When an employee leaves, the time and cost of training a replacement can be enormous. Erato Aristotelous, business procedures expert, has seen this stress in businesses over and over again. Without standardised procedures, businesses are always starting again at square one.
In this episode , Erato Aristotelous — procedural document guru — shares the most effective method to thrive with robust business procedures.
With a profound background in procedural documentation and project management, Erato uses her broad experience working with multinational corporations (like Coca Cola, Cap Gemini, and Xerox) to teach the value of optimized business procedures.
As a certified Business Systems Professional (cBSP) with Work The System and founder of ProcedureWriters.com, Erato makes it effortless to outsource business procedures writing in three easy steps.
If you’re looking to improve accountability, employee efficiency, and team training, take a listen to Erato’s invaluable advice on procedure writing.
To find out more, head to ProcedureWriters.com
In this episode:
Josh: 00:00-01:06 Welcome to the Work the System podcast where we help entrepreneurs make more and work less using systems and I’m your host Josh Fonger. Today we have a special guest, we have Erato Aristotelous, Erato studied Information Management at Rhodes University, South Africa, where she subsequently became a specialized as an SAP consultant, Business Process Manager, and project manager. She has worked her way through Europe as a consultant project leader over a period of 19 years and has consulted at over eight global companies such as Coca Cola, Unilever, Accenture, Gap, Gemini, Xerox Carlsberg, and more or less work has allowed her to live in five countries within the borders of Africa and Europe. And I’m super excited to have her on because she’s been part of my certified business systems professional program. She’s kind of a standout student. And she’s been doing some really great work systemizing companies and so today we’re going to kind of mine her brain and find out how she helps companies using the work this method. So Erato, why don’t you give us the backstory. How’d you get here? Tell us about your background in systemization.
Erato: 01:07-02:40 Thank you, Josh. And thank you for the invite and sharing the space with you. It’s a big privilege. And Okay, so how did I get into the space? So I’ve always been intrigued by systems. And I come from a software background. So and it’s also a software background in working in big multinationals. And I’ve always been interested in how some companies work so well and others don’t so, and I was pretty young when I read the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. And he talks a lot about systemizing your business and I had known also from them that there was something unique about the way you structure your business or your life or the way you see things and systems and how this can impact the quality of your life or your working life. And when I was, I had found the book when I was a party about five, six years ago. I’d read it and then it was right advice on point when I felt like I needed to do to expand my avenues. And I received the email with regards to the professional certification and I was like it was right at the right time. And I took it on and yeah, it’s been, it’s been an awesome experience because not only have I learned to light, but I’ve been exposed to a lot of people in in the space that are interested in the same things as I am. So I feel like I’m, I’ve leveled up based on that. And also, I’m learning so much from the clients that I work with, and also been able to see that I’m able to add value in the businesses that acquired services so that as I provide.
Josh: 02:41-02:53 Well, cool. So what why don’t you tell us a little bit about those services, you know, we’re talking about beforehand, but you kind of have a unique way of delivering your systemization you wanna tell us about that?
Erato: 02:54-04:08 Yeah, of course. Okay, so one of my first clients after him after being certified, I decided to really go to the bottom of the, let’s say, the ladder because as a consultant, of course, I mean, I’m experienced and experienced consultant, but I really wanted to get in, like my hands dirty, and I started writing procedures for one of my clients. And I started structuring the procedures and then and then you and I had a conversation and I was thinking, Okay, there must be a way to scale this. Because it does take a lot of time, you know, creating the procedures and making them efficient and asking all the right questions. And obviously, also different stages. I mean, the first one is documenting the second stage is to make it more efficient. And the third is really, really like the top line optimization. So and the clients I was working with, they didn’t even have any procedures. So I thought, okay, how can we cover that? And then, you know, we’re having discussion and we thought, okay, was there a way we could scale this? And that’s how the birth of Procedure Writers dot com came about. And yeah, there we go. It’s been an interesting journey, it’s started from being a really tiny little baby to something, you know, that provides a really good service. And I’m really happy about that.
Josh: 04:09-04:48 Yeah, and you probably don’t know us, and I’m probably more happy about it than you are. Because I first had my first clients using the Work the System at 10 years ago, I was writing a lot of procedures for them, reviewing them, and just, it took a ton of time. And I was like, you know what, I wish there was a company that just would do this at volume that I could, that I could take this to, and then they could just crank out 100 procedures. And that’s really cool. So you took the bull by the horns and started this company, Procedure Writers dot com, which we, Work the System actually use some of our procedures there to get written. So tell us kind of how, how does it work?
Erato: 04:49-06:06 Okay, so, look, I what we focused really on was to deliver a solution that was really simplified. And if you think about anyone that does create a procedure it’s, it’s the typical person that executes a procedure. So we want to take that pain away. Because if you’re executing, if you’re doing the work, first of all, you’re not focused on writing the procedure. Second of all, you don’t like it, it takes a specific kind of person to actually write procedures, you have to like detail. You have to be structured, you have to be disciplined. And most of the time as an employee, you don’t want to be doing that. And you’ve got so many more important things to be focused on at work. So even if you do it, you may not deliver it, or you may not delivered on the right standards. So what we do is we take that pain away. And what we saw is three easy steps. So what we expect from the person that executes the procedure is to just record the procedure, send it to us, and then we strip down into the steps and recreate the screenshots, the simple steps, simple commands, not over. Very easy to follow, and then we send the push back to the clients and then they do a review. And it’s a very simple three step process. Basically, that’s it.
Josh: 06:07-06:19 Why don’t you walk us through what that would mean? Certainly you’ve got clients walking through this right now. So is there a client or maybe a client story? Maybe nothing confidential, where you can talk about it? What that, what that does?
Erato: 06:20-07:28 Yeah, of course, I’m actually lucky enough. I got a testimonial from a client two weeks ago. And we basically completed the project of procedure writing for him. And he basically wrote a testimonial saying how, because we optimize his procedures. He was able to eradicate two hours a week for his team. And that’s because he used to have two operations meetings a week to basically you know, firefight all the issues that were raised. And because he optimizes procedures, and then he basically save two hours a week for four people. That’s eight hours a week, so if you can imagine, now let’s quantify that eight hours, let’s say on average maybe eight hours times by 30. They say $30. At per $3 times by how many, for let’s say that 52 weeks in a year, let’s say it’s 47. How much does it come to you? And then times by? Yeah, I think it’s about 11k savings just from that.
Josh: 07:29-07:34 Yeah, and that was a. And it was the size of the company that wasn’t a very large company there was.
Erato: 07:35-08:04 No, no, no. It’s a, it’s a, I think it’s probably about a 10 man company. It’s an online business. But they planning to scale. That’s also why they created these procedures because they want to use this template to sell lots of other products online. And that was the purpose and we were able to, we were able to achieve that. And now the CEO is actually focused on strategy work, and he’s not in operations before. He’s just been so much time in Operations used to get frustrated. In fact, he used to hate being in these meetings, you know?
Josh: 08:05-08:24 Yeah, no, I think that’s a great example. And so even small companies like that they know and see the value because they’re trying to grow, which I think that would be one reason, I suspect, and you were working on these large companies as well, like, this is a big deal in large companies. Can you see a value in this for large companies?
Erato: 08:25-09:13 Of course, I mean, look, large companies have already got the procedures and they already working. And they’ve, they’ve, they are definitely steps ahead in smaller companies. But it doesn’t mean that they don’t have room to improve because they need to take it to the next level. Because most of the big companies, what they’ve been doing is that they’ve been doing the same things all the time. And then someone comes in and they do the same thing. And they don’t actually question why they’re doing things, or is there a better way to do things? They just follow what’s been doing what they’ve been doing all the time? And they’re actually questioning why am I doing this is the school needed? And can we do this better? And really, it’s all about asking the right questions to get better results. And most people don’t ask the right questions anymore, you know, because they’re just, sometimes they’re so inundated with work that they just want to execute, you know, and they just have to execute.
Josh: 09:14-09:40 So let’s say that Alyssa is what always happens to me when I’m talking to someone who’s kind of curious. They’re interested, but they aren’t sure if they should go forward. This is for the work system method for any of my coaching consulting clients, you probably get this too, is there they want to know, what is the ROI going to be? Because, right, because it takes some effort to get to make this happen. So is there a way to figure out what the value is going to be? You have a tool for that, right?
Erato: 09:41-11:12 Yes, yes, exactly. So my recommendation is actually to go onto our website, ProcedureWriters.com. There is a calculation there that actually calculates the return on investment. So basically, you’re able to say okay, how many if I create or improve, let’s say, 50 procedures and you say, let’s say you save one hour per procedure. And then you’ll say, okay, how much? How much is an hour per employee, say maybe $50, and then 12 months and then that we will calculate how much savings you will make in a year. And, and the truth is, is that most companies really focus so much on growth and how to grow and how to improve the revenue. But what they can’t really think about is like, Okay, how can I improve my costs, so that I can improve my profits, you know, and if you can improve your costs, automatically, you’ll be making you’ll be saving so much more money. And already that you also have a bit of turnover because your employees will be more satisfied because problems and early with problems, there will king in less stressful conditions. They work as a lot more predictable and consistent. And in general, it will create a much better culture within the organization. If you have proper procedures in place. And that’s just the working operational work, never mind, a culture, a culture that you can build around that, you know, in building a culture of improvement.
Josh: 11:13-12:13 Yeah, I would say anyone who’s curious to definitely check out that tool because you’d be amazed what just having your company, your operation being. The system’s already there, but you still haven’t documented yet. So you’re just getting them documented. So your team can work with them, optimize them, refine them using for training, cross training, all those things. How much money is just already in your business without having to do some kind of massive, risky innovation? It’s just, it’s already there. They just haven’t taken the time to make it better. So that that would definitely do that. Now, the other question that people are thinking about when they think of, you know, handing over the way they do things to someone else to write them for them. A lot of owners will think this is what I get often they’ll say, well, what Let’s do it ourselves like this seems pretty simple. You just you just writing the procedure down, I think we can do this ourselves, and so that they’re on the fence. Is there a reason why they shouldn’t do it themselves? Or how should they make that decision?
Erato: 12:14-14:00 Okay, well, first of all, the first question is okay, if you can’t be doing it for yourself, why haven’t you done it? First question. Second of all is, is your team trained to do it? Because there’s a certain way to write where it’s digestible. And we have a team of people that actually is trained to write in simple language to be able to understand it in the most the fastest way possible, because you want them to digest information. The second thing is, is that you know, most employees don’t come with focus, they feel that they need to focus on doing the core work. So if they’re going to be doing stuff that they first of all, don’t like, and it’s not the core work, they’re only going to deliver something that’s not actually of the best quality. And remember, these procedures need to be in such a good unstructured way that let’s say for example, you’re about to you find two of your key employees have found a better job, okay? And they want to leave the company. If they if they take away it, take the IP with them, then you don’t have any information. Let’s say they do have the procedures, but it’s written in a bad way. Imagine what will happen in terms of work and how much it’s going to cost you. You know, and also, even anyway, if it’s structured in the right way, in a good quality way, you’re training a new employee will be cut down from let’s say, from three days to one day, because you’ll say, Okay, this is how it work, then they’ll spend the day shadowing you, and then the rest of the time they can go back to the procedures and they can work on their own. And this is what you want at the end of the day is to create a culture of individuals that are empowered and not reliant on each other. And all the IP stays in the business.
Josh: 14:01-14:11 Yeah, I totally agree. That’s always the worst is when I worked with a company where their key employees just left and they say, gosh, I wish we would have had that documented before they leave us too late. It’s too late at that point.
Erato: 14:12-14:13 It is too late. Yeah.
Josh: 14:14-14:43 Well, I don’t want to keep it too late on a Friday night, I’m really glad you made the time to do this Erato because your service ProcedureWriters.com is essential. Anyone who’s thought about this, but they just never did it. They should just outsource it because it’s probably something they’re never going to do. So I think this is amazing. So people should check that out. But before I let you go, what’s one question that I,that I didn’t ask you? We think I probably should have asked you anything that I that I forgot to ask you about.
Erato: 14:44-16:06 And I think what’s important really is actually is that companies need to understand that if you have problems, the question she asked me is like, what’s the one advice you would give companies really, as small or medium or any is that. Most people, most companies are so used to the problems that they don’t see them. And I would like to turn around and say, they should be, the problems that they have is that they should be expecting the specific problems when the end of the day they’re not problems. In other words, they need to have procedures in place for those problems. And, for example, let’s talk about one of the multinational companies I work with. They always had a backup sales people. So because they knew people get sick, so they planned for those days. And that’s just a procedure that they put in that they’re going to have extra people to be trained for that. So if you go to a restaurant, and then you can see that they’ve only got one, one waitress, and they said, oh, no other way too sick. So the waitress was sick, it’s because they didn’t plan for that problem. Do you understand? So that’s what I’m trying. That’s the one thing that would say, for any CEO any, let’s say even employees that when there’s a problem, you can solve it by putting in the right procedure and asking the right questions.
Josh: 16:07-16:34 Yeah, I totally agree that’s a great insight that people are used to the problems they have. And so they’ve either minimized them or tried to forget about them and having a second set of eyes come in there to help. And then a procedure to prevent it or solve it is a smart thing to think about. It’s like the, we always say the phrase dysfunction is gold. As in, you have dysfunction in your business, but if you fixed it, you could there’s a lot of money in fixing that problem.
Erato: 16:35 Yeah, Show me the money, right.
Josh: 16:36-16:41 Yeah. And the systems are solid. That’s very cool. All right. So where can people find out more about you, Erato? Where should they go?
Erato: 16:42-17:03 Yeah, they can go to Procedure Writers dot com, they can find us there. I highly recommend it there when the return on investment calculation. There’s also a schedule call. We can have a free consultation, we can talk about the business. We can see some insights see how we can help and deliver value to our prospects and clients. Yeah. And that’s it.
Josh: 17:04-17:39 Awesome. Well, again, thanks again for making time for us Friday. And everybody who’s on the fence about getting their systems documented. And they’re afraid it’s gonna take too much time. Too much effort. I would reach out to Erato, go Procedure Writers dot com, and they’ll help you out. And again, thanks, everybody for joining us today on today’s podcast if you’re catching this on Facebook Live, or iTunes or any other player, YouTube, if you leave us a review, we do pull one review out of a hat a week. And then we mail a copy of that book right there work the system right to your house, so maybe you could be the lucky winner. Just leave us a review. Otherwise, we will see you all next week. Thanks, everybody.
Erato: 17:40 Thank you, Josh. Thank you, everyone. Ciao, bye.
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