If you get on the Rambling Bayou at Adventure Island in Tampa, you’ll notice something interesting about the inner tubes. All of them are green, except for a single red one. I always found this one red tube to be interesting.
The Rambling Bayou or as we call it “The Lazy River”, is basically a shallow river like attraction where you can sit on an inner tube and just travel through the park. Along the edges you periodically see a life guard sitting on a high chair. One day I just had to know what the deal was with this red tube, so I asked.
The answer is another reminder that when you have systems and processes in place, you will not only have business running smoother, but you can also eliminate problems.
I know you probably want the answer right now, but I’m going to make you wait until the end of the post. Feel free to keep guessing as you read on.
Systematize Your Problems
One thing I come across a lot, is when a business has a problem but never looks to eliminate the problem, with a better process or system. They’ll just keep letting this problem slow things down and cost them money.
A recent example of this is with a client who does service work. The office administrator was never able to bill a job right away, because she couldn’t tell if a job was completed in one day or was going to take multiple days. So I inquired about what the crew does each day when they get back to the shop. I was told they have a form they turn in which lists the job they did, supplies used and hours for each crew member. But the office administrator would have to call the crew chief the next day, to see if the job was 100% complete.
So I asked why they can’t just add a check box option on the form, which asks if the job is complete or only partial?
They had never taken the time to evaluate their system and see if they could eliminate the problem. They just kept going with it.
Quite often you can eliminate problems with a fine tuned system. Instead of ignoring problems, find a way to systematize it so it is no longer an issue.
Back when I was selling cars, we had a really nice CRM for handling all of our follow up with customers. There was a defined series of contacts that would take place with each lead and sale, including mailing out letters. The problem was, it would take time for the salesman to go to the computer and print out all the letters they had to mail. So, it wasn’t getting done. The solution was, they hired someone just to manage this process (and others). Her job was to print out all the letters that needed to be mailed that day and put them on each salesman’s desk. Then the salesman just had to sign them and place them in a windowed envelope. They would then drop them at the reception desk where they would be stamped and mailed.
This was a very important task and by creating a system for getting it done, they made sure it got done. They eliminated problems within the system.
So Why the Red Inner Tube?
Back to Adventure Island and that one red inner tube. As I mentioned before, there were life guards sitting at various spots throughout the “lazy river”. The problem is, sitting all day is really bad for you. Blood flow slows down, your muscles are in rest mode, you can begin to dose off. All reasons I built a stand up desk for myself. These are life guards, they need to be alert.
So how do they make sure the life guards would stand up at regular intervals to keep alert? They put that red inner tube in there. Whenever that tube comes around, from the time the life guard sees it, they must stand up. They cannot sit back down until it is out of their view. This keeps them alert, not only does it get them standing every few minutes, but they also must keep an eye out for that red tube. If you happen to visit there, take a look for yourself. Grab the red tube if you can, you’ll get a standing ovation every time you pass a life guard.
A great example of how you can eliminate a problem by making sure you have processes and systems in place.
What problems are you facing in your business, that can be eliminated easily this way?