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Why is systemization important for a company? Let’s find out by chatting with the Founder and Author of SYSTEMology, David Jenyns, to discuss steps to consider for an effective strategy to improve business processes – and why you should start immediately.
David’s entrepreneurial journey began in his early twenties when he sold Australia’s most beloved sporting venue, the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Since then, his business experience spanned from franchising retail clothing stores to founding one of Australia’s most trusted digital agencies, Melbourne SEO Services.
In 2016, he successfully systemized himself out of that business, hired a CEO, and stepped back from daily operations. Through this process, he became a systems devotee, founding SYSTEMology.
Today, his mission is to free all business owners worldwide from the daily operations of running their businesses. To achieve this, Jenyns spends most of his time supporting the growing community of certified SYSTEMologists as they help business owners implement SYSTEMology. He also delivers workshops, keynote addresses and hosts his popular podcast – Business Processes Simplified.
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Make Your Systemization Look Like A Million Bucks
George: This is the Conquer Local Podcast, a show about billion-dollar sales leaders, marketers leading local economic growth, and entrepreneurs that have created their dream organizations. They want to share their secrets, giving you the distilled version of their extraordinary feats. Our hope is with the tangible takeaways from each episode you can rewire, rework, and reimagine your business. I’m George Leith and on this episode, we welcome David Jenyns. In 2016, David successfully systemized himself out of his business, one of Australia’s most trusted digital agencies, Melbourne SEO. Through this process, he became a systems devotee, founding systemHUB and SYSTEMology. Today his mission is to free all business owners worldwide from the daily operations of running their business. Get ready conquerors for David Jenyns, coming up next on this week’s episode of the Conquer Local Podcast.
George: David Jenyns, joining us on the show. I am excited to learn about SYSTEMology. David, welcome all the way from Melbourne, Australia.
David: Perfect, thank you for having me. Yes, it’s gonna be a great episode
George: And you can’t really tell, but it’s morning there, just the beginning, David is ready, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to go.
The Importance of Systemization
David: Yep, first interview for the day, 7:00 AM in the morning, ready to go.
George: Well, I wanna talk about the book first. We kind of discussed it in the intro, I’m a big fan of systems, and you got 20 some odd years of business experience, and I’d love to get, what I’d like to start off with is just give us the overview of why systems are so important in your view and then let’s get into the book and what led you to put the book together.
David: Systems are such a key piece of business and they really are required to grow and scale your business. A lot of business owners, especially when they get started, they become the bottleneck, they train their clients, and their staff that whenever there’s a problem, you come to me, I’ll be the knight in shining armor who solves that problem, and then it builds up this real dependency. It often starts with the business owner but then can grow to other team members as well where the business becomes keepers dependent and then this really inhibits growing and scaling. You reach this ceiling that you can’t break through. And the secret to breakthrough is to get systems, processes, how-to documents, and use those to delegate down responsibility to team members that might be less skilled or lower cost, which in turn frees up your more skilled team members to focus on the tasks only they can work on. So that’s like a big part of it. There’s many different reasons and ways that systems help to improve business though. Another common one that people have, when they look to SYSTEMology, is if you’re thinking about exiting. Because the potential acquirer of your business is going to be thinking I wanna make sure this business continues to operate when the business owner or those key team members leave. And making sure that you’re well set up and so that the risk is reduced for the the buyer, ultimately ends up increasing your valuation.
Create Time, Reduce Errors & Scale Profits
George: No, and what a carrot to dangle to a business owner when they’re thinking about why they need to adopt systems that one day you might want to do something with this thing you’re building and your chances of exiting with a higher multiple when you have those systems in place are quite important. But I also, I think we should dangle the carrot that you’re just gonna run a better business and you’re gonna have a lot happier customers and a lot happier staff members if there are some frameworks there.
David: 100%. It’s all about increasing time for those key team members, reducing errors and waste by taking away the need for double work or double checking. And then obviously it sets you up for delivering a better product or service through to your end clients, which basically impacts everything. It impacts how referable you are, it impacts how often those clients are gonna come back, and continue to use your products and services. It makes it easier for your team to do things as simple as take holidays. Sometimes team members struggle to take holidays because you are always on the phone as the business owner saying, “Oh, where’s this up to? Or we need to chase that client up.” Or maybe they take one week off, but then they have to spend the next three weeks trying to catch up on all of the work that didn’t get done while they took their week holiday off because you don’t have systems and processes in place for other team members to be able to step in and take some of that work over. So oftentimes people don’t know how much it’s costing them to not systemize.
Systemization Starts With a Checklist
George: You know, for our audience where we have sales professionals, sales leaders, I’m sure we got a lot of entrepreneurs out there because I think if you’re a sales professional or a sales leader, you have an entrepreneurial mindset. But you know, I like to say that if you’re a sales professional it’s like you’re running your own small business. I’ve said that a lot on this show over the last five years. So even as an individual contributor, there are systems that we could put in place to get some freedom. And there was a book I read a couple years ago called “Discipline equals Freedom.” And I’m like, whoa, that, how does that add up? It’s by Jocko Willink and he’s a famous motivational speaker, he had that book, “Extreme Ownership” and I read it, it’s a light read, it’s pretty cool. But when I first saw the title, I’m like, okay, come on, so if I have discipline, how do I have freedom? And then when I read through it, just by putting some systems in place and some habit stacks in place, it actually does open up more freedom I found.
David: Yeah, it’s a little bit counterintuitive and one of the reasons why a lot of business owners, and founders, and certain team members, creative types, might avoid systems. I remember when I had the breakthrough moment, I used to own a digital agency, in part of that we had a video production business. And in that particular business I didn’t really know how to hop on the tools. I’m not a video guy, I don’t know how to edit in Premiere, I don’t know how to use the equipment inside and out. But when we launched that business, I remember going out on a shoot with one of our videographers, and on the car ride to visit the client we spent about 30 minutes of a 35 minute trip with him going, “Oh, did I pack the spare battery? Did I email the client to make sure they aren’t wearing checkered shirts because that doesn’t look great on camera. Did we email the script? Have I got that spare battery? Where’s the second lens?” We spent the entire time talking about things that just should have been handled by a good system. And at the end of that shoot I said, “Right, we’re putting a shoot checklist in place so next time we go on a shoot we know exactly what we need and we’re going to do that while we’re in the studio before we leave.” We put that into place. And then I went on another shoot about nine months later and I remember the discussion that we had in the car was infinitely different. We talked about, “Oh, what shot did he want to get and what emotion did he want to get across and what was the story he was planning on telling?” And I remember for me at that time that was that light bulb moment to realize that systems create space for creativity. It gives you a chance to think about those most important things. Rather than where’s that second battery, he was having space to think about how he was going to do the creative side of the video. And that’s when I realized that systems actually increase your creativity, not decrease it.
SystemHUB – A SaaS Platform
George: Well I love the story because it definitely helps us, I’m sure our listeners are right now going through their own stories of how they’ve, you know, maybe went to accomplish a goal and just kind of pulled the system outta their ass, and that trial and error and then you don’t really get a great job, but at the end of the day when you’ve got a a system in place and you iterate on that, get a chance to pull off way better work at the end of the day.. And the other thing that I like about it, and we’ve been noticing this and it’s interesting you brought up that you had a digital agency. But what I’ve been noticing is when we sell a client, let’s say we sell ’em a website, the definition of success is, is the website on or off? But yet in the background, you know that there’s probably 100 different things that are happening to bring that website across the line. And by being able to articulate that journey you actually are able to capture the idea of more value with the customer where they go, oh, that’s why your website’s $7,000 and the others online are like 400 bucks because you have all of these checks and balances and the things that you’re doing to make sure that the product is better. So, I find that also if we have a really good system, and we can show that system presale, we might even be able to get a larger value from the customer when it comes to an economic reward for the fact that we’re just doing more work in order to bring across that project. So SYSTEMology is the book I love the the subtitle, create time, reduce errors, scale your profits with proven business systems, and then we have this systemHUB company that you’ve created which is a sister organization, tell us about that.
David: Yeah, so systemHUB is a SaaS platform to store businesses’ systems and processes in the cloud. So when I first got interested in systems, I actually launched that company first and then we started to work with companies as they would document their process, like their how-to documents. And after doing that for a number of years, that’s what made me realize the software on its own is not enough. To build a systems driven company, you need to build a culture of systems and you need to get the staff to buy in and you need simple tools and it’s this ecosystem of having that level of support and the right methodology to introduce it to your clients and your team to then get it to stick. So that was really what SYSTEMology ended up doing. It was kind of to fill that gap and that void that I saw so many of our clients having, some got it, but most of them needed some level of guidance because a lot of them just didn’t naturally gravitate towards systems and they didn’t just get it. So we kind of created a framework for them to follow.
Business Processes Simplified Podcast
George: And it’s a great website, systemHUB.com and inside there there’s all sorts of blog posts where you talk about best practices when it comes to building out systems. And I did happen to notice that you have your own podcast.
David: Yes, so it’s been a little bit of a hiatus with COVID, but it’s called “Business Processes Simplified.” And typically what I do is I’ll interview business owners and business leaders and just have them share a system or a process that they use in their business. So it’s a bit different from some of the traditional podcasts where we are literally just going through step one, I do this, step two, I do that, step three, I do this, and then my team takes the recording and then documents that. So it’s a great way to kind of build out just starting points. I feel like lot of business owners and people in different departments, department heads, they just need starting points when it comes to systems and then they can customize that final bit and tailor it to their business and that’s really what the podcast’s about.
How to Implement A Remote Work Environment with Systemization
George: One thing that I was thinking about when I was reading through the notes and getting ready to speak to you David, is a lot of businesses right now are struggling with this remote, hybrid, back in person. You see very famous CEOs mandating that everybody comes back to work and then you see the barrage of comments afterwards of I’m quitting if I have to come back into the office. In the last couple of years our organization went remote 100% during COVID and then we struggled to bring people back in ’cause they kind of got used to it. But also we found that remote work without systems, it’s a nightmare. So it’s kind of the perfect storm where you have to build systems and you gave us the carrot to exit and get a good multiple, you’re gonna have happier staff. But I don’t know how the hell you would do remote work without systems. How do you feel about that?
David: 100%. I think COVID has revealed a lot of businesses and where some of the risks are and the dependencies on team members and what happened when certain team members got sick and couldn’t come in, would work continue? And if they’re working from home, how would team members know where to find certain things and how to track what they’re doing and report on where client work is up to. Systems and processes are really required for running a virtual team. And the good thing about it is, once you get it right, it actually opens up then a global workforce. It’s much easier for you to tap into emerging economies or economies where… The aim of the game in business really is really to find the best talent at the best possible rate. So depending on what the task is you go to where the great people are and with the right systems and processes in how you are getting work done, assigning tasks, ensuring people that remain productive, and they have what they need to do a great output then you’ll run an infinitely better virtual team. Like yeah, like you, I don’t know how you could do it without great systems and processes. There’d be a huge loss in productivity without it for sure.
Getting in Touch with David Jenyns
George: Well, you know, one of the things is we built out our sales organization here at Vendasta, and this is one of the scars that I wear and actually I wear it quite proudly. I wish that we would’ve moved to documentation process building earlier, because when we finally realized that that was going to be an important component, I think we probably overprocessed to make up for it, over-egged on it. Whereas if we would’ve done it as we moved down the road, it wouldn’t have been this mountain of work that needed to be accomplished. and one of the, I’ve got a carrot that I’ll dangle for folks. One of the learnings that I’ve had is how many times have we said, when did we make that decision? You’re doing something, and you’re sitting here going, when did we make that decision, and who made that decision, and why did we make that decision? But if you document those items with a decision log, now you can go back and say, oh yeah, that’s when that number changed. We made that decision, here were the parameters around it. And then you can make a decision, if that decision still holds or if you wanna make a change to it. So I’m sitting here with hindsight which is always, you know, it’s amazing, but I look back at it, documentation earlier, then you don’t have to do the heavy lifting, find folks like David that are experts at systems and learn from them because it really helps you to scale and to grow your business and to have that repeatable process. And at the end of the day, I think you’re just gonna have happier staff. So if we want more David Jenyns and we’re not able to come to Melbourne to see you for a pint, how do we find you online, David? And we’re gonna make sure we put all the notes so that people can hook up with you and learn more about your company.
David: Perfect, yeah, best to, like, if you’re listening to this you’re probably an audio person. So if you head over to Audible, there’s a copy of my book, “SYSTEMology” on Audible. And Michael Gerber, the author of “The E-Myth,” reads the foreword in that, and I read the book, so it’s a really great listen, or you can head over to Amazon to grab the book. And then if you want to go a little bit further, just systemology.com and that will link to things like the YouTube channel and the podcast. And if you need extra help, it’s there. That said though, the book, it’s most definitely useful and complete like it’s the full methodology outlined, and it’ll take you from no systems to starting to build that systems culture and getting some systems in place.
Why You Don’t Need to Systematize Like McDonalds
George: So one final thing, and I read this before I read the book, it’s in the list of notes and it says, why you don’t need and shouldn’t try to systematize like McDonald’s.
David: Yes, so a lot of people when they think about, well what’s a systemized business look like? In their brain they’ll think of companies like McDonald’s or Amazon or Google, and they have a picture in their head of what they think a systemized business looks like. But if we take McDonald’s for example McDonald’s has been doing this for 60 years. So you don’t wanna look at where McDonald’s is today and then say, ooh, that’s what a systemized business looks like. I need to have these big thick manuals that mean that I can take a 15 year old kid off the street and have him flipping hamburgers because he follows this very detailed process. And I tell him exactly how to do everything down to the point of how he takes out the trash. That works because McDonald’s has been doing it for 60 years, they’re a hamburger business, and they’re recruiting a certain type of team member to fulfill that role. But oftentimes a lot of the business owners and team members that are listening to this they recruit great, skilled staff, and their business is already running. So the process is a little bit different, like we might not need to tell that person how to suck eggs, they just need enough of a process, a checklist to achieve the outcome. But it doesn’t need to be over-documented. And similarly, McDonald’s didn’t start out like they are today. If you watch the movie, there’s a great movie called “The Founder,” and it tells the McDonald’s story. And one of the early scenes is they go out onto a basketball court and they chalk out what a store looks like and the fryer’s here, and the milkshake machine’s here, and the registers are here, and then they move it round, and that’s how systems start. They start raw and rough around the edges and as you said numerous times through the interview, then you iterate and that’s the key. You need to start to build the systems culture, then you get the output. But don’t start trying to build like McDonald’s is today.
George: So Australian folks and Canadian folks, we’re connected. It’s interesting, I’ve been to Australia a few times, I have a lot of Australian friends and we’re connected. Now the interesting thing is you talked about systemized like McDonald’s, but I know that in Australia it’s not called McDonald’s.
David: You are thinking Burger King.
George: No, I’m thinking Maccas.
David: Hungry. Oh Maccas, yeah, yeah, fair call, fair call.
George: Because I’ve been to Melbourne, I’m like I need to find a McDonald’s to have a Big Mac and my colleague from Australia said, “No, it’s called Maccas.” And I learnt that very early. But I noticed that you went right to McDonald’s.
David: You’ve definitely got your Australian slang down, G’day mate. I should have opened with that at the start of the show.
George: Well, and I could open with G’day eh?. Yet most Canadians don’t say eh that much. David, it’s great having you on the show and I’m a big fan of systems. I wish that I would’ve adopted systems a hell of a lot earlier in my long career, and I learned a lot from reading the book, and you got a great website there for your online company with a lot of great tips and it’s been great getting to know you here and welcome to being alumni of “The Conquer Local Podcast.” It’s been a pleasure.
David: Perfect, thank you for having me.
George: It was a pleasure having David Jenyns join us on The Conquer Local Podcast this week. Here’s some valuable takeaways from this episode. Systems help improve businesses. I wish that I would’ve learned that sooner in my career, but we’ve all gotta start somewhere. David mentioned that systemization is crucial so that businesses continue to operate when key members leave and it’s well set up so that there’s no risk to the buyer. In turn, it increases time for team members and reduces waste. It also sets you up for delivering a better product or service to your customers. Having a system in place will make you more referable to clients. And lastly, systems and processes are required to run a virtual team. It opens up a global workforce and benefits the economy. If you like David Jenyn’s episode discussing systemization in business, let’s continue the conversation and check out two of our episodes. Number 527: Scaling Your Business with Jason Herman, or episode 537: The Roadmap to Achieving Sales Success with Wayne Maloney. Please subscribe and leave us a review. And thanks for joining us this week on The Conquer Local podcast. My name is George Leith, I’ll see you when I see you.