Monthly Archives: December 2009
At Franchise Foundry, we spend a lot of time talking about process and thinking about how to improve processes. We do this for our partner businesses and we do it for our business too. For example, yesterday I was talking to the marketing team about how we could streamline the application process for potential franchisee candidates. The current process is good, but it isn’t good enough.
I have also been preparing several presentations that outline some of the sales and marketing processes at Franchise Foundry. In doing that, I reviewed presentations on our sales and marketing process from a year ago and I realized that we’ve come a long way. So the question is, why couldn’t we just do it right the first time?
I think that part of the answer to that question is that it may never be right. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that we will never be done analyzing and trying to improve the processes in our business. I don’t have a blackbelt in kaizen, but I do believe in continuous improvement. When it comes to process, I think there are two mistakes that will kill you:
1. Refusing to start until you get the process right.
Just get started. You learn a lot by doing. If you measure your results at each step, your weaknesses become very apparent. It’s a lot harder to see what’s happening if you’ve only mapped out your process on a whiteboard. Don’t jump in without thinking, but don’t overanalyze things because no matter what, you are wrong and you won’t know how you are wrong until you get a little dirty.
2. Thinking that you’ve got it nailed.
Just because you are better than the competition doesn’t mean that you are good enough. One of the mistakes people make that leads them to believe they are doing everything they can is they either don’t measure the results or they only measure the inputs and the outputs. If we did that at Foundry, we would be very satisfied with our Lead to Close ratio since it is significantly higher than national averages. However, when we break the process into steps and break the inputs into segments, we are able to identify groups that we are less effective with and steps in the process that could be improved. If you think you’ve got it nailed, you probably aren’t measuring effectively.
There probably comes a time when you are going to see diminishing returns from your continuous improvement efforts. But as long as you are a crappy company on the path to being a good (or hopefully great) company, you probably don’t need to worry about wasted efforts in process improvement.