All systems go! By Jake Voelcker, owner, Bicycleworks
• It is more expensive to hire staff, because they must be experienced and skilled • It is difficult for the business to grow, because it is limited by the owner’s availability • It gets very draining when every task requires a judgement call or a decision • Staff become demotivated because they cannot do most tasks on their own • Mistakes happen, because 80% of the tasks rely on your memory or judgement 20% skill, 80% routine The answer is to systematise your business. No, this doesn’t mean sacking everyone and buying robots. It simply means putting in place systems and procedures. 80% of all tasks should be systematised, and only 20% should rely on skill.
f you write a list of all the tasks carried out in your business, how many do you think must be done by someone with years of experience or training? And how many could be done by a trainee or apprentice? Often the ratio is about 80/20... but which way around is it? How many tasks require skill, and how many are simply routine? 80% skill, 20% routine Many small businesses run on this basis. A few tasks are automated, or are routine enough to be delegated to a new member of staff. Examples could be changing an inner tube, or restocking shelves. But most tasks are not systematised, and so they require judgement or skill or experience. Examples include repairing bikes, or reordering stock. The problems with running a business like this are: • The owner is tied to the business, because their expertise is required for most tasks
“But I can’t systematise the job of a skilled mechanic!” Yes you can. At our Bristol store we have developed the following system: • The manager does an assessment on any complex bikes. A simple “show-stoppers” checklist establishes whether there are any problems which could stop the job • Any jobs which are simple enough to be done by the apprentice mechanic are delegated. There are checklists for brakes, gears, wheels, and other areas which allow the apprentice to systematically work through the bike, and allow the manager to check the work afterwards • More complex jobs are delegated to the head mechanic. This means they can play to their strengths and work on the more challenging bikes, instead of simple jobs. Again, there are checklists to ensure nothing is forgotten • The manager is free to get on with management duties, instead of spending time replacing inner tubes or brake blocks
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