Leaky Bucket Syndrome – Part 1

Jul 8, 2011

This simply makes me so sad.

We work so hard to build our list of leads and get new clients – which is of course important – but we don’t focus enough on what happens once we connect with these people. The stuff that goes on “behind the scenes” in the business.

Leaky Bucket SyndromeThis is what I call the Leaky Bucket Syndrome – when we focus so much on getting more “into the bucket” but neglect to make sure that that bucket itself is whole.

You can get all the clients in the world, but if your systems aren’t set up properly to engage and serve those clients, they will end up leaking right on out over time. A highly frustrating, painful and ultimately avoidable scenario.

It all comes down to systems… I just heard some eyeballs roll. Yes I know, the word “system” may make your eyes glaze over. Systems are so boring right? I disagree, not when you understand what a system actually is.

You can essentially break down a system into 3 parts:

  • The process – documented steps to accomplish X
  • The technology – what tools can be used to automate parts (or all) of the process?
  • The people – who does what can’t be done by technology?

In other words:

Systems allow you to create a business that functions smoothly, effectively and freely – so that you (and your team) don’t have to spend all of your time putting out fires and trying to keep up.

Here are some examples of what happens to you and your team when you are suffering from Leaky Bucket Syndrome – perhaps you can relate?

  • You have those middle of the night moments, waking up in a cold sweat thinking “omg, did X get done? yikes! I don’t think it did…”
  • A client emails your team saying “hey, I just bought X but didn’t recieve it… what’s up with that? I think I might want a refund…
  • You realize that a team member didn’t do something that you emailed them about a few days ago – and now YOU have to scramble to get it done on time.
  • There is simply so much work to be done – little things like booking clients for coaching calls – that the important stuff falls to the bottom of the list.
  • You feel like you don’t know what everyone on your team is working on, and wonder if stuff is getting done at all?
  • You have a certain way that you want things to be done – but it seems like everytime someone else works on it that they do it wrong.
  • There are things that you do on a regular basis, but it feels like every time they come up again you have to reinvent the wheel and figure it out from scratch.
  • So many to-dos keep coming up at the last minute in projects, and your team is starting to get seriously frustrated with a seemingly constant flow of “urgent, need this now!” requests.

These are all examples of holes in your bucket – and they are truly draining. Mentally, emotionally and financially.

The thing is you guys – ALL of these things can be solved with the right systems in place. And let me say up front, this isn’t about fixing people – 9 times out of 10 something can be fixed by tweaking the system vs. blaming a person.

So what to do about Leaky Bucket Syndrome? Never fear, in Part 2 of this article series I’m going to give you some concrete solutions you can implement to start plugging up those holes.

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