Scaling your company for growth is a necessary part of building a thriving and sustainable business. Whether this growth applies to a one-man operation or a team of 50 or more, it is important to understand that without building employee capacity, growth becomes much harder and more taxing on the one in charge (also most likely the ones reading this article). Our company has been heavily focused on training, trusting our employees, and building a system which allows for individual success and accountability, in other words: delegate to elevate.
I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by strong leaders and business-minded individuals that have helped elevate our own business models and in turn, pass the torch to our employees. Of all these lessons learned and shared, one of them that should be given more attention is the ability to grow the skill sets of your employees as your business continues to expand. Building capacity in your operations can come in many forms. At the upper end of business, it crosses multiple levels: directors, managers, supervisors, and team leaders, but for many of the repair facilities in our industry, a few well-placed managers can help immediately scale your operation for success, especially when given the proper authority.
Growth is imperative to a thriving, successful business. Much like plants: if they are not growing, then odds are they are dying and coming from someone who lacks a green thumb. It is a lot easier to let them die than to help them grow. The best way that I could describe scaling this growth would be to allow people in your company to develop their own processes and govern themselves without the constant supervision of the owner or director. In some facilities like ours, that could mean having a parts manager, or a shop supervisor, or a warehouse director for shipping/receiving. It could even go as far as developing a team for payables and receivables where one person directs a group of others to stay on top of accounting. Trusting in your team to effectively manage individual areas within your company is one of the fastest ways to get out of the cycle of overworking, easier said than done I know. Growth, particularly being able to scale this growth, certainly comes with its own set of challenges: trusting your employees, being able to give attainable and measurable goals, and letting go of what may have been under your “umbrella” for many years.
One of the biggest hurdles that our company faced was in leadership letting go of some of the day-to-day operations while trusting our employees and technicians to fulfill daily obligations. For years one or two people held the keys to specific tasks within our company: ordering cores, monitoring shop supplies, placing larger stock orders, just to name a few. By handcuffing our management and owners to being the only ones capable of these jobs, it removed us from other important tasks that can help grow our business. Our initial goal was to define and establish measurable tasks for our employees to take ownership of and see how well they react. Initially these were small goals that provided the biggest quality of life increase for upper management, and slowly but surely, they have turned into larger tasks with multiple tiers of instructions. We were able to monitor this and encourage feedback from employees during our “scorecard.” A scorecard is a quick
reference sheet that highlights measurable areas that departments are meant to focus one; some examples of this are cores sold, boxes sold, billable labor, etc. The most efficient form of scorecards for us was tracking labor in different areas and appointing someone from our management team to routinely update our employees of their efficiency progress over the course of the month. To our surprise, when given the goal to reach, our staff not only met but regularly exceeded expectations. Each time we set the bar we found out that our employees were more capable of executing than we had ever imagined. This has led our team to focus and branch out in other directions, increasing productivity and growing in areas that we had never had the capacity to pursue before. Little by little we have been able to assign goals, monitor productivity, and have faith in our workforce to get the job done.
As mentioned before in one of my previous articles, employee training and continuous improvement is imperative to the growth of an organization, in many cases it could be considered the most imperative part of growing an organization. To take that a step further, the organizational leadership within a company can be considered as the next steps that must be taken to continue to scale growth. Since my time on the NARSA/IDEA Board, we have followed an organizational operating guide called EOS, or the Entrepreneurial Operating System. This system’s premise relies on a chain of command that directs, empowers, and governs multiple levels of your business so that each person within an organization can succeed. By tiering our management chain so that multiple levels are empowered with the confidence to make decisions, govern their direct reports, and quantify our successes as well as failures, our company has been to strategically grow in a sustainable manner. The biggest challenge is believing that your staff is capable of much more than you may think, and deep-down people want to succeed at what they do and live up to the expectations that you set for them.
If anyone has questions on EOS or implementing strategic organization within your company, please feel free to reach out to myself or members of the board for reading suggestions to get started!