Systems and processes….
I know…it doesn’t sound very ‘sexy’ does it…
It doesn’t exactly ‘roll off the tongue…’
But I can’t stress enough to you how important they are if you have any ambition to do something special in your tour business and find the kind of success that you’re likely dreaming of.
When you’re starting out as a tour operator – or if you’ve had your doors open for a while and are looking to scale up, it is absolutely crucial that you think big, talk big and act big.
Hopefully by now – irrespective of the stage you are at – you have a pretty clear vision of what you want your business to look like in 2 years or 3 years time.
Well, my advice to you: it’s right now that you need to start talking like, thinking like and acting like that business, not 2 or 3 years from now.
From my experience, every single interaction you have in your business right now with every prospective customer, every travel partner, every supplier, every tourism organisation.every fellow tour operator…that other party needs to walk away from that interaction thinking you are bigger, better, more resourceful, more successful and more professional than you actually are right now.
They need to walk away thinking that you are that business you have in your 2 or 3 year vision.
Opportunities will flow, great things will happen and you’ll get to where you want to be much faster if you adopt this mindset – I promise you.
Therefore, resist the temptation to drive forward, take a small step back and get the requisite systems and processes in place that will allow your business to thrive now…and in 2 or 3 years from now when your vision for your tour business becomes a reality.
So, even if right now you’re a ‘man with a van’ operator, a husband and wife team, a team of 4, or a team 8…here are some of the key systems and processes you should consider implementing – or improving- in anticipation of future growth and success:
Roles and Responsibilities. Everyone in your business needs to be 100% clear on exactly what their role is, what they and everybody else in the business are responsible for so there is no role confusion – even if there are only two of you right now. My advice here is to list absolutely everything that happens in your business, ideally using headings such as: Sales, Operations, Product, Marketing, Accounting, Human Resources, Administration (your categories may differ slightly)
Then allocate all of these tasks to a team member on one internal document. If a task is shared? No problem – just make sure that it is ‘owned’ by one team member and that everybody knows who this is. Ideally this team member will then distribute out to others as required, but ultimately the responsibility for this task is theirs.
Sales and Marketing Process. This entire process needs to be documented from start to finish: from the receipt of and responding to an enquiry, follow up of enquiries, booking confirmation document, receipt of payment, handover to operations, feedback and review request, internal feedback…again, your categories here may differ slightly.
When documenting this system, imagine that this is the first day on the job for a new team member with no prior experience . Could they perform this task if you dropped a copy of this process on their desk? That’s what you are aiming for. That’s your stretch goal.
Tour Operations. Again, this entire system needs to be documented from end to end: handover from sales/reservations, loading of a booking into your system, confirmation of suppliers and the arrangements for the tour, the allocation and briefing of tour guides, the delivery of tour.
if your Operations Manager was struck down suddenly and for an extended period, could somebody else with no previous experience step in, open up an operations systems and processes document…and get to work without missing a beat? That’s you goal.
Knowing your numbers. This is something that didn’t come easy to me for a long, long time I failed to place importance on it.
How naive i was!
It took far too long for the penny to drop and for me to come to the realisation that it is the key to everything.
Knowing your numbers, creating financial and sales targets – and putting a process in place to check in regularly as a team – is right up there with the most important thing you could do in a young business.
It’s so important when you are setting these sales targets to get everyone in your team involved. It creates a real sense of ownership – that they are really part of something special.
Put a great system in place to set targets, incentivise your team, motivate them to push that little bit harder…and revisit on a monthly basis. You’ll be amazed by what you can all achieve.
I hope this helps!