A Recipe For Processes

By Matt Michel, CEO of Service Roundtable

Businesses can be people centric or process centric. When they are people centric, chaos ensues every time a key person leaves. They next person is likely to do everything different. By contrast, the process centric business does things the same proven and re- fined way.

A good analogy is cooking. Hire a cook to make, say, lasagna and everyone gets accustomed to the rich meaty version with a red sauce. If the cook leaves and the lasagna recipe was in his head, the next cook might have a very different version of lasagna. The next cook might make seafood lasagna, white chicken lasagna, or cowboy lasagna with pulled pork and BBQ sauce. The cook might make pasta from scratch or buy oven ready noodles. Technically, it is all lasagna, but in practice it is all very, very different.

If the cook prepares the lasagna according to a recipe, then the next cook will get the exact same result using the same recipe. There might be slight variations because each cook tweaks things. Yet, the end product is the same. Cooking without a recipe is like running a business without processes. Everything changes when the personnel change because the process exists between the ears of the employee. Here’s how to turn your business into one that is process centric.


Identify the Ingredients

The ingredients are the tools, forms, parts, equipment, and material necessary to perform a task. In manufacturing, this would be called a bill of materials. What does your dispatcher use in the performance of his job? What do your technicians need to troubleshoot an air conditioner? What do they need to replace a compressor? What is required to change out a heat pump? Like a recipe, every process has ingredients. Do you prepare job folders for technicians so they will have invoices, printed guarantees, furnace stickers, customer satisfaction or re- view forms, and so on?


Identify the Step-by-Step Directions

A recipe gives step-by-step directions, in order. Turn on the oven to a certain temperature. While it is heating, go mix a set of ingredients. A good recipe will even give notes of caution if certain steps are tricking or a little dangerous. Your processes should be the same. A process starts by following the approach taken today. How do your technicians approach the home and start a service call today? Do they park in the driveway or on the street? Do they put on shoe covers before knocking on the door or ringing the bell or do they put them on afterwards? Do they stand in a certain place or position while waiting for the door to be answered? Do they try to shake hands with the homeowner? Do they present a business card? These are a lot of questions and you have not even got- ten inside the house! Take every action by every person in the company and begin the process of documenting what is done today. Note the tools, material, and so on that are required.


Tweak and Improve

The way things are being done to- day may not be the way things should be done. After each process is documented, see if it can be improved. Can it be changed slightly to improve customer satisfaction, make life easier for your employees, or to just to save time? Every process should be regularly reviewed with an eye towards improvement.


Teach the Process

A process that sits in a book on a shelf is of little value. Teach the processes. Train to them. The process should be the way you do things in your company. Each process is a checklist that each person should re- view. Yes, it may be known by heart, but following it step-by-step is necessary for repeatability. This is why pilots still follow a checklist, step-by-step, despite having done so hundreds of times before. The checklist ensures you do not overlook or forget a step.

Matt Michel, Service Roundtable

Matt Michel, CEO Service Roundtable

Matt Michel is the CEO of the Service Roundtable (www.ServiceRoundtable.com),
the largest business alliance in the plumbing, heating, and cooling industry. You can reach Matt by email at matt.michel@serviceroundtable.com, toll-free at 877-262-3341,or follow him on Twitter as ComancheMktg.