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Systemization Series: Core functions of business—operations

March 10, 2015 -  By

road-rubberThis post is part three of Dan Pestretto’s seven-part systemization series. Read on to part four, “Systemization Series: Core functions of business—administration,” here.

Operations is where the rubber meets the road. It’s client fulfillment—where your company’s brand promise rings true or falls flat, manifesting its true value to your community, employees and customers.

Essentially, operations is what makes your company stand out from the competition, which translates to your unique selling point (USP), as sales gurus call it. It’s all about the ways in which your branding, marketing and sales promises permeate through the execution of your operation processes.

These are the processes you and your employees do every day to serve your customers—the processes that directly relate to customers, not prospects.

Such processes, or client fulfillment systems, typically fall into four categories.

1. Product or services

There are three areas that fall under this first category, including design, services and products.

Design processes can be used to differentiate your offerings, attract prospects to your brand, remove competitors from consideration during the sales process and as an effective way to convert a prospect to a customer.

Simply put, design processes are used to specify a product to a customer’s desires. These processes, influenced by a company’s brand, encompass scope, functionality, aesthetics and message. Design must inform and project the personal desires, taste and aspirations of your customers. Their outdoor spaces should make statements about who they are, what they have achieved and what they value. Your design processes must be executed in a way that exemplifies your brand promise yet personalizes your customer’s individual or corporate identity.

Service processes are the systems that ensure quality and adherence to the specifications for all services set in contract agreements. These systems begin during the sales process for customized services. They also can be part of strategic management systems when deciding your service offerings.

For products, consider this: You make a promise to a prospect. They buy your product on that promise, yet if your product doesn’t match up to their expectations or your specifications, your customer is disappointed, and, ultimately, your business will never succeed.

Operation processes determine the quality of your products and the recognition of their value by your customers. You need systems that confirm specifications to customer expectations.

2. Production

The production category is all of the processes or systems for developing, producing and innovating your products or services. Essentially, it’s all the processes necessary to get your product ready for consumption—from securing plant or hardscape materials to drawing up a landscape design.

3. Product delivery

This category is all of the systems for getting the product or service to the customer, things like logistics, scheduling of people, equipment and materials. It’s your systems for communicating all the information to everyone concerned with a particular job.

These systems show the stress of growth first and need to be monitored constantly for effectiveness as you grow your company.

4. Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction encompasses all the processes that ensure customers receive the highest quality and the most consistent experience time after time, meaning the products and services you deliver to your client go above and beyond what is expected.

Now, let’s look at system creation for your operations processes in a logical way.

Process identification

Think of everything you do directly for your new customers or what came to mind in No. 1, product or services. How do you make sure your product or service does what you intended it to do, what you promised your customers you would do? How do you know whether or not your company is performing to your customers’ expectations?

It’s important to remember the first step in process creation is just to name processes, not describe how you do it. If you find yourself describing “how” when you are making your list, you may be providing too much detail at this point. Only name the systems, not how you do them. Do this also with No. 2, production.

For No. 3, product delivery, identify the methods you use to get your product or service to your customers. Do you meet with customers before product delivery? How do you prepare for those meetings? What is the agenda? What other methods are used for delivery? Are there follow-up processes to make sure the customer received what was expected?

For No. 4, customer satisfaction, consider how you know whether or not your customers are getting what they expected? What are the methods used to make sure the customer receives an experience that surpasses the expectations you agreed to? What are the methods for handling customer complaints and quality assurance? Again, if you find yourself describing “how” you do something, you may be providing too much detail at this point.

Up next, we’ll look at the administration. Stay tuned.

Photo: iStock.com/6840188

About the Author:

Dan Pestretto is an Amazon best-selling author, business leader and consultant working with designers, contractors and trade service providers, with his specialty being in horticultural trades. He helps business owners develop, fine-tune and implement their companies' systems and empowers them to increase annual revenues.

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