I have this arrangement with the drycleaning service I use. They pick up from my house or office and then drop off after drycleaning.

It has been a very smooth sail for a few months until February this year. They picked up my clothes as usual but didn’t call to schedule a drop off date. It felt odd but I thought to give them time; I guessed they were overbooked. So I waited 2 weeks and then I called at 9.50 a.m on this fateful day.
An unfamiliar voice picked up. She had no clue who I was, hadn’t heard my name before and worst of all, couldn’t find my clothes. There was no record of pick up from me on their system. She said she would check and call me back.
10 minutes
20 minutes
50 minutes
60 minutes……I called back;
She apologized and told me she would call back as they were still trying to find my cloths.
“Okay”, I said.
10 minutes
60 minutes
2 hours…… I called back
More apologies and another promise to call me back.
10 minutes their boss calls me. They had to wait for the staff (ex-staff) who picked up from me to Come and identify my clothes. “She doesn’t work for us anymore; please be patient ma. I have called her. She is on her way to our office to identify your clothes”
Me: ?
So, We all had to wait for madam ex-staff who finally arrived late in the afternoon, identified my clothes and had them delivered to me with her boss.
This particular boss I would say, is really lucky. She seemed to have a good rapport with her ex-staff (or maybe she is being owed a severance pay?). Imagine for a  second that this ex-staff was a disgruntled employee, I strongly believe that no matter how many times they called her that day, she most likely wouldn’t show up!
The importance of systems and structures in a business can never be over emphasized. As an entrepreneur, you should build your business around systems and structures and not….Never….. around people (your Employees). Be in control. 100% control….. make sure the phone number being called is yours (or provided by you); The email address! The social media handles! Be in total control of your business per time.
Employees will come and go, the systems and structures you put in place will forever remain!
Perfect your Business system in such a way that even if an employee has to leave suddenly; your customer won’t notice any change in the way your phone is being answered; the way your products and services are packaged and delivered etc.
Here are a few tasks that should be standardized:
1. How your phones are answered; for e.g Hello “your name” thank you for calling “company name” how may i help you?
2. How you answer inquiries; take orders; record orders; there should be a general order-taking format, accessible to anyone/everyone at any time. A general (shared) email address might work. (Don’t forget to change the password if you fire one of your employees that has access to it)
3. How work is being done! For example photographers that take passport photographs can only print in 4’s, 8’s and 16’s. If a customer needs only 2, he might have to wait for another customer with the same need before he can have his photo taken. You need to train your employees with specific details, how you want your customers served/serviced.
The overall aim is to get your business on “auto-pilot” a.k.a “idiot-proof”. Where anyone can basically work in your organization as long as you have your systems and structures running at optimal levels and if an employee chooses to leave or gets fired; you, your business and your customers wouldn’t be at anyone’s mercy!
Systems and structures are the wheels that drive your startup closer to break-even point.

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