What is business automation?

Everyday repetitive tasks simplified by technology to reduce errors and wasted labor. Great automation produces incredible return on investments for growing businesses.

 

Background

Frank_Cart-01Our journey starts with Frank. Frank is a fictional business owner that owns and operates a very successful hot dog cart chain “Frank’s Furts”. Frank’s Furts was found by Frank’s father back in the early 90’s. After his dad retired, Frank took over.

Starting out, Frank had two carts. He and his buddy worked part time while they worked their way through college. Wanting to make optimal profit, Frank started to experiment with when and where he set up his cart. He quickly started to notice patterns and shared the insight with his buddy.

After a year they had it down to a science and realized they could purchase another cart to set up at another prime location. Frank would spend time teaching each employee how to use the formula he first devised. By continuing to apply his strategy, Frank’s Furts quickly became a local icon.

In 2008, Frank received a call from a businessman two towns over that had one of his famous ‘furts while in town for a meeting. The businessman told Frank if he opened up a cart in his town he’d eat there everyday. Frank gave it shot, and was very successful.

Today Frank’s Furts has hot dog carts up and down the east coast. Over the last couple of years Frank has noticed a steady decrease in average profit per cart, but is unable to determine why this is happening.

 

Frank_sad-01Frank no longer runs a cart of his own; instead he sits inside a very stressful office wearing too many hats and pushing his operations team past their limits. We’ve got to help Frank and his staff. He works 80+ hours a week and is on the verge of a mental breakdown, and his staff is starting to make mistakes and snap at each other.

Frank had always trusted his employees when he was smaller, but now he’s never met most of them. This means that they’ve never had hands-on training directly from Frank. His formula for finding the best spot may also be different per county, city and state. The only way he’ll know this is by collecting data from his Cart Runners.

Directly or indirectly, every process inside his company operations affects the other processes. Being so close to a business’s daily operations, Frank now can’t keep track of all the different processes and make sure they are efficient.

 

Frank_Bubble-01Frank can either hire 2-3 more administrators along with salary, benefits, insurance and taxes or he needs to hire a tech company to streamline and automate these processes so he has more time to work on his business instead of in his business. After performing a cost-benefit analysis, Frank decides that paying $40k to $60k for consulting and custom automation software will produce a 3-year ROI of several hundred thousand dollars in employee hiring, training, retention costs and operations errors if executed properly.

We already have a number of ideas on how to significantly reduce redundant data entry by building cloud-based systems that tie one process to the next seamlessly.

But for us to do that, we 1st have to define the problems and outline the goals.

 

What’s the problem?

We start by asking all the right questions to learn how their operation currently “works”.

What we learn is their day-to-day operations include:

Ordering supplies for hot dog carts

The employees that run the carts (“Cart Runners”) email what they need at the end of the week. Every email is read, the supplies are ordered, shipped to the cart runner via Fedex and tracking information is sent in an email reply.

Shipping information for the Cart Runners are kept inside of an ever-expanding spreadsheet.
Accounting

Most of the carts take payments by cash and credit card. Cash is deposited by the Cart Runners at the end of the week.

Cart Runners are responsible for the upkeep of their carts.

Frank’s Furts reimburses Cart Runners for repair costs. Cart Runners email their receipts and reimbursement appears on the following paycheck.

Frank’s Furts pays their employees on a bi-weekly basis.

Problems seen in their daily operations:

Inefficient process for supply ordering and repair reimbursements. The redundant data entry, necessary double checking, and simple mistakes are costing them thousands every month.

Loopholes in accountability for tracking supplies and cash sales. They don’t even know where the leaks are so they can’t plug them.

Frank_sleep-01

After we get a grip on the issues and have all the problems written down, Frank is already starting to feel better.

For the first time in a year, he has a good nights sleep dreaming of a better future.

 

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