Trust the process, whether you’re flippin’ burgers or selling jets

Ever wonder why McDonald’s manages to run their restaurants in a profitable and generally successful manner with a bunch of teenagers who might otherwise have to be threatened with losing the car keys just to get them to take out the trash?

It’s the system, not the Special Sauce.

You don’t get half-cooked fries because everyone knows not to remove them till the beeper goes off.

You don’t get raw burgers for the same reason.


It’s no different at Mail Boxes, Etc., Wendy’s, Roto-Rooter, or your favorite coffee franchise.

Sure, the systems stumble now and then, but for the most part, these systems are the reason why they can open a store today and start making a profit on daily basis tomorrow.

Do you have systems in place? Have you documented them? Do you enforce their use?

Have you read the The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It? You should not only read it, but act on the process it describes.

It’s a 3 step process that any of us can implement:

1) Create a system for performing and successfully completing a task.

2) Document it so that a brand new employee could do it.

3) Repeat.

People are pretty well used to that – where it tends to falls apart is farther up the employee food chain.

Sales people.

Most organizations have their salespeople go through sales training.

Most salespeople forget what the training teaches before they hit the sales floor again. The high-performers don’t. They implement what they’ve learned. Watch (and ask) the high-performers to learn how they manage to remember the new strategies but also implement them. The rest of the crowd isn’t paying attention. You should.

In bigger companies, there is often a very structured sales process, perhaps even including scripts for the phone, for in person sales and there are umpteen steps to the process, including dealing with objections to price, the missing spouse or decision maker and so on.

These processes are typically very well tested and refined – yet some salespeople still skip steps or don’t complete the process. These are not often the folks who win sales contests. These are the folks who move on to another sales job, because the last one just wasn’t a good product – even though the company has been in business for 78 years and leads their industry.

The winners in this game use the process given to them. Do they tweak the process? No question. Do they leave out steps? Not often. They know that each step is being measured and that the step is there for a reason – it improves sales.

The system improves things whether it’s telling you to take the fries out of the cooker, or to follow up with a lead after 4 days with a hand-written card, then call 2 days later – or whatever.

You improve by not thinking you’re smarter than the 9300 salespeople who came before you and refined the process.

Dan Kennedy tells a story about how he became a leading performer in Amway (yep, those door to door guys) at the age of 15.

After being named top performer at a sales meeting, someone asked him what his secret was.

He pulled out the step by step process that Amway provided back then – and trained people to use – and said “I do every step of this.”  He later learned that few people did, which is why they didn’t succeed.

It’s no different if you’re selling jets, cooking burgers or shipping products. A defined, tested, tweaked, documented process wins over time. It creates a consistency for your business that likely isn’t there now. It makes it EASY for you to hire new people and make them productive on day one. It keeps you from having to explain Your Business 101 to every kid who sets foot in your business.

See, that’s the other secret of franchises like McD’s. The customer knows that 99% of the time, the food is going to be the same as what they get at the McD’s at home. No matter what your opinion of their food, it is delivery with an expected consistency that brings people back.

Your business can easily have that much consistency. It brings people back. It makes your business unique.