You will also discover what steps she took to find her employees, how she implemented a ticketing and inventory management system, how she uses a daily morning checklist to make sure her business is on track, and how she has been able to transform and systematize her entire business so that it runs without her successfully.
OWEN: My guest today Georgette Blau and she is the president of On Location Tours. Georgette, welcome to the show.
GEORGETTE: Thank you for having me.
OWEN: So let’s dive right in. What is exactly does your company do and what big pain do you solve for your customers?
GEORGETTE: Well, actually run On Location Tours, and we’re the largest TV and movie tour company in the world. We mainly run bus tours. We have the Sex and the City Tour, the Gossip Girl Tour, the Sopranos Tour, the New York TV and movie tour, the Boston TV and movie Tour, the Turner Classic Movies Tour, and the TMZ Tour. We run two walking tours, the Central Park Movie Tour and the Boston Movie Mile. So we run in New York and Boston and we really just sell that sort of escapism for people who want to see the locations and movies, and TV shows and want to escape into that world.
OWEN: Awesome. So basically, you watch a show and you want to be part of the show by viewing their locations and all that. Your company allows that for the fans. I like that. So, how many full-time employees do you have? I’m just curious.
GEORGETTE: I have eight full-time employees.
OWEN: And just because my listeners always want to know the scale of the business, what will you say was last year’s revenue and what do you probably expected to do this year?
GEORGETTE: It’s over a million dollars.
OWEN: Awesome. And so, this whole interview is all about showing the transformation of your business from how you were able to take it from you being the one responsible for having everything. Basically being the bottleneck, to the point now where the business runs without you. So, first of all what would you say back then was the lowest point of the business and describe how bad it got.
GEORGETTE: Right. I’m just going to tell them I’m doing a Skype interview because it’s a little bit loud in the background. I apologize. Sorry, I’m doing a Skype interview. It’s being recorded.
OWEN: No problem. And listeners can see it’s live. We’re going with the interview like that. Go ahead.
GEORGETTE: Okay. So basically, the most difficult and challenging part was wearing so many hats. And because I wasn’t hiring someone to help me with a lot of things, I was actually not having enough time to develop the business. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I really started hiring people and beefing things up in order to develop the company further. I can go into a little bit more detail in a minute but what I gave away first, what I gave away second and third, But at the beginning I was answering the phones, I was doing the bookkeeping, I was doing tour guiding, a lot of the same [Unknown word 00:02:51] I hate to say tedious tasks. But a lot of the things where I wasn’t able to focus on writing the scripts for the buses, hiring tour guides, and doing bus routes. And majorly I had no time to market it so ironically I wasn’t getting as many people in the tours because I just don’t have the time to reach out.
OWEN: I understand. So you do remember back then a specific situation or even a story of when you just probably reached your breaking point where you realize you have to change the way things were going?
GEORGETTE: Yeah, absolutely. I would say really one example was February of 2004. We were on the last episode of Sex and the City and at that point, because we’re mentioned we were turning away at least 300 people a week on the tours. So it was unbelievable. We just didn’t have enough tour guides. I said this is really crazy to turn away this kind of business. And in the mean time I was tour guiding, I didn’t have time to hire the tour guide. So that was definitely one of my breaking points in March of 2005 for two weeks straight I shut my office door and I hired approximately 5 new tour guides. And that just helped alleviate, and at that point I didn’t have to tour guide anymore. So that pulled a huge amount of time off my shoulders. I hired these great tour guides that did a better job than I could.
OWEN: Awesome. So let’s dive right in deep to that. So what would you say was the very next thing you did to solve the problem you mentioned earlier?
GEORGETTE: Sure. And this is something that I really recommend to a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners is if you can’t afford somebody hire an intern, pay them a stipend, whatever you can afford. But even it’s just to hire them and they use it for college credit or the experience, they’re able to have the experience in an office, have to experience in a business. And on the flip side you’re able to give a lot of the tasks and trying to make them educational. But it really takes a lot off your shoulders. And even if half of them are more administrative tasks and half of them are learning tasks, at least you’re able to lift off a lot of your shoulder. Because I think a lot of people go in and say, “Well, I don’t have some money to hire some full-time person right at the beginning.”
OWEN: Yeah. So the first thing you did was hire an intern. And I’m curious, can you show the listeners how you found the interns, and also maybe how you determine the first set of things to delegate to the intern?
GEORGETTE: Actually, I definitely had enough things at the beginning, really a lot of things that I was doing. For example, the intern was answering some of the calls, putting some of the reservations in, finding some of locations like pinpointing them on maps, doing some of the research, going to some of the venues to see if they could work with us and be stops on the tours. They’re researching the behind-the-scenes on the tours, doing online research to find groups to reach out to, doing online research to see websites we could be on. So there was just a lot that I was working on that I was working with an intern and handing off some of it. Some of the research would take me hours, so that was a big thing that helped.
OWEN: Yeah. So basically what I’m getting from that is you’re looking at what was the biggest bottleneck of your time. So let me start with that. And at that point it seemed that a lot of the research was the starting point. So you started with that. And so, during the pre-interview you also mentioned after getting familiar with the interns and starting to delegate some of the bottleneck task to them. The next thing you did was hiring an operations person and then a marketing person second. Let’s talk about the decision behind that. Why did you hire an operations person first and then marketing person second? I’m just curious.
GEORGETTE: Yeah. Really operations was the easiest thing for me to give away first because that was the one that was burning the fires and something that was the easiest to hand-off in the sense that… I should go back a step and say I really handed off the first thing at the same time an intern and two tour guides. Because doing the tours was the easy thing to hand-off.
OWEN: Okay. And I can see that too because you were mentioning earlier that one of the breaking point was having those many people reaching out for you guys to do tours and you couldn’t deliver to them. So you had the issues of research bothering you as well as the tour. I can see that.
GEORGETTE: And that was like, “Wait a second, this is money that’s going out the window”, that kind of thing. So basically the big thing for me was hiring, that was my first full-time person, an operations person. And that was something that was kind of easy because if there were systems– The systems were already in place, or systems that they had to put into place. But they did things like hiring tour guides or at least screening them. I would always meet them second. They would schedule the tour guides, schedule the buses with customer service issues and things like that. When I decided next to hand-off the marketing that was something that, first of all, I loved. So that was hard for me to handle. But also, marketing was much more difficult because marketing is not streamlined. It’s like, “Oh my gosh, you can go a hundred ways with it.” So, it wasn’t easy to train. With operations I trained somebody in a few weeks and it was like, “Here you go. Please handle this. Take it from here.”
OWEN: And I can see that because what we’ve discovered so far is you being the CEO, you have all these vision of where you want to take the business, the grand vision and all that. And then I can see the importance in where you now decide you want to get an operations person so that person can literally turn those visions you have into detailed step-by-step of how it’s actually done. And rally the team around achieving that. Is that what you were thinking when you wanted to go after the operations person first? I’m just curious.
GEORGETTE: Yes. And I’m sorry, I didn’t catch the very last of what you were saying.
OWEN: No. I was just saying was the main thing basically getting the operations person so that they can turn your vision and all the things that you had planned into reality by carrying out the details behind it.
GEORGETTE: Yes. And in fact it was very important to get a detail oriented, organized person to begin with because this is something operations has to be right on the money, very organized. And they were really good about not only carrying out the vision, the quality of the tours, but also… I would say marketing was my real step of somebody who was carrying out the vision. But anybody who I’ve hired over the years, they definitely have to understand the vision of the company and be passionate about it.
OWEN: Yeah. So, let’s talk about the marketing side because you said you were a little bit hesitant on delegating this one. Because not only do you like it but there are so many different ways you could go on the marketing route. So, I’m just curious. Walk us through how you did it when you came to hiring the marketing person. What was the issue you were trying to have the marketing person handle or take over from you? And how did you guide them into actually delivering on it?
GEORGETTE: It’s interesting, with the operations person it’s more of putting out immediate fires. But with marketing it was more like going after opportunities that were going to pass us. Or there were so many opportunities that I didn’t have the time to go after or build the relationships. And so, that was why the marketing person was able to go after my big list. I had a huge list when the marketing person came in and different potential opportunities.
OWEN: Oh okay. So when they came in you had a huge list of marketing ideas you wanted to achieve. So walk us through it. Just give us a couple of things that you had them do when they came in. I’m just curious.
GEORGETTE: Yeah. At the time funny enough, this was in 2005. So, I’m kind of laughing because this was a… helping to build our website. We already had a website, it was very simple. So developing that further, dealing with the locations that we’re passing. A lot of them started paying us advertising, putting together a tour book that was handed to all the customers, a lot of press outreach. So about half the job was reaching out to press. There were so many press opportunities I had missed because I just didn’t have the time. A lot of cross promotional opportunities, printing, dealing with printing rack cards and brochures for the hotels, meeting with some concierges, and meeting with the other attractions in New York because we kind of traded ideas.
OWEN: Okay. I see the list of things that you actually had that person do. And you mentioned earlier how you were looking for the operations person, the person had to, based on the nature of the job they had to be detail oriented. But in terms of the market and just for the listener who’s listening to this, what was the key criteria that you used in selecting the person in terms of the key character trait that person has to have?
GEORGETTE: I would say creative but I didn’t want somebody who is too right brained because I wanted somebody who would really follow-up. So, I ended up hiring somebody who is really great at overall multitasking like able to deal with 20 different things at once and really following up on all of them. So that was very important.
OWEN: Awesome. So now, we also talked about how you now hired a tour guide. So let’s talk about the process behind that and probably how you went about selecting the right people to help you with the tours and stuff like that.
GEORGETTE: The operations person helps me with that. But then the marketing person ends up communicating to the tour guides about ongoing things. But our tour guides are considered to the best in New York and Boston, and that’s really because I started focusing early on in really having the best guides. We’re movie tours, this is like a really creative type of tour, a unique thing, so we need to have great tour guides. And they’re really the best part of the experience. We only hire actors and actresses. And the only…
OWEN: I’m curious. Why did you choose to only hire actors and actresses to act as tour guides?
GEORGETTE: Yeah. And for three different reasons I should say, which I should dig-in to deeper because it’s an interesting. One. because of the schedule, they have a flexible schedule.
GEORGETTE: And they were able to switch out with each other if they had an audition. So they were kind of the same schedules with each other. The second was because of the outgoing personalities.
GEORGETTE: They’re very engaging people. And even if something happened with the bus or something they were able to go with it.
OWEN: They can improvise. That’s the nature of their job.
GEORGETTE: Exactly. That’s literally what they were doing. And then the third reason, probably the most obvious was because they’ve been on a lot of these sets. So even if they weren’t on these particular sets that they were doing the tours for they were able to say, “Hey, I was on a similar set and the camera angles were very interesting.” So they’re able to give a lot of extra behind-the-scenes in that way.
OWEN: I’m glad how you shared the details behind that. And also, now we’re talking about how the fact that your business actually has systems in place that lets it run without you. So what specific systems do you now have that enable the business to run without you for the most part? I think during the pre-interview you mentioned the internal ticketing inventory system?
OWEN: Let’s talk about that.
GEORGETTE: Yeah. Zerve is amazing. We’ve been with Zerve since 2001.
OWEN: What is that? Is that Zerve?
GEORGETTE: Yes. And actually since 2003 is when they launched. So for 11 years now they’re our internal ticketing system and they’re always adding features. But basically what it is, is half of our people use the system to book the tickets. And the other half that are through places like Expedia, they’re actually just put into the system so we can manage all of our inventory there. But we can also do things like if a person doesn’t make a tour we can turn their tickets into gift certificates. We could refund through the system, we can put in our own direct press people or tour operators in the system. We can put in discount codes. And if somebody has a message in this system like a buyer we can tell the tour guide, it’s so and so’s birthday, or so and so’s in a wheelchair, something like that. So, everybody can login to the system and see what’s there, which is great. And even it’s not Zerve, if it’s a different type of business I highly recommend something where everybody can login to. It’s just a great way of communicating.
OWEN: Awesome. So I see how Zerve, and correct me if I’m wrong, is helping in the standpoint of helping customers to buy tickets for the tours on the first part?
GEORGETTE: Yes. Exactly. That’s the first part of it. So we actually use the backend, but people like a customer will go in and realize that as they’re checking out it’s almost like a Ticketmaster that they’re buying from.
OWEN: And so, how does it act as an inventory system? I guess that’s on the backend, I’m curious.
GEORGETTE: Exactly. So, we have all the tours listed and the customer will just see the purchase page and then after they take a tour they’ll get a review request. But we actually are able to put in the tours by whatever time we want to put in. We have all the tours listed by number of seats. So, as people are going in and buying seats they’re pulling for the inventory.
OWEN: Okay. So you’re listening to availability of the bus and maybe the amount of seat spaces involved, and also the routes and stuff like that. So that’s kind of the inventory part of it, right?
OWEN: Okay. And then it’s interfacing with the backend to see how many available… Okay, I get that. And so, you said Zerve helps you with that, both the ticketing and inventory. And you also mentioned during the pre-interview that another thing you guys did was you always have a morning checklist that you go through. Can you talk about that?
GEORGETTE: Sure. Pretty recently, in the last year or two we created a morning binder where somebody has to initial, the person who handles it in the morning and it’s only one of three people who are handling it. And there’s fields is basically like an Excel sheet of 10 or 12 fields. And they come in and they have to complete it. Basically it’s completed within the first hour that they’re here. It only takes 15 minutes, but it’s things like confirming the buses, confirming the tour guides, putting t-shirts into the bags going down to the tours for trivia prizes, things like that. And things like just simple, like the 2-minute call to the bus company has saved us because sometimes the bus companies will screw up the time of the tour or something. And we’re just able to… It’s amazing, the bus is fixed anything at that point. And it saved us because in the past we would not have a bus there and all of a sudden we realized it’s in New Jersey, an hour away. So, it’s really saved us and saved a lot of customers [Unintelligible 00:19:11], and then confirming the guides. About a year and a half ago where we had a situation with the tour guide who didn’t realize that they were on the calendar for that day, so didn’t show up to the tour. So that eliminated all that. And I can’t even tell you that process takes 2 minutes. And the entire process takes 15 minutes. So, it’s absolutely great. And I’m able to pinpoint who’s signing off.
OWEN: So what I get from that is basically the entire experience that you want to deliver to the guest, and also on one part that also handles part of the checklist. And the checklist also makes sure all the things that the staff has to do in order to deliver that experience to the guest. You guys literally have them in the checklist so that the person who’s checking as they’re going, they’re taking this action. And that literally makes sure that the experience is always predictable on the standpoint of the customer.
GEORGETTE: Yeah. It takes away literally 98% of the unpredictability, which is great. Because in the past it was like, “No, a bus didn’t show up.” Now, it’s pretty predicting… hopefully it will go well.
OWEN: Awesome. And you also mentioned that you guys have weekly marketing and company meetings. How does this play a role from the standpoint of allowing the business to run on autopilot? I’m just curious.
GEORGETTE: Yeah, it’s great. We’ve even recently not only setup the specific dates and times for these company and marketing meetings but we actually started bringing our own agendas. So that saved a lot of time instead of sitting around and brainstorming for an hour where it’s much more efficient. In general the meetings are efficient. They’re going over a bunch of things at once. We’re not taking time out of our day to send a million emails to each other, we’re just kind of saving it up. So we’re only emailing each other about things that are more important.
GEORGETTE: So, it’s great to save time, great to just have that communication set. It’s something that everybody can expect. We know we’re going to have that meeting, we try to keep it to a half hour per meeting.
OWEN: Yeah, I like that. So, this is a question my listeners like when I ask my guests. Imagine your business is like a conveyor belt. On one end is somebody who’s fan of a show who’s probably considering getting more experience by checking out the locations for the show that they like. The person’s on that end of the conveyor belt. And then that same person on the other end of this conveyor belt is now a raving fan of your business and what you do because they’ve actually become a customer. But behind the scenes, there are people, systems, and processes all acting together behind the scenes. So I want you to give the listeners a kind of like a behind the scene of what’s going on to get that transformation to happen.
GEORGETTE: Yeah. And it’s funny because…
OWEN: And feel free to start from the marketing, all the way to production, all the way to them being raving customers. Go ahead.
GEORGETTE: Absolutely. Basically, I would say it’s a direct sales coming from anybody on our marketing team either traditional marketing or SEO digital marketing manager. So that’s the direct sales and the same place on their conveyor belt is the sales person. So the sales person is selling to outside companies that are then feeding people into us. And so, you have those few people that are then pushing it to operations, which then pushes it to reservations. So the reservation will come in. And then after that you basically have the customer. And then after the customer sort of bookkeeping because the customer isn’t really the final stage. You have the bookkeeping and some post marketing like [Unintelligible 00:23:33] more review requests and things like that, and newsletters after the fact. And the customer I would say is on the same place as the tour guide.
OWEN: Okay. I like how you kind of give them a walkthrough of what’s going on behind the scenes. So I’m curious, creating systems and all that, it’s actually a challenge. I’m curious, what challenges did you experience when you initially tried to create the systems that you have today and how did you solve them?
GEORGETTE: Do you mean more like experience by experience, or–
OWEN: Yeah. As deep as you’re willing to go in terms of the different challenges, specifically when it came to you being able to create systems, and what you did to quell them.
GEORGETTE: I would say the first system I really put into place, it was about 4 years after the business but was Zerve the first successful system. Before that I had things in binders and using Excel sheets. Oh my god, it was embarrassing. So that really saved me to have on central system. And then I could login to that system in Australia, wherever I was traveling. And everything operationally was in that system. So customer information, reservations, and things like that. The other thing I would say as far as the lowest point in approximately 2006 I created a whole secret shopper program where we have a few people a week who will get forms for us. And it’s just a 2-page simple secret shopper mystery shopper form and they’ll fill it out. Take a tour for free, fill it out. I then get the customer feedback to the tour guides. Just a little bit of paranoia that there might be a secret shopper on that tour helps a whole bunch. So, they were also even in on with great tour guides, we’re able to just figure out a little bit better how to do things or what really worked in the tour and things like that. But the reason I came up with that system was at our lowest point. Around 2006 I had a number of tour guides who were just doing their own show, not following the route. And we wanted to have better control of them. Years before when the steps we did to kind of prevent that but it didn’t work enough was to make them employees instead of subcontractors. Almost every tour guide in New York is a subcontractor. But we wanted to make sure that we had control over them with the same type of script almost, and improvising a little bit, being able to wear a uniform, going the same route. We had these routes set up for a reason, and when they started skipping the locations they weren’t doing their job. So, to have an extra layer of protection we set up the secret shopper.
OWEN: Yeah, I like that. And what was the challenge that you mentioned specifically that has to do with your operations employee not adding inventory correctly? I’m curious.
GEORGETTE: Yes. In fact, I did have around that time another low point where I had an operations person. I kept looking at the inventory, I couldn’t develop the company further because I have to look at inventory several times a day. We were turning down a couple hundred people a week. Mainly because we weren’t adding enough inventory. And if you’re at the point where you absolutely can’t add anymore because you don’t have enough tour guides you really have to hire tour guides. And she was not telling me to even hire more tour guides.
OWEN: Okay, I get that. So basically the fact that inventory was not being added which should’ve been looked up from her eyes a trigger, okay, this is now where we go and hire more people.
GEORGETTE: Yeah, exactly. If you come to me and say, “I just can’t add anymore inventory.” Then I need a good reason to see why you’re not posting for tour rides.
OWEN: I get that. And also, you mentioned that another issue that you had was also you kind of trust only yourself to come up with procedures, processes, and systems for the business. And that’s kind of a challenge. Talk about that.
GEORGETTE: Yeah. I think I just really need, and this is something I’m working on, is to sit in one of the meetings and say to the employees “What type of processes and procedures would help you in your job and what do you think we should implement?” Or even to help each other but also taking it a step further and saying, “All right, I need help with this. You need to help me just kind of throw around ideas. You need to help plan this together because you’re going to be the one to use this.”
GEORGETTE: You definitely need to… Recently, we had meeting when we went over how to be more productive and work more efficiently and we came up with several things that we needed to. And I actually spread out and immediately gave one thing to each person that they had to do. One thing was calling… The internet was slow so we had to call to figure out what the issue with that. They were small tasks but things that would help the entire company overall.
OWEN: Yeah, and given that creating systems for your business, you talked about all the challenges you even face initially. I’m curious. How did you even stayed committed to that new direction of trying to systematize your business initially given all the challenges?
GEORGETTE: Yeah, to commit to be like consistent almost?
OWEN: Yeah, to actually doing the work to systematize your business, I’m just curious.
GEORGETTE: Yeah, absolutely. It does take a lot of work because I’m a very creative right brain person, and for me to almost step in to the left-brain side and say, “This seems like some kind of a [Unknown word 00:29:46] thing that we’re like robots coming in every day and doing the same thing. But unfortunately that’s the way the business world works and it just helps you to systematize, makes your life easier, and gives you more time to develop your company further. And a lot of times I have to say on a side note I didn’t even have time to build these systems. “I don’t have the time.” But once I got around it I realized this didn’t take that long and overall in the period of a year it saves weeks and weeks of time. They were just some of the systems would just take a few hours to build. And their impact is amazing.
OWEN: Yeah, and you mentioned something just now where you said you tend to be more on the right brain, I guess more creative, but then realizing that in order to have the success in the business that you need you also have to change the brain sometimes and be on the left brain. I wonder, how did you make the balance and how do you manage that whole process.
GEORGETTE: Yeah, one of the things for me is that because I’ve been in this business for 15 years by now I kind of become an operations person. I understand the operations, procedures almost like I were left-brain because it’s so part of me. So I’ve had to step into that. And I just had to take little things during my day to become more of a logical person. One little thing for example is with my email, it’s like trying to only check emails during certain times of the day. Unsubscribing to a lot of those things. All the newsletters and things you get [Unintelligible 00:31:22] sales that you’ll get a hundred times a day. So, that one minute of unsubscribing. So just teaching myself again that those [Unintelligible 00:31:30] are going to save you a long time. not multitasking, and trying to stay on one thing at a time. I’m trying to think of other things that saved a lot of time. Making a list of not more than 10 things to do a day. Just to not show that Rome was built in a day.
OWEN: Yeah. It’s a gradual process of ongoing improvement. That’s what I’m getting from that. And also, you’ve already kind of mentioned, alluded somewhat to this next question because you talked a but some of the systems you already have in place that enables the employees to know what to do. You talk about the weekly meeting as well as how Zerve helped with ticketing and management of inventory as well. And then I’m just curious, is there any other systems that we’ve not have talked about at this point regarding the business?
GEORGETTE: I think I have some systems that are specifically for different employees. We could talk about that.
OWEN: Yeah, we could talk about as many as you want to share. Go ahead.
GEORGETTE: Yes. For the majority of my employees, especially ones that are handling marketing and sales I do have [No audio 00:32:46] to send me a pretty detailed daily report of what they’re working on. And to be honest with you sometimes I want to use that because I talk to a lot of my employees a lot more than I should. So, I sometimes think, “Oh my goodness, I really should have a daily report in general.” In fact, my husband uses a start of day report of what people plan on working on during the day. I always do an end of day report, so I think both work well for different reasons. But we have our weekly meeting, we have our one-on-one meetings with different employees generally on Wednesday so it’s kind of them middle of the week. But having that tailored report when I go away. Everybody has it’s centralized Zerve that is able to track things and you can login and see what’s going on. It’s time stamped, it’s stamped by the person using it. So we know who wrote whatever in even if they forget to write in who they are, we know that. We have a phone schedule so that there’s no kind of complaining about, “Oh, I was on the phone more than so and so.” So that’s been good. We try to be really fair with that. We’re a small company so we have things like boxes. We don’t have anybody to break them down. So we have different days of the week assigned to who’s going to break down the boxes on what day. And people really don’t mind.
OWEN: Boxes for what, I’m curious.
GEORGETTE: Oh actually, it’s funny when you get boxes in all day of t-shirts being shipped off.
OWEN: Oh okay.
GEORGETTE: So too many boxes. And them morning checklist items I mentioned before. There are usually three people that come in and do that. But everybody knows by now. And we know the person that would handling it for each day.
OWEN: I’m curious. You had a lot of these tools that kind of help communication back and forth and you mentioned some of the systems that you have. I’m curious. How do you document procedures and what tools are you using for that?
GEORGETTE: Yeah, Do you mean as far as employee manual, things like that?
GEORGETTE: Yeah. We have a big employee manual I put together about 7 years ago. We always add to it if there’s something we need to add to it. I’m actually just about to start doing… Somebody recommended to me to do a monthly newsletter of sales. It sounds funny because I see these people on a daily basis.
OWEN: Why is that important, I’m curious.
GEORGETTE: I think half the company is working on things like marketing has no idea how sales are doing.
OWEN: Okay, yeah.
GEORGETTE: So, it’s sort of important to say, “Oh, we’re at this point but it’s not as good as this particular year or that particular year.” And also things like it’s hard to remember everything to communicate or what you have communicated to everybody. So that’s one central place to put– Like the press that we’ve had over the month, and big wins, challenges, and things like that.
OWEN: I get that. That way everybody literally knows the progress of the business and what they’re doing, maybe not directly related, is actually helping the company achieve his goals.
OWEN: I get that. That’s a good tip. So how do you track and verify the results being delivered by your employees?
GEORGETTE: Yeah, it’s interesting. I have very different employees in the sense. So one is handling traditional marketing, another handles SEO. Even a lot of the employees don’t understand what other is working on in a sense. So we have very little that’s centralized, but each person, even down to operations and sales, and like I’m saying before marketing, very different position. Everybody has different goals. With operations it’s more to make things run smoothly. And that’s bonus-based where it’s like group sales, and also my FIT individual sales person, It’s called FIT, will handle the groups and individual bookings they get commissioned on top of their base. My SEO digital marketing manager, some of her goals for example are getting actual likes on Facebook, getting more traffic to our website, or certain links to our website. A number of retweets and how many extra TripAdvisor reviews, things like that. Our marketing assistant, he’s pretty new, and he’s actually new to the corporate world, right out of college. So, we try to give him 30, 60, and 90 day goals not only of what he’s working on but we try to tie them to like improving his writing and his design skills. And honestly, goals, believe it or not are very new to me.
OWEN: You even mentioned during the pre-interview of how in the past, for a number of years you’re actually bad at giving goals. And I’m just curious, for you to share the story of how you even came about figuring out the best way now to actually give goals, which you call smart goals I think.
GEORGETTE: Yeah, so the smart goal system is the 30, 60, 90 days. And the projects that are easier to do that take 30 days. Some take 60 days, some take 90 days. So they have to be completed by the 30, 60, or the 90 days. I also tie them into skills. So like I’m saying before writing or design skills. Also having, for example, the goals in place where somebody can do 50% to 100% of the goals. So 50% required, a 100% you get extra money, that kind of thing. But goals to being here literally only a few months old, I never had a lot of budget in place of goals or something that this year I’ve worked really hard on. For somebody who’s new, I have one on one meetings everyday with that person.
GEORGETTE: And then break it down a little bit more goals-wise. And then I have an overall long-term goals with those people as well even if they’re new. But it’s just broken down to more of the day, and the month, and the quarter. and the year.
OWEN: And so, now that the business literally runs without you, I’m just curious, what would you say have been the longest time you’ve actually been away from your business?
GEORGETTE: Actually, 2 and a half weeks when I got married and had my honeymoon. It was 2 and a half weeks. I’m proud of that two and a half weeks…
OWEN: I’m definitely sure of that because I’m imagining if you had gotten married a couple of years back before you systematized this, just so the listener will understand how would it have been. Would you have been able to take that vacation to–
GEORGETTE: I would’ve been so worried of the business falling apart or my employees just sitting around.
OWEN: So how will you say the company had actually been transformed as a result of you systematizing the business?
GEORGETTE: Oh, it’s incredible. People are responsible for things. I know what to expect. When I come in the morning, when I leave every employee knows what to expect. There’s more predictability about it but it makes things kind of cleaner that way. There’s better communication, there’s better ownership.
OWEN: Yeah. And also from a personal standpoint how has your personal life been transformed as a result?
GEORGETTE: I’m much calmer now. The predictability helps. I’m able to also develop the business a little more so I feel better in my personal life. And in a lot of the systems, I can login from home, I can work from home. In my personal life I’m able to spend more time with my son. I have a two and a half year old son. I’m able to write more because that’s what I do on the side is writing. So, that’s been really great. So these systems have definitely saved my life in a way.
OWEN: And with all these much free time that you have compared to back in the day I’m curious, now which areas of the business to you spend more time and focusing on now and why?
GEORGETTE: Definitely developing new tours. I spend a lot more time on marketing and on to supervising people where I used to hide in my office for hours a day to put out fires. Now, if I’m hiding in my office to create a new system that will save me many hours down the road. And I’m really able to focus much more on the development side of things. And also getting out and meeting people.
OWEN: Awesome. And so, what will you say is the very next step that the listener who’s been listening so far all the way to this point of the interview, what will you say is the next thing that they should do in order to at least get their business transformed so they can run without them?
GEORGETTE: I think the first step really depends on what size the business. So, the new business like I was saying, try to go and hire an intern or at least one part-time employee. If it’s somebody who’s a little bit further along to try to set aside a few hours to create that first system, at least get that going. Even if you have a very busy day just close your office door and try to do something that will help you run on autopilot.
OWEN: Awesome. And so, what books will you say has really influenced this way of thinking about running the business from a systemized standpoint for you? What books have had the biggest influence for you?
GEORGETTE: I really like The One Minute Manager for a book because it’s very efficient, it’s quick, and it’s to the point. You don’t like something that somebody’s doing, you go up them, you tell them, you direct, and you’re done. And it should all be done in the period of a minute.
OWEN: I like the fact that you recommended it. That’s actually on my list of books to read. Yes, I’m going to be checking that out.
GEORGETTE: It just takes a minute to read.
OWEN: And also, what will you say is the best way for the listener to connect with you and thank you for doing the interview?
GEORGETTE: Oh sure, it’s really just through our website, and that’s onlocationtours.com and firstname.lastname@example.org is our main marketing email.
OWEN: Awesome. And I’m curious, is there a question that I asked you during the interview and for some reason I didn’t ask you? Basically, a question that you think would even help to shed more substance to this interview. Go ahead. Post that question and then the answer.
GEORGETTE: I guess the only thing is, and it’s not exactly having to do with systems. But one thing that took me years to learn was hiring the right employees. I think a lot of it is trying to find people who have a sense of work ethic but ownership. And people who have that ownership where even if they make mistakes they’re able to not only own up to it. But if they’re trying and they have passion about the business then that’s enough.
OWEN: You have the chutzpah.
GEORGETTE: That’s exactly what I’m saying.
OWEN: Now I’m speaking to you the listener. I want to thank you first of all for listening to this interview all the way to this point. And if you found the interview useful I want you to do us a favor and leave us a positive review on iTunes. To do that go to…
GEORGETTE: Oh sure.
OWEN: Actually, I’m talking to the listener now.
GEORGETTE: Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry.
OWEN: No problem.
GEORGETTE: Say it again.
OWEN: You basically leave a review on iTunes. To do so you go to sweetprocess.com/iTunes and you leave a positive review. The reason to do that is the more positive reviews we have there on iTunes, the more listeners are exposed to our interview. And the more we’re encouraged to go out there and reach out to entrepreneurs like Georgette who can come on here and literally break down their business and give you the behind the scenes to how they’ve been able to systematize and transform their business. And so, if you know another entrepreneur who will find this interview useful please share this interview with them. And finally, if you are at that point in your business where you’re tired of being the bottleneck and you literally want to get everything out of your head so your employees know step-by-step how you get tasks done, well signup for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess. Georgette, thanks for doing the interview.
GEORGETTE: Thank you so much for having me. It was wonderful, thank you.
OWEN: And we’re done.