Everyone Needs a System

Your business is nothing, and it will go nowhere without building systems. What is a system? To answer this, I am going to give you a story that happened in my life. It highlights what a system is.

You think my name is Tony Gattari, but it is not. It's really Antonio Roberto Gattari. When I got married 23 years ago, I did not marry an Italian; I married a New Zealander. My wife wanted to make my most favorite food. She asked me what my most favorite food was, and I said it was my Mom’s lasagna. I loved my Mom’s lasagna; it was absolutely fantastic. It took my mom 27 years to perfect this recipe.

Here is what happened, my wife tried to cook this lasagna, for the first time. It was appalling. It was terrible. Now my wife is quite persistent.  After some time, she rang up my mom one day and asked her when she was going to cook her lasagna. Here was the challenge: my mom cannot speak English, and my wife cannot understand Italian. My Mom cannot write English, and my wife cannot read Italian. However, my wife realized that the key was observation. So, she went to my mom’s place on a Saturday afternoon and asked my mom to make her lasagna. My wife followed my mom around the kitchen and wrote everything down. Now, I can tell you that my wife, who is not Italian and who has not had 27 years of Italian heritage, can now make lasagna better than my mother. The system was the recipe.

The reason that systemizing your business is so important is because if you do not systemize, you are just kidding yourself. You do not have a business; you just have a job. You cannot grow the business because you are the business. That can be very frustrating. You hear all this advice about growing your business, but you do not want to grow your business because you are in so much pain at the moment, you are actually working 80 hours a week and if you grow the business, you will never see your wife and family.

Here is the key: you have to upgrade the engine before you accelerate the vehicle. Upgrading the engine is taking a four cylinder 1,300 cc Volkswagen engine out and dropping in a Porsche turbocharged engine in the same cavity. That is the importance of business systems.

There are a few rules that we need to follow in order to systemize a business well. These are four simple principles to build your business.

1.  Do the systems, support the vision.

There is a basic assumption there – that you already have a vision. You have to create your vision before you build the system. Your systems are there to replicate the vision when you are not.

2.  Do your systems help to define the brand and do they create a consistent level of service?

I will give you an example of this, about 9 years ago, the best franchise you could buy was McDonalds. At one point there was a 9 year long waiting list just to buy the franchise. What is interesting is that other competitors were offering a better return on the investment, but everyone still wanted the McDonald’s franchise. Why? Once you actually bought a McDonald’s franchise, once you had worked in the business for a year as part of the franchise agreement; the franchise agreement said that you only had to work one day a year to keep your business. McDonalds is not a restaurant. It is a system that allows a 16-year-old to run a $5 million dollar business. That is the simplicity of McDonalds. That is a system.

3.  Can all the systems be tied back to job descriptions and KPIs?

You have to be able to measure people’s performances by those systems. Can all your team members be trained in the systems? Let us not insult anybody here. A 320-page manual is not a system, it is boredom.  No one reads it. You cannot give a Generation “Y” a 320-page manual and ask them to please read this tomorrow. You have got to make the training entertaining.

4.  Will the system be relevant in five years time?

You are not building a business based on where you are right now. You have got to think if those systems are going to take you somewhere in the future.

What are the areas that you should consider systemizing?

There are probably about six major areas.

Of these, there is one area that is so easy to build the systems because the system is already on the internet. They are things under the human resource system, like job descriptions and KPIs. All you have to do is to go onto the internet and download them. Then there are other systems like the finance, management, operations, sales and marketing systems.

The reason that I include sales and marketing systems is because there is an assumption that you have to be born a great sales person. You do not. Your system is your business. If I have great systems, I can make average people look great. The likelihood of getting outstanding employees for the rest of your working life is pretty rare. You are going to get them and then they are going to leave you and compete against you if they are that good.

So, you need to build a system that is great and always remember that the business is the system. The great thing is that the system looks after the team, and the team looks after the customer and it is the customer that pays the owner. Effectively, the owner has the responsibility to be the system creator, developer and maintainer. If you have the right system, you will have a great business.


The author Tony Gattari is founder and Chief Energy Officer of Achievers Group. He is a much in demand passionate professional speaker, business educator, author and corporate and business advisor.  He has worked with over 200 businesses around the world.                 

Website: www.achieversgroup.com.au

Email: tony@achieversgroup.com.au

Phone: 0410 538 521

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