and of itself for you, me, and other business owners, as we’re moving through the process of building procedures into our business. So, does that help clarify what I mean?
OWEN: So let me see if I can use an example. If you say the situation where something keeps happening over, and over again then maybe I might just have to ask myself is this is something where I can create a decision making guideline so that in the future when this happens, they just use that guideline and get it done based on that guideline. Not necessarily a procedure for you where you step-by-step what they have to do but a guideline on how to handle it if the thing keeps happening over and over again.
TIM: It’s like if the same problem keeps coming up again, and again, and again, maybe I need a procedure, maybe I do, or maybe I need a decision making guideline. Or maybe I just need to hire someone because they’re a cancer inside of my business. Or maybe I need to fire a customer, you know what I mean?
TIM: Maybe I need to go raise some money because that’s my biggest problem. I have orders but I can’t fulfill them because I can’t purchase the raw materials. So, this idea of letting demand drive decision making applies to everything, not just what we’re talking about today, not just to decision making guidelines. But my point I think within today’s podcast episode is that you might be trying, and when I say you I mean whoever’s listening to this, you might be trying to get your decision making guidelines perfect the first time that you write them. That’s just not reality, it’s just [Unintelligible 00:31:59]
OWEN: It’s not always perfect, yeah.
TIM: So, just start with the first 15 to 20 or whatever, put them out there, see what happens, and let demand drive your decision making after that.
OWEN: Awesome. And step number 5, you said let demand also drive other decision making guidelines that you’re going to implement. Can you talk about that because I’m curious?
TIM: Right. So one was to make your first list, two is just to let them come to you for a week, three is to document your decision making guidelines, four is to implement them. Just put them into your business and test them, and tweak. And then from there step 5 is to let that demand drive any other decision-making guideline list. And then, which leads us to number 6 which is just to adapt. It’s been well over a year that we made our big leap with Tim Francis Marketing and we’re still tweaking things, we’re still honing, wording here and there. Because as we just become more and more refined it comes up less and less often however we’re always open to the possibility that we may need to tweak a procedure, we may need to tweak a decision making guideline. There might be a new competitor that comes into the market and now maybe I need to even change the entire direction of my business by a few degrees from left to right.
TIM: Some of the business owners I worked with when I help them create systems in their business is they have this one shot kill mentality. They think of creating procedures as an event. I’m just going to roll out this big procedure campaign and we’re going to put it into action and everything’s going to be fine. It’s like I won the lottery. It’s like all of a sudden I’m rich or I won America’s Got Talent so now I’m famous, as if it’s a lottery, and that’s just not reality. The reality is it’s a process that goes over time, and it’s a process that may never end. It may be something that you’re always refining. But the thing is–
OWEN: So it’s continuous improvement, that’s the mindset to have?
TIM: Yeah, absolutely. And just be at peace with that. And the biggest thing is the hardest work like anything else in your business, and again by saying you I mean anybody listening, is the very beginning. And the same is true with procedures. When you have to create the first 3 to 5 procedures yourself, it takes like an hour to do probably per procedure to really think it out, to write it out. And after you can start getting staff to build procedures for you, and then you’ve got your decision making guidelines in place in this holy trinity, together all three of them, you really start to feel that momentum. And things really start happening. For example for me, I spent 8 days in Los Angeles and I was just playing beach volleyball all day for 2 straight days and I had complete confidence that everything was still running just like clockwork through Tim Francis Marketing, which was spectacular. On that trip Owen, the only curve ball that I had was– I was at a baseball game at Dodgers Stadium and I got a frantic phone call from one of my clients and he said, “Tim, we’ve got this crazy emergency, can you help? This is a big deal.” So I stepped out of the game for like 15 minutes, talked to him. I told him what we needed to fix, and then the next day I rented a condo in Hollywood and I spent 1 hour fixing it, and the rest of the trip was fine. And you know what, some people say “That’s so horrible that you had to take a business call while you’re on vacation.” My opinion is, no, you’re looking at this the wrong way. I was on vacation because I set my business up this way. And if I have to take an hour out here or there that is perfectly fine because the other 7.8 days that I didn’t have to do any business stuff was so worth it.
OWEN: Yeah, definitely. And so I guess now the listener knows that we’re going to bring you back on here to talk about the process for creating processes and procedures for your business. But what will you say is the next step is someone who is listening to the interview so far should take in order to get started with creating their own decision making guideline for their business?
TIM: Yeah, that sounds awesome. So, I would say there’s two things. Number 1, I’ve setup a custom page at profitfactory.com/sweetprocess. And so ProfitFactory is all one word and SweetProcess all is one word, profitfactory.com/sweetprocess. And on that page there’s a cheat sheet and a 39-minute training video that a person can get a hold of. And in that cheat sheet there’s actually examples of decision making guidelines. So, if somebody wants to see from my business what those look like they’re sitting right there and they’re ready to help out whoever’s listening to this. Secondly, if a person is not interested in seeing samples, they’re not interested in seeing the cheat sheet and the training. If they just want to sit down right now and write some decision making guidelines for themselves then I would encourage them to think about how do you do business. And I know that sounds vague but think about things like how do you handle money, how do you handle mistakes, what is your perspective on research and development. Depending on the size of the business, different things will affect different entrepreneurs but it’s almost like a fireside chat. It’s like imagine if you had a mentor or an uncle, or a father or something who just sat you down next to the fireside and said, “Well son, or well daughter, this is how we do business around here. You are a responsible, caring, and courageous gentleman.” And then next up is when mistakes happen in our business this is how we handle it, this is the right way to do it. And then it’s something like, “Yeah, you know what, measure twice, cut once” that old Carpenter saying, like we double check everything before release. And it’s like the collection of behaviors that you want to see in your staff. And what is a behavior? A behavior is based on how people make decisions. So give them some guidelines on how to make decisions, right?
TIM: So that’s what I would do next.
OWEN: And so what books will you say have influenced this way of thinking for you and why?
TIM: If I could recommend only one book it’d be Work the System by Sam Carpenter.
OWEN: Awesome, yeah.
TIM: Yeah. I used to think no book would ever beat the E-Myth by Michael Berger but then Sam put out his book, and especially the last– I found from probably chapter 6 or 7 onwards is where really started hitting hard with great examples. Sam and I know each other and I’ve taken his training as well and it’s exceptional as well. So those are great resources. And I would say probably the book that got me the most excited about building automation and systemization to my business is definitely the 4-Hour Workweek. So, I think that there’s some danger around the 4-Hour Workweek because the culture around it is, “Hey, I want to do nothing.” And the thing is the world doesn’t give you money for nothing, you still have to produce a value. And so, the 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss is an exceptional writer, he’s a great copywriter, he studied a lot of Dan Kennedy and actually Perry Marshall as well. And so it’s a great book for a lot of maybe unexpected reasons. And some people have actually told me that the consulting and training that I offer is almost like the sequel to the 4-Hour Workweek because what I offer is so specific about do this, then do that, here’s templates, here’s examples. So I’d say 4-Hour Workweek got me excited and then Work the System gave me a lot more tangible tools. And I’ve since adapted all of that into my 39-minute training and cheat sheet that people can get at profitfactory.com/sweetprocess.
OWEN: Awesome. And so, what’s the best way for the listeners to connect with you and thank you for doing the interview?
TIM: You know what, the best way is if they do go too the URL that I mentioned, if they grab the free report and cheat sheet then they’ll start receiving a few emails from me, and they can just reply to that. And my team will make sure that I get whatever emails that come in. Secondly, we do have a 1-800 number for Tim Francis Marketing, and you can contact me through that, even if it’s not about marketing, if it’s about procedures. So that number is on our website at timfrancismarketing.com.
OWEN: And I’m curious, last question for you. Is there a question that you were wishing I asked you during the interview that I didn’t ask. And if so, post the question and the answer?
TIM: I think one of the biggest things is just I lost probably around 10 grand the very, very first time that I started creating systems into my own business. And it’s because I hired the wrong people it’s because I didn’t have procedures, I didn’t have that holy trinity. And it wasn’t the right time in my business. I was at level 0, level 1 where I didn’t even really know what my process was.
OWEN: And I like the fact you’re saying that because you’re basically saying that you’re now at that point where you even need to start systematizing, the problem there was the sales and marketing, understand how to drive people in the business in the first place, not systematizing it. Go ahead. Sorry, I just got excited.
TIM: Yeah, I agree with you totally. It’s like I said before, level 0 market research and a little bit of sales is what you need to be doing, not systemizing. Level 1, you need to really be selling and to be face-to-face to figure out how to even sell what it is that you’re doing.
OWEN: How the business works, yeah.
TIM: Yeah, absolutely. But it’s still not time to systemize. So, if you’re at either of those 2 stages, do the appropriate things for those stages, don’t do anything you learn from me today. If you’re at that point though where you have a business, you’re making at least a part time, probably a full-time income from it, you’ve figured out why people are buying from you and how your business kind of works at a basic level. Then I believe the business only needs to focus on 3 core activities. One is systems, the second is marketing, to just bring in more leads into the business to be closed. And then third is leadership. is to give your team a clear set of documents to follow. To be the chief, as Sam Carpenter says, the chief reminding officer so that your staff remembers to use the procedures. And if they fall off course just gently reminding them. And also, to be the chief resource officer. This is something I discovered in my own business. In the beginning of creating procedures I was able to tell my staff how to do everything because I knew myself how to run WordPress, I myself knew how to run Infusionsoft and all these different tools. But then we got to a point where my staff could do everything that I could do pretty much, but we needed to do more. And so, we were into this new territory where I couldn’t be the coach anymore. And so, I became the chief resource officer where I said to my staff, “Okay look, we hire Bluehost, we get hosting from them. So, they have tech support. Talk to them to see how we can migrate this website. If you get stuck there then go talk to this plug-in that I paid for, talk to their support. And if you’re still stuck, I’ve pre-funded my E-lance account for $50 for you to go and get consulting from an IT professional on E-lance. I authorize you to spend up to $50 to get a couple of hours consulting so they can tell you what to do. And to this day Owen, I still don’t know how to do the task that I paid for, but that’s perfect because I was just the resource officer that connected my staff to the resources that they need. And my stuff, A, got it figured out, B, fixed it and accomplished the task, and then C, because they have my procedure for making procedures, they went and wrote out the whole procedure. So now, if they need to train other staff it’s sitting there. Or, if my main staff dies, moves away, or otherwise changes their mind about my business, there now is a procedure that I could follow to go learn how to do that.
OWEN: On that note I’m actually going to leave you to actually make the invite to you to come back to do a part 2 of this interview where we talk about the procedure for creating procedures.
TIM: Let’s do it.
OWEN: And now, speaking to the listener, if you enjoyed this interview so far I want you to go ahead and leave us a review, hopefully a positive 5-star review on iTunes, and to do that you go to sweetprocess.com/iTunes. And the reason to leave a positive review is when you leave reviews people are going to read it and be excited about it, come and check out the interview. And they’ll probably find it as useful as you did and basically attracting more eyeballs and listeners whatever to our podcast. And we’ll be inspired to go out there and get people like Tim Francis to come on here and talk about how they’ve been able to systemize their business. And you know another entrepreneur who find this interview useful please share with them. And final note, if you are at that point in your business where you’re tired of being the bottleneck and you want to get everything out of your head so your employees know step-by-step what you know, well, sign-up for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess. Tim, we’re done.
TIM: We are. And at the same time we’re just getting started, we’ve got two more to go.