How life in the clouds paid dividends for Earworx
COVID beaten, growth accelerated at Earworx – here’s how
An interview with Scott Marston from Earworx the other day reminded me just how vital a carefully crafted business structure and systems were for driving business growth.
Scott’s partner Lisa started the business in 2016. Earworx is a professional practice for earwax removal by qualified nurses using safe & effective micro-suction technology. They started the franchise process in late 2017, and today they have clinics in Bondi Junction, Canberra, Hobart, Launceston and Ulverstone and they are about to open a new clinic in Coffs Harbour.
So, I knew Scott and Lisa had a successful business, but I was amazed when Scott told me that their cloud-based operations were the reason for their success and why they have been able to survive COVID and in fact, continue to grow – successfully opening up new outlets through remote control while travel is so difficult. Scott admitted that they probably would not be here if they did not have their FranSystems operations to run the business through the challenging and rapidly changing COVID environment.
Check out the podcast where I interview Scott - Radio Show 108 Surviving COVID And How SYSTEMS Changed Everything With Scott Marston, Earworx.
This is why their cloud-based systems work so well
Carefully constructed and documented
Lisa spent much of the time documenting their processes when first setting up the franchise.
The structure of the operations was carefully planned so that repetition was eliminated, and procedures were grouped, so the table of contents and keyword searches were clear, and systems could be intuitively understood.
Where appropriate video was created first, then each operation was written up with images.
Each page comes up with the text-based procedure written in simple action statements. Where required each page also holds images, videos, links and downloadable checklists, forms, and anything else needed to make the explanation easier and more accessible to more people.
Systems are always up to date
Operations are never done. They are always a work in progress – or they should be.
Because these systems are digital, it is easy to adjust them, changing the numbers to add new sections or pages or to replace video or documents or links, or text when things need modified processes.
And you do not need to send out replacement pages when things change.
You add the changes to the system once and everyone has the new copy right to hand ready to use and up to date.
No excuse for not knowing.
The systems are easy to use – so they are used
Available on their phone, iPad, computer or any other digital device – these systems are always there at the click of a button.
The excellent framework means everything is easy to find using keyword searches or the table of contents.
If introduced correctly at induction training, staff love them, because the operations answer questions at the drop of a hat.
Training becomes easier
All of this makes it easier to develop training systems, especially if you have multimedia operations with different formats (video, images, text) to appeal to different people.
Where prepared well, the face to face part of the training focuses on making sure the main jobs are done correctly (in Earworx case this is how to clean ears and look after customers) and how to use the cloud-based operations for learning how to deal with almost everything else. You don’t have to instruct people face to face on how to change the EFTPOS roll – well-written instructions in the operations manual will be there when needed.
In these circumstances, training is so much easier to deliver and remember.
Staff have a system to remind them how to get things done
We all know we never remember the details after a training session. Well-written operations will support the face to face component by giving specific instruction on how to get that tricky task done – step by step.
Without, you will get phone calls asking for a refresher – all the time. Or worse, staff and franchisees will get on with the job their way, losing the consistency in appearance and service so important to franchises. Or worse, mistakes will be made that should have been avoided.
Provide a firm basis for performance management
Finally, proper operations which are easy to use, take away all excuses for not knowing how to perform a job properly.
Performance appraisals will measure how well the operations can be used as well as how well the job is being done. And where performance is not measuring up, sending people to look at the operations is a quick and effective way to bring everyone up to date.
And this is why their cloud-based systems saved their franchise group through COVID
The flexibility of the system has meant Earworx has been able to respond very quickly to the changing needs of COVID.
Earworx was classified as an ‘essential service’ so it could continue to operate throughout all phases of lockdown. However, Earworx also needed to operate in a way that made sure staff and clients were safe. They needed to respond to the continually changing requirements associated with managing staff/client interaction through COVID with different needs in different locations. And they needed to react fast.
Different systems can be put in place for different localities
For instance, North West Tasmania was one of the first areas to go into hard lockdown, which introduced a very different suite of rules on how their franchise in Ulverstone was to be managed.
Lisa was able to write up the rules in the central FranSystems software one afternoon, organise a Zoom meeting with their franchisee and staff first thing in the morning and the Ulverstone practice was able to implement their location-specific procedures immediately, ready to provide service without a break.
Similar locality-specific changes have had to be introduced to all their practices as States have introduced changed COVID safe rules in different locations over time. The fact the cloud-based system allows each location, each role, each staff member as needed to have specific permissions applied to release pages to them means each locality can have custom instructions. This takes away the confusion. Everyone gets what applies to them. And the changes can be made overnight and explained in a Zoom meeting the next morning, keeping everyone in the loop fast and very effectively.
Reduce the need for travel and face to face training
Earworx is no exception – COVID enforced travel restrictions have meant Zoom meetings have taken over. But what has become very clear to Scott and Lisa is that this method is so effective, it will stay with them in the long term.
They will always need the preliminary face to face induction training on how to get the core job done and how to look after clients. This training, until recently held in Lisa’s own practice in Hobart, is now held interstate delivered by registered nurses that Lisa has trained through the elaborate process using her FranSystems in conjunction with Zoom. Yet another time and money saving innovation that was inspired by the restrictions imposed with COVID.
And again, as with everything else, the whole operation can be kept running smoothly online using FranSystems and Zoom to make the connection. To their surprise, this has meant they can even open a new outlet in Coffs Harbour using carefully crafted FranSystems operations to show how the outlet should be set up and checking on how it is being done on Zoom. No travel or quarantine needed with a significant saving in travel costs.
Travel will, of course, return, but it won't be at the rate conducted before COVID.
Brian Keen has been involved in the franchise industry for more than 30 years and today is the Founder of Franchise Simply. His on-the-ground business experience as a multi-unit franchisee, franchisor and consultant helping many of the big names create their own franchise systems and growth over the years has been fed into Franchise Simply, helping today’s SMEs grow their business by franchising.
For more information you can contact Brian at Franchise Simply on 1300 960 136 or go to www.franchisesimply.com.au