I feel I need to be upfront here: I probably have an unhealthy relationship with systems.
I get really annoyed when I have to expend creative energy on repetitive tasks. REALLY annoyed. (If you want to hear a rant, ask me how I feel about picking out fresh clothes to wear every. single. morning.)
It feels like such a waste. I would much rather spend that creative energy answering an email from you about a marketing question.
On the flipside, I love, love, LOVE systems. I like to believe that almost every annoyance can be alleviated by a good system. (If you want to hear a fairy tale, ask me how I solved that wardrobe issue! 😊)
For the sake of usefulness to a broader audience, I tried to set my neuroticism aside while writing this post.
Most of us use systems every day, whether we realize it or not. If you hang your keys in the same place every time you come home so you don’t have to hunt for them the next time you leave, that’s a system. If you wake up, make your bed, and eat breakfast in the same order every day, that’s a system.
These routines help ensure our most important tasks get done correctly and on time and also keep the tedious, repetitive tasks from become all-consuming.
Setting up just a few central systems in our studios can lessen our administrative workload and make our studios more profitable. These are some of systems I give the highest priority:
Calendar + Accounting Systems
A schedule and accounting system are the two systems I would say every studio should have from day one.
For an independent teacher, a simple calendar and accounting system with automated invoicing is usually enough, but fully-integrated systems do provide interesting reports that might inform important business decisions.
For multi-teacher studio owners, comprehensive studio management software will save your sanity! These systems can handle registration, scheduling multiple teachers across various rooms, manage cancellations, waiting lists, reminders, etc.
Systems that help you get paid on time all the time are worth the investment.
The lead generation system is the thing that connects us with the people who are interested in our lessons.
A website is one piece of this, but a more effective system defines and streamlines the whole lead pathway: How do we regularly and consistently get people to our websites? Once there, how do we capture their contact information so we can talk to them about lessons? Is our website set up to weed out the students who aren’t good fits so we can focus on the most promising leads?
Onboarding Process Checklist
Once a lead comes into our studios there is a set of tasks to complete to nurture that lead.
For my studio, this process starts with a phone call to the prospective student/parent, which is usually followed by an interview and sample lesson. Then, if everything seems like a good fit, we’ll discuss scheduling. Once we’ve found a time that works, they enroll. At that point, a student welcome/onboarding process is started with its own set of tasks.
Whether you’re a solo teacher or a studio owner juggling multiple teachers, having checklists of these tasks and tracking where each student is in the process can be hugely helpful.
Not to mention, standardizing this onboarding process can help you establish a stronger brand and craft a really special customer experience.
I’ve played with online platforms like Process.St for managing these checklists, but they’re usually overkill for studio processes and not worth your time. A Google Doc is more than sufficient!
Even “automated” systems require some human interaction to make sure everything stays on track.
Scheduling regular times every week to review all my business systems, make necessary tweaks, and complete any manual admin tasks keeps things from piling up and becoming totally overwhelming for my studio.
Goal-Setting and Review
The day-to-day management of a studio can be all-consuming and can completely derail our goals if we never take a step back to review.
Even in the busiest of weeks, I try to tune out the world for an hour on Saturday mornings to look at the big picture. I review the projects I’m working on and set priorities for the coming week.
Every quarter I do a higher-level review where I choose the projects I’ll work on for the next three months.
Lots of things still go undone, but the practice of systematically reviewing my goals gives me confidence that I’m spending time on the important things, not just the urgent things.
Personal Systems & Routines
Systems don’t have to stop at the business level. As business owners, the line between our work life and personal life is often very thin. Being disorganized in our personal lives will likely have an impact on our businesses.
These are some of the systems and routines I implement in my personal life to keep me productive in my businesses:
- Meal planning
- Morning/evening routines
- Exercise routine
- Regular days off to give my brain a break
- Restricting social media and email
- Annual visioning retreat
Adopting New Systems
Hopefully you’ve picked up a few ideas on how to start systematizing your studio.
If you try to implement every new system at once, it’ll probably be a disaster. Instead, start with the system that will have the greatest impact on your business and establish it thoroughly before moving on to the next.
The Sky is the Limit
After you’ve set up the basic systems, start asking yourself “What isn’t working in my studio?” and think about how you might design a system to reduce or eliminate that point of friction.
If you haven’t already taken advantage of your free mini coaching session, I’d love to talk about systems that could help build your studio. Schedule a call today!
(You already know that, with all the creative energy I’ve saved with my various systems, I’ve got loads leftover to have these conversations. 😉)