The Power And Profitability Of Process In Your Business

September

8

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How does process play a critical role in the success of your business? Our special guest Allen Edwards from Eureka Process today will share some tips on accelerating your business by reducing processing around people problems and producing consistently positive results, even when you are not there.

Join Tim Fitzpatrick and Allen Edwards for this week’s episode of The Rialto Marketing Podcast!

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The Power And Profitability Of Process In Your Business

Tim Fitzpatrick
How does process play a critical role in the success of your business? Our special guest today will share some of his tips on how to accelerate your business by reducing processing around people problems and producing consistently positive results, even when you are not there. Hi, I am Tim Fitzpatrick with Rialto Marketing, where we believe you must remove your revenue roadblocks if you want to accelerate growth and that marketing shouldn't be difficult. Thank you so much for taking the time to tune in. I am super excited to have with me Allen Edwards from Eureka Process. Alan, welcome and thanks for being here.

Allen Edwards
I'm looking forward to this all week.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yes, I am looking forward to this man. That process is not something that we talk about all that often, but as you well know, super, super important part of any successful business. So before we jump into that, though, I want to ask you some rapid fire questions to help people get to know you a little bit. You ready to jump in with both feet?

Allen Edwards
All right, I'm ready.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Okay. When you're not working, how do you like to spend your time?

Allen Edwards
Believe it or not, there's actually a lot of work that I enjoy, which is probably why I now own three businesses. I'm a continually applying process. I have an IT recruiting company. I'm actually just in the middle of opening up a cafe and nightclub with my wife and a business partner. But aside from that, I do enjoy running scuba, skiing, mountain biking, and video games.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Okay. Man, that's a lot. What's your hidden talent?

Allen Edwards
I tend to enjoy new experiences, so I don't really think I'm hiding any talents. But if you haven't hung out with me enough to get to know me, people are shocked to find out that I've done ballet, musical theater, acting both film and stage and some writing.

Tim Fitzpatrick
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Allen Edwards
Best ranking is always so hard for me.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I know.

Allen Edwards
But I am frequently reminding all of my cohorts in the business world that the purpose of business is not to make money. The purpose of business is to fill a need, and money is the byproduct from delivering that value.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, I love that. Helps us focus on the important part of it, because if we're too focused on the money, it can end up coming across that way, which is not a good thing.

Allen Edwards
Absolutely. I have been guilty of that for the first half of my career before I could really turn that perspective.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. What's one thing about you that surprises people?

Allen Edwards
Not to open a can of worms, but just six years ago, I was actually homeless and hungry. That is living on the streets of Mexico and also where I gave birth to Eureka Process and met my wife.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Okay. We could definitely go down that rabbit hole. That's crazy. But you know what? One, congratulations for coming this far. Two, I think it also goes to show people how quickly things can change because I don't know. Six years may have felt super long to you, but six years in the realm of all our life span is not a long period of time. What does success mean to you?

Allen Edwards
You gave me a heads up on this question. I actually spent some quite a bit of time thinking about this, and I think I came up with having fun while producing something for society. That could be anywhere from art to filling that business need to making people happy.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, I love that. That's a good one, man. Nobody has ever said they defined it that way, so I love it. Where's your happy place?

Allen Edwards
Well, I am typically always happy. I do find long showers or especially mountain biking a very meditative state for me, and I do tend to come out of that even more positive afterwards.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I interviewed somebody a while ago who was a long-distance runner, and he listened to... God, I can't even remember what... It was a specific type of music. It wasn't trance music, but it was like that where it was the beat and it helped him just stay on pace. Do you do anything like that when you mountain bike? I mountain bike and I don't do that.

Allen Edwards
I specifically can't afford distractions on a mountain bike. What I like about it is my entire focus is on not dying. I'm not that advanced and I don't ride that hard. But I like my job and I like being able to do it. I want to stay healthy. I'm so focused on one task that has nothing to do with all my other worries. And that's what I find refreshing, because afterwards I have that physical tiredness, but my mind is like, Oh, I'm free to think about things again. That's very refreshing.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. I don't listen to music because you can't hear anybody else coming on the trail. But one of the things I love about mountain biking that's relevant to businesses, they always talk about when you're mountain biking, you need to focus on where you want to go, not where you don't want to go. Because if you're focusing on the edge of the turn, that's exactly where you're going to go.

Allen Edwards
Yeah. I use that and the exact example of several of my accidents in every single strategic session I do with our clients. I've boiled it down to envision success, don't envision failure. Whichever one you see is what will happen.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, I love it. What qualities do you value in the people you spend time with?

Allen Edwards
I narrowed it down to four: honest, direct, driven, and the fourth is the kicker is they have to like me back.

Tim Fitzpatrick
That's a good one. Yeah, that's always good in a relationship, right?

Allen Edwards
I used to just have the last one. I had to get better at that.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Alan, tell us more about what you're doing with Eureka Process. What types of people are you working with?

Allen Edwards
Yeah. We are a traditional business consultant. However, we focus exclusively on IT service providers because I've been there, done that. Most of our team has been there, and we focus on all three layers of the business: strategic, logistics, and tactics. So strategic could be building your identity, direction, and objectives. The logistics could be meeting with you weekly to develop your processes and all the key areas of your business from finance to service delivery, and even down to the tactics of executing within your business, changing your PSAs, your documentation platforms, et cetera.

Tim Fitzpatrick
So you're helping ensure that they're running a tight ship.

Allen Edwards
Yeah, they know the tech. I mean, I know tech, I'm recovering, but we want to bring them back to basics about what is it to own a business and how do you grow and scale a business with all these people, which are weird parts of the equation.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Well, in the IT space, in the managed service provider space, like you said, they tend to be very technical people. They started their business because they love the tech, but they don't necessarily always have that business background. And like a lot of us who start our own businesses, we don't know what we don't know.

Allen Edwards
Yeah. And most of our prospects come to us and the words I hear are like, Tired of babysitting these morons, which is a truth feeling. They have to be the truth of the matter. And I just don't like going to work anymore. And that's where those skill sets that we started with are no longer fitting the scale of the rat nail on their business.

What is A Process?

Tim Fitzpatrick
So let's dig into it. Let's talk process. You have a published book. What's the name of the book?

Allen Edwards
Process and the other P-word, which is the...

Tim Fitzpatrick
And the other P-word. Okay, I love it. How did you decide on such a niche and specific topic?

Allen Edwards
Well, four years ago, I wrote a much larger book that I sent to the publisher, and her words were great content. That might have been just making me feel better, but it had no structure. So I spent the next few years realizing that my business had no structure, and I worked through that. And then I found out that 80% of our clients have the same starting point. No matter what we discuss, we have to develop a process-based culture or we can't make changes to processes that don't exist. We can't set clear expectations of the employees that don't exist. So we always start with how do we start building a process-based culture? And that's why it shows this topic of the book.

Tim Fitzpatrick
How do you relate? Is process similar to systems? Are they interchangeable? How do you think about it?

Allen Edwards
They're definitely an event diagram. There'd be a lot of overlap there. It's more about perspective. For example, when I wrote the book, I had to define three words very carefully for myself to stay on topic. One is what is a process? And a process is any series of steps to accomplish a particular task, in our case, for a positive outcome of that task. Then I had to redefine documentation because I use documentation and process almost interchangeably. But to me, documentation is simply the writing down in an accessible place of the decisions you have made. That is what a written process is that we have decided as a company to do things this way. What brings them all together is what the word culture means. I was surprised how clear the definition was once I actually read it for the first time in my life just a few years ago. A culture is just a collection of habits of a group of people. So if our group of people, our business, our teammates follow the written process, then that is our culture. And if we don't set that clear expectations, our culture is usually quite unknown or not what we expect.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Well, I would think when you have documented processes, it eliminates a lot of confusion, questions people might have, and it helps you get to an end result more consistently.

Allen Edwards
Correct. The Wild West of all these problems that we're having as this thing, this business, is people. Usually the problem with people isn't the people themselves, it's our inability to set clear expectations. I actually liken this to a disease called LBS. I don't know if you've heard of it, leaky bucket syndrome.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Okay. Yeah.

Allen Edwards
We tell somebody how to do something and they retain 80% of that information. Then as we grow and they might reach the next person, they're already starting with an 80% bucket that's continuing to leak and they fill the next person's bucket, now it's down to 60%. And as that tribal knowledge continues to dilute, it's missing. And the only way to prevent that is to have written clear expectations, processes, and KPIs, and there's some other techniques to continually fill that bucket because we're human and we can't actually plug the links. All we can do is continually fill the bucket.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, I'm working with a client right now with their marketing. We're evaluating where they're at and then putting a plan together. One of the things that is really coming to the surface in the intake and discovery process is exactly what you just talked about. They have a ton of tribal knowledge and not a lot of documented processes. Their sales process, they're just winging it. Some of their marketing stuff, it's like, Oh, let's do this. And they go down this path, but there's just no real thought behind it and a set process that anybody can follow. And things have gotten very unwieldy.

Allen Edwards
There are certainly limits to when process benefits you and dull benefits you. It's not necessarily for one man shows. But even when I was a one person show, if I had one process that I only did every so often, such as sales or invoicing, for example, I found it far easier to write those key bullet points. What is it that I'm doing so that I was consistent and didn't have to rethink through it every time and it actually reduced my own time spent.


Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Well, you touched on this. I'm curious what you think of this. You said the key points, the key steps. Somebody said to me a while ago they were like, You write process and systems for smart people. You don't have to have all 80 steps that somebody needs to take, right? We got to write these for smart people, and if they can't follow them, then they're probably not the right people. What are your thoughts on that?

Allen Edwards
Well, first of all, that is really well said. Many times we are processing around a people problem, and because you have a people problem, no amount of process is going to fix that. One of the ways that I approach this is one, if you feel the need to do step by step screenshots or whatever, it's your prerogative to do so. But I don't call that a process. That's a training document. And you can do training and you can train people, and that's great. But who's going to want to follow an 18-page process every day? Once they know it, give them the key points to remember the order of operations to get it done at. Yeah. So we're working with a bunch of really smart people in IT, and we tend to understand complex issues much more easily than the average. So many times as a business owner, our expectations of people are also really, really high and not always fair.

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The Only Two Things You Should Fire Someone For.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Got it. So you said a lot of times we're processing around people problems, which leads into my next question, which I think a lot of us struggle with. If we got a people problem, how do we know it's time to actually let somebody go?

Allen Edwards
The short answer is if you're thinking it, it's probably time. However, as human beings, I feel like we owe it to our fellow human beings to be as clear as possible to our expectations, hence process KPIs. Also, we have a fear of conflicts. We want to give them opportunities. So what I've done is I have a coaching system we teach to our clients, and it's essentially an escalation system. But the idea is you're tracking what's going on, what the problems are, and you start off with coaching and reminders, and it might move toward probation and ultimately termination, so you have some documentation for that. But the key really is that there's only two ways to have an infraction, which is failure to follow process or failure to load up to core values, which are the ultimate process. If there's only two ways, it becomes a much more simple conversation to have. If somebody comes to you like, Oh, we didn't have a process for that, and I didn't break any core values, therefore the solution is, Oh, let's develop a process together. It's no longer a negative experience. It's just pulling a gap together. It's teamwork.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I like this, man. It's simple. The measuring stick is failure to follow process or failure to uphold core values. So we obviously need to communicate our core values consistently and on a regular basis. And we also obviously have to have documented processes. But if we do, then it just becomes this system where it's like, hey, is it a three strikes you're out thing? Or how do you... What do you guys do?

Allen Edwards
This is where I'll confess that there's some art to this.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. It's not all science.

Allen Edwards
My process is like seven strikes and you're out. We start very much on re-education, coaching and training first. And then there's times to make exceptions. But you also have to... I wrote in the book a couple of questions to test is now a time to make an exception. Has it happened before or has the same thing happened before? Have you given this person exceptions before? So there's times to bend, but it can't be unlimited. You bend that rule once. Remember, they have seven strikes, so there's plenty of room. There's nothing wrong with getting or reminded of a process or recoaching it again. It's just part of the process. But by the time you've done this enough times, this is beginning to eat up your time and possibly rot your team at the core. And it's really time to start thinking about it. And some encouragement if you're thinking, I hate the word termination, but if you're thinking about it for somebody, whenever we start enforcing these things, I have an 80-10-10 rule. 80% of your people are going to act right. Okay. 10 % in the far right are not. And depending on how you deal with them, you have 10 % in the middle are going to go whichever way you enforce.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Whether you think it or not, it's like our kids, they're always watching us. They're always paying attention. And man, if you let people slide, then that 10 % that you're talking about, they go that other direction that you don't want them to go.

Allen Edwards
And as talking heads, we have to say things that are a little bit sensational to get our audience to be motivated and to think and to act, which is the hard part. So we are firm enough to say termination is a real possibility, you also end up saving a lot more jobs. It gets bad, though, when you never quite get to that step. The next thing, three people are like that. Now it's five people are like that and now you have a real problem with that.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Well, the thing I love about how you're describing this process, Allen, is one, it's much easier for us to be objective on something that can usually be very subjective. But two, by the time a team member employee gets to the point where they're going to be fired or terminated, it's not a surprise.

Allen Edwards
Yeah. The number one excuse I've heard for not doing it is, Oh, they're producing too much work. We can't live without them. And I've heard it almost every time. I'm just going to point blank, and I'm sure this exception say it's BS, because I have never once in my life seen somebody regret pulling the trigger. Almost every time they're like, Wow, I wish I would have done that sooner. It's amazing how much work they were causing or actually not getting done we just thought they were.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I have had not in my current business, but in prior businesses, I can attest to that. I have had people that were on the team that it was just like a cancer. And the minute they were gone, no joke, within days, the atmosphere, the environment, the culture shifted completely. So anybody that's watching or listening to this, if you're in that place, do not question it. It is something that you have to do. And just do it.

Allen Edwards
Just do it. Nice to work that.

The Power And Profitability Of Process In Your Business

Tim Fitzpatrick
Just do it. I love it. So what other examples do you have? I love the example of putting in process for coaching and guiding people so that when you do have to fire people, it's an easier process. I don't know if I'd ever say it's easy, but what other examples do you have? Any other advice that seems to come up consistently?

Allen Edwards
So as a coach and a speaker, I do try coming up with all sorts of sayings because it helps people understand the concepts. And I have to sort through this whole team channel we have called SHIT Allen says. And I came up with this one, which I think I stole from Robert Kiyosaki, one of his early ones in the 90s, which is that F. O. C. U.S an acronym for finish one course until successful. I think, especially with us smart IT people, we tend to try to do so many things and we need to do one. And a quote that I'm going to give from myself is, You can't have everything, but you can have one thing. Keep that up long enough and you can have everything. By focusing on the smaller, simpler piece, you can get everything done. But if you focus on everything, you're just constantly juggling.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. If somebody is listening to this and they're like, Gosh, my business doesn't have a lot of process, where's usually the best place to start? Do you find that you're starting with the same process with most clients? What does that look like?

Allen Edwards
Yes, I do find we're starting the same process. If we're talking about teams of people, let's say five people or more, we're probably the first process I would write is lovingly called The Process Process, which is far better than I was calling it The Procedure Procedure with AMI Pro back in the 2000s. Essentially what the process process is, it is a blueprint to your documentation system. It covers the who, what, when, where, why, how documentation. We even have a template for at theurekacommunity. Com, where just copy paste this into your documentation platform and make a couple of key decisions. Who's in charge. When do you document? Is it separate or is it at the time of doing work? Where are you storing documents? How do you write them? How do you title them? Go ahead and answer those questions so everybody's clear and it becomes very easy to create more documentation.

Tim Fitzpatrick
It seems super obvious that that's where you start with process, but my guess is 98 % of us would totally overlook that. I know I would, but it's just a fundamental thing, right? We're documenting how we actually process within the company.

Allen Edwards
Faith in Marketing was coming with some ideas for some marketing for us, and she was like, Oh, we're innovative. I'm like, Well, what we do really is the opposite of innovation. We're trying to bring people back to the basics, things that people know they should do but have difficulty actually executing and they're missing it and it's what's causing their business to be more difficult to scale. We're giving the advice your grandmother if she was an entrepreneur.

Tim Fitzpatrick
One of the things, too, that I have heard, I'm curious how you feel about this. Once you put processes in place, I've heard multiple people say that the person that should own that process and make updates to it is the one that's actually doing it day in, day out, which makes sense to me. How do you feel about that?

Allen Edwards
I mostly agree. I do believe that decision is on a maturity scale. I think in earlier maturities, I'll pick a number, say 25-50 people in your organization, you should probably be updating your SOPs live, let everybody have access to it. Most documentation platforms have rollback plans, edit traces and histories and what's going on. I would use that to your advantage. As you scale more, you might have more and more people who are removed from the impact and it could make sense to have a change management process. Sometimes it depends on what it is, like maybe company policies. I let everybody have access to them right now, but as we grow beyond 10, 20 people, it might make sense to company policies or a change management process and the rest are open and then you continue to lock those down as you grow. But definitely don't add too many barriers earlier on.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Do you have any recommendations for systems to house all this stuff? Do I need something specific or can I use Google Drive and have all this stuff live in Google Docs? What are your thoughts there?

Allen Edwards
The classic consulting answers, as it depends. I could tell you that I've used specific built brands like ITglue and Hudu, ITboost, and some others. I think they're all pretty darn good. Anytime I see somebody switching from one to the other, I'm like, Why waste your time? Do you have the process? Are you following the systems? Because I find the systems are pretty similar. Why don't you do that? At the same time, I just had the benefit of taking over the support department for Gozenta Inc, who purchased Eureka Process back in May. Okay. And they're using Confluence, and it's not quite mission built for IT, but I'm finding it extremely enjoyable to apply the exact same principles that I teach to our clients and in the book to Confluence. And I've seen it done in Google Share Drives, SharePoint, OneNote. They're all okay systems if you're clear in your process process. That blueprint, everybody can do it.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Okay. And you said, did you say that the process process is available on your website?

Allen Edwards
I have it at theeurekaccommunity.com, which is a members only website. Okay. Tim, if you want to hit me up and offer this, I think we can get you a template to your listeners.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Okay, cool. That would be awesome, man. I'll hit you up and we'll make sure that that goes in the show notes because I'm assuming that can be applied to all kinds of different businesses.

Allen Edwards
Yes. Again, I just had a chance to apply it to a software as a service company, still technical. And in opening up this bar and cafe, I'm hoping to see if the same thing applies.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Cool. I love it, man. Thank you for doing that. I appreciate that because I think if you're not a process-type person, it's really hard to start putting processes into your business. But I don't know about you. I've never met anybody that was ever able to get off the treadmill of their business or sell their business if they did not have really strong process.

Allen Edwards
100 % agree. Even in my first IT firm, we didn't get large or anything, but I could take a month off. And it was okay. And thanks to being a very process-oriented company.

Conclusion

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. This has been great, man. Any last-minute thoughts you want to share with us about process or anything else?

Allen Edwards
Just to throw a few things that we barely touched on. I encourage everybody to keep it simple. A header and a documentation platform is better than no document at all, and five bullet points is better than no bullet points. And that's a great start. It's much easier to correct somebody, just ask my wife, than it is to create something from scratch. And then as you're building your culture out, to build that culture, always refer back to what's in writing. If it's missing, fix it. Don't refer back to what I said or as per my email, but what's in writing? New documentation system.

Tim Fitzpatrick
That's awesome, man. Keep it simple. That keep it simple resonates with me because I talk about that all the time on the marketing side. But in our life, in our professional careers, it's so easy to overcomplicate things and complexity just gets in the way of implementation and seeing results. So keep it simple, people. We will make sure that we get that process process and the show notes. Allen, where can people connect with you, man?

Allen Edwards
Easiest way is eurekaprocess.com. But if you see myself or a business posting on Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, feel free to say hi, add a friend request, find me on LinkedIn. Glad to connect with you.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Awesome. Allen, thank you for taking the time. I really appreciate it. It's been a great conversation. Please connect with Allen. If you got process issues, reach out, connect with them. At the very least, if you're not an ideal client, I'm sure you can point people in the right direction. Yes.

Allen Edwards
Glad to help. Thanks for having me.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love it. Alan, thank you, man. Those of you watching, listening, I appreciate you and thank you for doing so. Process, got to have it. On the marketing side, process and consistency is so important for long-term success. If you want to know which of the nine revenue roadblocks are in your way, slowing down your growth, you can do that over at Revenueroadblockscorecard.com. It takes less than five minutes to get your customized report. You can also always connect with us over at Rialtomarketing.com. That's over at R-I-A-L-T-O marketing.com. Allen, thank you. Audience, thank you. Until next time. Take care. Bye.


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About the author, Tim Fitzpatrick

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