Hello All In community! Today’s wisdom comes to you from Cody Butler, Founder of HEAT Bootcamp & Personal Training. Cody’s successful boutique business model is scaling from a single location to a franchise model. He has become a true believer in the importance of systems for maximizing success – quality, efficiency, growth and profitability depend on them. Thank you Cody!

I recently took a vacation to Europe. My favorite part of vacation is the time spent planning my exit strategy from a world of endless meetings, pressing responsibilities, and the constant texts, calls, and messages that consume my time. I was longing for an escape. I needed to bask in the freedom of no responsibility, to be unreachable, and to eat unlimited amounts of bread and pasta that somehow would not affect my waistline. If you’re a business owner you know this “escape” does not exist anywhere or ever. Oh, speaking of waste lines, I guess it is worth mentioning that I founded one of the first boutique fitness facilities in central Texas. Yes, even fitness professionals dream of taking off the healthy hat and indulging from time to time.

A big trip means big planning. My inner task-oriented entrepreneur needed to ensure my time away was going to be maximized. The countless hours of research, Google mapping every possible tour route, and even vetting optimal nap times between adventures was not sufficient. But then it came to me. Eureka! I’ll approach this like I’m planning my death directive. Morbid, I know! Bear with me, friends. No one likes to think about the fact that we will all wind up six feet under one day. We certainly don’t want to talk about it! However, everyone, regardless of business savvy, success, good looks, or great health should have a system in place to deal with this eventual reality. Let’s face it, it’s not if…it’s when. I’d recently been through this process with a loved-one, and my learnings seemed to fit.

Before we delve to far, let me assure you this is not about will planning. Therefore, before I make my grand point, let me share via the philosophy of Brene Brown, in which information is best retained if communicated in the form of story.

This past year, I had the honor of legally “adopting” an 82-year-old women named Polly. Polly had no family or loved ones to take care of her. I spent a great deal of time with her in the assisted living home, and this proved to be a valuable, life changing time for me. Towards the end of her life, she became in desperate need of hospice, which required a guardian. The guardian was needed to make executive decisions over her health, as she could not. There was no way I was going to allow this special person to exit the world as a ward of the state. I volunteered to take on the responsibility. Polly’s state of mind quickly declined as her dementia worsened. Other than a DNR, she did not have a final will or any notable directive about her last wishes. I assumed the necessity for a will was over looked as her only belongings could easily fit into a laundry basket. My responsibility as guardian was divided between emotional and logistical: 1.) love her 2.) make sure she had a proper burial. The first was easy. The second, not so much. It wasn’t a matter of money, arrangements, or logistics. The hard part was getting an 82-year-old women with dementia that once claimed to be Jewish on an intake form, however seemingly practiced Christianity, to simply choose between a burial or cremation. When asked, she shrugged and said, “I don’t like the heat nor do I like dirt.” If you understand the burial traditions between Judaism and Christianity you will understand my plight. After weeks of spiritual debate, a wise lawyer gave me sound advice. She said, “If you choose cremation, just pray that it was the right choice and maybe He will let you off the hook if it wasn’t.” Touché, lawyer lady. Polly had a twisted, yet incredibly lovable sense of humor. If only she had a clearer process for her final narrative, I wouldn’t have been left wondering if I made the right choice.


3 Factors That Thwart System Building

Ok, to my point. In life, we establish our directives with such things as a will and in business we create a system for others to follow the process we have created. As an entrepreneur, we naturally have a million thoughts orbiting around our business model. These are clustered into goals, visions, concepts, and solutions to conflicts, processes, organizational procedures, etc. These are all very important in creating a sustainable business platform. When starting off, we land on a few ideas and incorporate them as routine. Eventually we begin to grow and delegate responsibilities. We share our process with staff or others. In time, the ideas are modified based on growth or need for change. Eventually we will create a system and process to successfully run our business. Sound like I’m stating the obvious? Yes? Then why do we keep throwing spaghetti against the wall rather finalizing what works and putting pen to paper. I blame this on three factors:

  1. FOC (fear of commitment)
  2. FOMO (fear of missing out).
  3. “I’ll get around to it” attitude


Systems Are a Requirement for Success

In 10 years of business, I have asked myself this question many times, “Is there a better way to do this? If I did this differently would it be more financially rewarding?” All things require fine-tuning and modification. It’s ok to question your current process, but it doesn’t excuse you from formalizing a system to make things work. So lose the FOC and FOMO and get to it! You’re a may be a dreamer, a visionary, and a leader, but your employees are not mind readers. Ray Crock, the systems king, began the franchise era with McDonalds, while subsequently birthing fast food America and creating a sustainable career path for me. Thanks Ray! Although, you won’t find me at McDonalds, I think he is a genius and understood exactly how to formalize systems that could be efficiently put into place from location to location.

The goal: for the business to run itself (successfully) based on a system developed by the creator that works independently from the creator’s daily involvement. So unless you still believe in Santa Clause, I can tell you that Mr. Crock doesn’t oversee the daily operations of over 36,500 McDonalds worldwide. If you want to grow your business, perhaps even franchise, YOU MUST develop and institutionalize the systems required for it to work. It’s easy and you have most likely already done most of the work.


The Steps of Creating a System

  1. Identify what your business does.
  2. Identify the core values of the business.
  3. Identify the step-by-step process that occurs to produce quality in your product or service.
  4. Identify the roles and responsibilities of each person from the top down to deliver that process and quality effectively and efficiently.
  5. Identify every minute detail the business faces.
  6. Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard)
  7. Communicate, train and hold your team accountable for delivering the system.

I know this all seems like common sense, but don’t wait too far down the business timeline to create the documents that define your business’s last Will and “directives”, if you want the business to out-live you.
(PS – If you’re wondering about Polly, I chose cremation. A grave with no visitors just seemed depressing. She is a daily reminder to live life, but also to plan for the possibility of being out-lived).

By Cody Butler

Founder, HEAT Bootcamp & Personal Training