Learn about SOPs, how to implement them, and begin building an SOP-centric service business.
[00:00:03.210] – Karl Palachuk
Good morning, Dennis. Good morning, everybody. Dennis always sends me a nice note before class. Welcome to a brand new course. Actually, it’s not a brand new course, but it’s brand new for the year and it’s our first course of the year.
[00:00:20.850] – Karl Palachuk
This is also the first course ever taught at what is now it Service Provider University, but used to be the small. I can’t even remember now. Anyway, a great little seminar. That’s what it is. So my book company is called Great Little Book.
[00:00:42.990] – Karl Palachuk
And so I thought, oh, great. Little Seminar is a great name for company. Well, it’s really a stupid name if you don’t know the name of my book publishing company. So anyway, It service Provider is a much better fit and this course has evolved tremendously in the last ten years. But the focus is on the things you actually need to do the most.
[00:01:06.340] – Karl Palachuk
I think important things you need to do and on having a complete focus for your company on standard operating procedures. One of the things that I think is important, if you’ve got employees, please consider having them take this course and you’ll see why. One of the things that happens is that you need people in your company to understand why other people are doing what they’re doing. This will help them do their job better, whether you like it or not. If you’ve got employees, they spend a fair amount of time speculating, why are we doing this?
[00:01:49.000] – Karl Palachuk
This seems so silly. This seems stupid. When they talk to each other at barbecues or outside of your office, that is frequently one of the topics of conversation. Why do we do this? Well, tell them it goes a long way.
[00:02:06.550] – Karl Palachuk
So I’m Karl Palachuk. If you want to get a hold of me, [email protected], I will try to get back to you as quick as I can. If you don’t get an answer in a reasonable amount of time, send me a note and just say, hey, I’m putting this at the top of your inbox. I got an email from one of my employees this morning that was all caps. Read this.
[00:02:28.100] – Karl Palachuk
She’s like, I asked this once before, now you have to answer me. So I get busy. And as you do many hundreds, if not thousands of emails and so just put it on the top. So today we’re going to talk about kind of the introduction to all of this and about using standard operating procedures, the entire mentality, as a way to think about improving your business. And you’ve heard the old story that you need to work on your business, not just in your business.
[00:03:05.880] – Karl Palachuk
Well, that’s what we’re going to do today. So we have lots of handouts. And let me just give a quick, super quick tour on our site. When you go to the site, which you’ve all been there, otherwise you wouldn’t be here, but on the right hand side towards the bottom is a class outline and so you can jump to any unit from there. So next week if you want to just jump into unit two, you can do that.
[00:03:35.430] – Karl Palachuk
Module one at the top is basically advertising, right? So module one is visible to everybody before they register. Module two is visible after you register.
[00:03:50.250] – Karl Palachuk
And on the right hand side of the screen you see there’s the recording, and then it says handouts. If there are handouts, they will be listed there. Once we’re done today, my staff sends this off to have transcript made and so we post it up with the transcript and so that’s all available to you. It will be in the same place where you went to view the class today, except it will become a recording. And if there’s any extras, and the extras are going to be things like links to outside resources that are not part of the handouts within our own site.
[00:04:32.620] – Karl Palachuk
Anyway, poke around and if you have any questions, just send us a note. The email for my staff is concierge at smallbizthoughtscom and whoever gets to it first will be able to answer your questions. One of the beautiful things about It Service Provider University is that you can click on a link that says show me my classes, and then build a plan to get certified in the classes you’ve taken. The way it works is we have a quiz each week and what we do is we have between twelve and 15 questions per quiz. And those are just for your practice to focus on what’s important in the class.
[00:05:19.820] – Karl Palachuk
And then the certification is a separate class you would take. And it is made up of 50 questions taken from the quizzes in this class. So basically you will have seen every single question. If you choose to take the quizzes, you will have answered all those questions, you’ll know what’s right and what’s wrong, and it will be very straightforward to be certified. And then you get a nice little logo that says you’re a Certified Professional from It Service Provider University.
[00:05:53.090] – Karl Palachuk
And there’s the concierge address if you have any questions. All right, so let’s get started. Are there any questions before we move on?
[00:06:06.470] – Karl Palachuk
Many of you, there’s a lot of people in this class. Thank you. Many of you have seen my motto for life is nothing happens by itself. So that’s my motto for the class as well. So we’re going to start by focusing on actions and activity.
[00:06:25.530] – Karl Palachuk
So I want you to take notes. And I don’t care if you carry around a notepad with you, or start a little note on your phone and just add to it, or set a note to the side and notepad or something on your computer, but I want you to take notes about things you might change in your business because ultimately classes are wonderful. If I didn’t think classes were wonderful, I wouldn’t teach them. But if you don’t take action, they’re a lot less wonderful. They’re just an intellectual exercise that does you no good.
[00:07:01.460] – Karl Palachuk
So I want you to take actions and if you have questions, you say, how does that actually work in the real world? Or how would I apply that in my business? Send me an email and I’ll be happy to chat with you.
[00:07:16.490] – Karl Palachuk
Today we’re going to talk about how you’re going to organize this stuff and how to get started. The important thing is that you need to have a place, and I say binder. But your standard operating procedures can be in a folder, an electronic folder, a paper folder. Most of us today want them electronic. So I personally love having files and folders in a place where all of my staff can get access to it and we can update it.
[00:07:48.310] – Karl Palachuk
And the beginning of the year is a great time to update your documentation for us. We’re switching to a new financial package. So all the stuff we did on QuickBooks, we now have to repeat that documentation on zero. And so figure out where your company is going to keep this. Whether it’s in something like it glue or within your PSA or within some other tool, it doesn’t matter where it is as long as you have a process and it’s organized in such a way that everybody can find it.
[00:08:23.570] – Karl Palachuk
The other thing is we’re going to talk about your goals. And so I hope at the beginning of the year you’ve got a few goals in mind. But if not, we’re going to try to figure out how we can set up some SOPs to reach your goals.
[00:08:44.140] – Karl Palachuk
Now, one of the handouts is a change plan and there’s also a selfassessment on SOPs. And the selfassessment is something I actually give to people when I start a coaching program. And if you don’t have a culture of SOPs, don’t worry about it, don’t feel bad. Every single coaching client I have ever had has the same issues. They either don’t have SOPs or they have inconsistent SOPs or they have really good SOPs for stuff that Bob does.
[00:09:22.090] – Karl Palachuk
But all the stuff that somebody else does, we don’t have good SOPs for. Or they’re all in a nice little binder on a shelf and nobody actually does them because nobody’s been trained on them. So inconsistency is the name of the game and it’s not you, it’s the industry. It’s human nature. It’s the way of the world.
[00:09:44.320] – Karl Palachuk
It’s ironic in some ways. If you have a hobby, think about your hobby, whether that is something that you do with your hands or running or working on bicycles or whatever. Any hobby that you’ve got, you do the same thing again and again and again and you get better and better and better and you build up muscles and muscle memory, whether that is for carving or painting or anything. Your muscle memory helps you to reach a higher level of consistent output. And so that’s what you need to do in your business.
[00:10:28.730] – Karl Palachuk
And so I say that it’s ironic that in one part of our life we do this as a second nature, but in our business, it doesn’t seem to be natural. And yet we all know. I mean, how did McDonald’s or Subway become such a gargantuan international food franchise? Well, it’s because if I go into McDonald’s in Germany or Ireland or Australia, I know what I’m going to expect. And there are going to be a few regional differences, but for the most part, I know what I’m going to expect.
[00:11:04.650] – Karl Palachuk
And I always ask myself, why would people go to McDonald’s in France? Why would people go to a McDonald’s or a Subway in Thailand? Well, it’s because they know what they can expect. And it’s the same thing in your business. Your employees need to know what to expect.
[00:11:25.220] – Karl Palachuk
Your clients need to know what to expect. Your standard operating procedures are more than how work gets accomplished and things get checked off a list. They are your brand. They are what makes your company your company. And we’re going to talk a little bit about that in just a minute.
[00:11:45.880] – Karl Palachuk
So throughout this course, I want you to make lists of all the stuff that we think, oh, that sparked something. If you only do one thing in this class, if you just take an hour a week and focus on your business and turn off your other monitors and actually dig into it and start letting your brain wander about how this might apply to this or that piece of your business, that’s where I think the juicy goodness happens. So I’ve got a book called the Absolutely Unbreakable Rules of Service Delivery. And one of the biggest rules is you cannot control people, but you can control your process. So you can’t control employees.
[00:12:34.110] – Karl Palachuk
We’ve all had good, bad, and mediocre employees. You can’t control clients. You can’t control salespeople. You can’t control vendors. You can’t control product quality that shows up at your doorstep.
[00:12:51.160] – Karl Palachuk
You can’t control your distributor. You can’t control almost anything except the processes inside your business. And so I think all problems are fixable by processes. If I’ve got somebody who’s consistently paying late, well, I adopt a policy that says from now on, we get prepaid for everything. I can control that, right.
[00:13:17.570] – Karl Palachuk
If I’ve got a client who just continually asks for quotes and never actually buys anything, I start charging for quotes. No matter what your problem is, you can solve it with processes and procedures. And that includes getting employees to put in their time cards on time and getting clients to treat you with respect and making sure that a desktop is set up right the first time, every time, and that you don’t have to worry that something wasn’t done the way you want it to be done. That’s all done with processes and procedures. So I rarely read slides.
[00:13:59.210] – Karl Palachuk
But let me just spend a minute talking about some definitions of we have policies. Policies are above all of these. Policies are things like we raise our rates every year, we get paid in advance for everything. We minimize downtime, we always back up everything, and we refuse to move forward until we know that we’ve got a path backward, right? Those are sort of big philosophical things.
[00:14:32.270] – Karl Palachuk
And then you get to processes, procedures and checklists. And they are nested in the sense that a process is a name given to a series of tasks that result in a general outcome. So, for example, on the next slide we’ve got some examples. But basically, if you’re going to move to a new ISP, that’s a process, the ISP Move process. And then a procedure is a set of specific action steps that achieve an outcome within the process.
[00:15:07.160] – Karl Palachuk
So a process will always have one or more procedures. The simplest process is a one page checklist with whatever, three checks on it, how to change a password, that’s a process. It’s a very simple process and it only has one procedure and it only has one tiny little checklist. But you might have within the ISP move, a procedure for documenting the old and new networks, a procedure for setting up accounts on the new network, a procedure for reconfiguring the router, on and on and on. Those are all procedures.
[00:15:47.050] – Karl Palachuk
Within each of those procedures, you have one or more checklists. So a checklist is the finest level of detail within this hierarchy. And the checklist is sort of the pedestrian level, it’s the sidewalk level of administration, right? A checklist will go to a technician who will sit down at a computer and actually execute things. The things that you execute on a series of checklists will constitute a procedure for the most part.
[00:16:21.810] – Karl Palachuk
If you think about using your ticketing system, it is procedures that get into ticketing systems. So you will have a procedure to set up the new configuration. You will have a procedure to configure the router and firewall. You will have a procedure to check that email is flowing, right? And each of those will have a checklist.
[00:16:47.220] – Karl Palachuk
And again, all of these can be big or small. My network documentation workbook or my network migration workbook that I wrote with my brother Manuel. So the network migration workbook has a 200 page checklist. Now, the reality is it’s a series of nested checklists and it’s a series of nested procedures. But basically you can move an entire domain, a domain controller that’s got every piece of critical equipment and procedures on it, from one piece of hardware to another with zero downtime.
[00:17:27.150] – Karl Palachuk
You just have to have the right checklist, right? So you can basically do anything if you have the right checklists. So that’s why we spend so much time on this. So when you think about this like network migration, if you’ve got a server, whether it’s in the cloud or local. You’re going to prep that server.
[00:17:49.010] – Karl Palachuk
You’re going to have checklists to build the server and document everything. You’re going to have a procedure to move the email. You’re going to have a procedure to move the data. You’re going to have a procedure to set up the accounts on Office 365, right? All of those things have checklists.
[00:18:04.470] – Karl Palachuk
And so when you build any process, in fact, when you quote a project, you divide it into these chunks because you can then say, okay, this procedure, I know for a fact that we’re going to spend about 8 hours on this procedure. I know we can get done in 1 hour. This procedure, I know is about whatever 1 hour per X amount of data, right? And then you get better and better at all of those things. In our class on project management, we talk about how to turn this list of processes and procedures into a quote, which then becomes a series of tickets, which then become the execution of the project.
[00:18:50.580] – Karl Palachuk
So it all flows basically from left to right, from setting these things up, estimating what needs to be done, defining all of the pieces of it, and then that becomes a quote, which becomes tickets, which becomes the actual execution. All right? So that’s the intro. Any questions before we move on? And for those of you who are new here, thank you.
[00:19:15.170] – Karl Palachuk
When I ask for questions, it just means I’m taking a sip of coffee.
[00:19:23.060] – Karl Palachuk
But if you do have questions, put them in the Q and A. Do not use the chat. I forgot to mention that I’m not a chat guy. I think chat was invented by aliens to take over the Earth and keep us from being productive. All right?
[00:19:37.100] – Karl Palachuk
So I love the emotion revisited. If you haven’t read it, I wish I could make a nickel off of the email revisited, because I would sell copies of it and included it on all my classes. But basically the emth is the myth that just because you’re a really good technician, you should go into business for yourself because you make a bunch of money. That is never true. Having business skills are completely different from having technical skills.
[00:20:06.670] – Karl Palachuk
And that’s true. You’ve seen dentists who don’t reappoint when you leave the office, and you have seen lawyers who just have papers stacked up to the ceiling and don’t know what the hell they’re doing. They might be good at the law, they might be good at dental work, but they don’t know how to run a business. So Gerber looked at businesses that succeed in businesses that failed. And we all know the stats that about 20% of all businesses go out of business every year.
[00:20:38.250] – Karl Palachuk
And that’s an average. But you know what 100% guarantee this year? That at least 20 or 25% of the It service providers in the United States are going to go out of business. It’s literally a guarantee. I worked really hard to maintain a mailing list that’s around 10,000, which is really hard when 15% to 20% of them disappear on a regular basis.
[00:21:05.140] – Karl Palachuk
Some people stay because they moved from one job to another and they’re still in it, but they just don’t own the business anymore. So then you look to who doesn’t go out of business and it turns out franchises almost never go out of business. Only a small percentage of franchises ever go out of business and it usually has to do with the boss being involved in illegal gambling or something unrelated to the core business. So I’m not saying you need to be a franchise, but you need to be franchise. Like.
[00:21:39.620] – Karl Palachuk
In other words, you need processes and procedures for everything. And I love to tell the story of Subway. So Subway is the largest food franchise on Earth. And the reason that they’re successful is SOPs my daughter has worked at three different Subways in two different states and she’s an absolute fan of Subway. She loves their bread and their ingredients and the way that they work and the way that it smells when you toast the bread and everything.
[00:22:13.470] – Karl Palachuk
She loves everything. Well, it turns out Subway sells to their franchisees a bucket with a line on it. And the line is determined by the number of square feet in your store and they sell soap packets. And the size of the soap packet is determined by the square feet in your store. So let’s say you’ve got a store that’s 1000 sqft front and back, okay?
[00:22:45.560] – Karl Palachuk
There’s a bucket for that size store. You fill it with water up to the line. You put in the only soap packet available because it’s designed for your store and anyone with any skill level at all, a 16 year old who’s never mopped a floor, can clean the floor in a Subway. And I know this is seems off topic, but I’m just telling you, let that soak in the way that you get more work done at a high quality from people who are lower on the skill set is you document processes and procedures, right? If I were to hire everybody on this call and say, okay, I need a bunch of people we’re going to install, I’ve got a client that needs 200 desktops installed.
[00:23:36.270] – Karl Palachuk
So I’m going to hire all you guys and you’re each going to get a handful of desktops and we’re going to go. And the way that I would guarantee that whether your skill level is low, medium, or high, that every desktop is installed perfectly is I create a checklist. And now I have standardized the quality of service. For some of you, it will be below the level that you’re capable of giving. Some of you, it’ll be at that level, and some of you it’ll be above the level of what you’re capable of doing.
[00:24:05.270] – Karl Palachuk
We used to literally have our sales people come and help us install large operations. And then I would contract with my local It consultants in the user group, and they would all do it our way. The reason is, as long as they’ve got a checklist and they go down the checklist in the exact order, it is literally exactly the same as if I had been sitting there. So that’s why we use standard operating procedures. So if you’ve got a newer technician or a technician who they’ve been around a few years, but they’ve never been allowed to configure network equipment.
[00:24:48.710] – Karl Palachuk
They don’t understand higher end switches or managed switches. They don’t understand firewalls or routers. Okay? They want to learn that, well, you’re going to send them to school. You’re going to get them some training.
[00:25:00.720] – Karl Palachuk
They’re going to watch your competent technicians do it. They’re going to be given a checklist, and then the competent technician is going to watch them do it. And they’re gradually going to learn those skills. Doing that without checklists makes everyone’s life much more difficult because you can say, oh, no, remember we do this first. Remember we were on the wizard first, and then we open the pork.
[00:25:26.430] – Karl Palachuk
Okay, well, write that stuff down. There’s absolutely no reason not to write that down. And again, this goes back to the thinking about like a hobby. You do it naturally in many pieces of your life. If you’re a cook, right, there are certain things you do that you prep the kitchen, you prep the pans, you prep the food.
[00:25:45.460] – Karl Palachuk
You do everything in a very specific order. And so at work, you should just do it the same way have checklists and put things in the right order. And I remind you that your SOPs are absolutely part of your brand. The behavior of your company is defined by standard operating procedures. So United Airlines beat up passenger and dragged him off an airplane.
[00:26:19.100] – Karl Palachuk
Now, is that part of their brand? Unfortunately for them, it is. Unfortunately for them, that is a piece of their history. And whether they like it or not, they had standard operating procedures in place. And as I recall, it allowed this contractor who wasn’t really a United employee to beat up this doctor and drag him screaming off the airplane.
[00:26:47.780] – Karl Palachuk
Well, okay, you can argue those are really, really bad policies, but the execution hurt their brand. At no point did their logo change. At no point did their letterhead change. At no point did their advertising change. All of the things that are commonly thought of as branding are parts of the picture.
[00:27:09.400] – Karl Palachuk
But the way you do every single thing you do in your company is part of your brand. In fact, it is your brand. The way you hire affects your brand. The way that you train affects your brand. The way that you onboard clients affects your brand.
[00:27:24.340] – Karl Palachuk
Everything you do. And Princess cruises. Same thing. They had an outbreak of the coronavirus on a ship, and it basically sat off the dock in Japan and it couldn’t go anywhere. Well, that’s not their fault necessarily, but it affects their brand.
[00:27:47.460] – Karl Palachuk
So what are your SOPs to make sure that you maximize how your business is perceived? Right. That’s part of what we want to do. So this isn’t just a matter of delivering technical advice or technical service. It is about delivering all of your service.
[00:28:09.340] – Karl Palachuk
I love this quote. The second one. Simply put your brand as your promise to your customers, right? It’s everything that they do. And this quote is not by Suzanne Evans, the way you do anything is the way you do everything.
[00:28:24.730] – Karl Palachuk
I think it’s Eckhart Toll. Tolle. But whatever the origin of the quote is, it’s true the way you do anything. So if a client sees that on the first job, you come in and you wander around and you’re dressed like you just got out of the fields and you seem disorganized, and you spend half your time in their kitchen and the other half working on computers, and you seem kind of sloppy and disorganized. That’s what they’re going to think your service is about.
[00:29:00.780] – Karl Palachuk
So we have an SOP for a first client visit. Obviously we have a dress code, but we also say, look, our first job, we want it to be something that is reasonably small, quite manageable. Like, for example, we’re going to sit at every desktop. We’re going to document that desktop. We’re going to apply all the patches, fixes and updates.
[00:29:23.220] – Karl Palachuk
We’re going to verify that it’s clean of viruses. We’re going to install our tools on there, and then we’re going to start building the documentation for that client’s network. Let’s say it’s an hour at each machine. We’re methodical, we’re consistent, we’re professional. We get in, we get out.
[00:29:45.900] – Karl Palachuk
We charge them exactly to the penny what we said we were going to charge them, even if we find that they’ve got a massive database running on a desktop that nobody knew about before we took on the client. And we know that we have to create a ticket to move that and document it and back it up in the meantime, but make sure that the client is as safe as possible. We still charge exactly what we said we’re going to charge because the client’s first impression of us is extremely powerful.
[00:30:18.440] – Karl Palachuk
So you have to remember that client impressions for any interaction, whether it is a very simple short thing or a six hour endeavor, there is something called the end peak rule. So the most lasting impression the client is going to have is either going to be the last thing as you’re walking out the door, or the peak of their experience. So the peak could be when you come in and you hand them out your brochures and you get everybody in the conference room and you introduce yourself and you present how good customer service is going to be provided from now on. Or it might be the middle, where you are just head down quietly, letting them be as productive as possible while you go about your work. You just have to manage that, and you have to think of it in those terms.
[00:31:14.010] – Karl Palachuk
Too often, people just go sit down and do their stuff, which is fine, but you have to remember, the client is always watching and the client is getting an impression of how you show up and how you work. So you need to do that with intention.
[00:31:35.200] – Karl Palachuk
I’ve always had a thing in my It company, so my original company is called KP Enterprises, and we had a thing called the KPE Way, and it was the way that we do it. We have a way that we document networks. We have a way that we onboard clients. We have a way that we hire people. We have a way that we bill.
[00:31:56.070] – Karl Palachuk
We have a way that we collect invoices. We have a policy about we don’t park next to the front door of the client’s office. We park on the other side of the parking lot so their employees can have quick access to their own building or their clients, right? Just tiny little things. But we’ve got a way that we do everything, and it is modeled, at least in the concept, on the HP way.
[00:32:21.520] – Karl Palachuk
And if you Google the HP way, you’re going to find two basic sets of rules. The original from the newer one, which is around, I think, 1970 or 72 or something like that, they’re essentially the same. But the HP way starts with, we are a for profit company, and so we’re going to do things in a way that makes money. But we’re also going to have a focus on the clients. We’re going to have a focus on balance.
[00:32:52.670] – Karl Palachuk
We’re going to have a focus on the way that we’re going to provide consistent, highquality products, services and support. So you need to have if you don’t have it already, you need to have a mission, a vision and a purpose for your company. And the mission and vision, it can be very straightforward. You don’t have to be like, oh, we’re going to be the unique element in the universe. No, you can say that.
[00:33:26.340] – Karl Palachuk
Our mission is to provide the highest possible tech support with regard to It services and security in the Sacramento area or whatever. Your vision is simply, what would the world look like if you achieved your mission? Right? So it helps you begin to see, oh, well, it would look like our clients are always secure. They don’t get viruses or they don’t open phishing emails because they’ve got proper training.
[00:33:59.760] – Karl Palachuk
They don’t have downtime. They support us when we say they need an extra backup or that we need to take a backup offsite. They trust us, right. All of those things become actions that have to be executed. Okay?
[00:34:18.160] – Karl Palachuk
If there’s always going to. Be a backup and it’s always going to work well. That means you got to test it. That means you got to talk to the client. That means you have to have some engagement there.
[00:34:26.340] – Karl Palachuk
If they’re never going to open phishing emails, that means you or at least they’re not going to click on them. You have to go through training. Okay? So you got to put a training piece in place. You got to make sure that how that gets paid for is either separate or built into your pricing, right?
[00:34:43.740] – Karl Palachuk
All of the activities of your business flow very quickly. This is not some pie in the sky thing. They flow very quickly from mission to vision to actual day to day activities and procedures. And so, SOPs literally help you achieve your mission by simply being the checklists that make possible the actions that have to take place for your vision to become reality. And by the way, feel free to put in questions in the Q and A module at any time.
[00:35:18.260] – Karl Palachuk
The only time I’m open to interruption is when I’m presenting. We develop the KPE way and it’s the way that we do things. And a really great example is actually Small Biz thoughts. Small business Thoughts has its own way as well. It’s part of our brand.
[00:35:36.780] – Karl Palachuk
Sometimes I look at new marketing opportunities and one of them is, oh, we can send out this text message at 03:00 in the morning and wake everybody up if their phone is set to ding when they get a text message. But it’ll be an advertisement from us and everybody in the company gets to ask the question, is that consistent with our brand? Is that how we want to be perceived? Is that the kind of company that we are? And when everybody can hold you accountable to your mission, that means a everybody knows what it is, but B you have taught them how you as an organization want to show up in the world.
[00:36:23.100] – Karl Palachuk
You should have your company way of doing things. And again, it’s as simple as just building the muscles of success. Not, not to hold the knife just right when you’re whittling necessarily, but how you do every little thing. And some of it sounds really picky. But the pickier stuff is only possible because we built an entire culture to take care of the bigger stuff.
[00:36:52.330] – Karl Palachuk
And that focus on processes and procedures has worked itsp way down into the pickier stuff. And a great example is literally standing up from a computer. In every company that I have owned, you are not authorized to stand up from a client’s desk until you have verified that you can get to the Internet. That you can open and edit files, whether it’s on the server or cloud storage, that you can print and that you can send and receive email. If you can do those four things, that’s a four point checklist.
[00:37:30.120] – Karl Palachuk
You can stand up and the reason is because if you sit down at a client’s machine because they said, my Adobe Acrobat doesn’t open, right? And you fix that, and then just by happenstance, something goes wrong with the printer when you stand up and they sit down. They say, ever since Carl left my computer, I can’t print I’m not sure what he did. You eliminate that by simply having a four point checklist that allows you to stand up. And sometimes you actually find issues that the user didn’t know they had.
[00:38:07.340] – Karl Palachuk
And that doesn’t mean you have to fix them right away, but at least you’re aware of it and they’re aware that you’re aware of it. And it’s just those tiny little things. It’s like having a waiter who doesn’t feel like it’s okay for him to lean his elbows on your dining table, right? It’s the little things that make a difference.
[00:38:29.540] – Karl Palachuk
So when I talk about branding, I literally I have just to my left, four and a half, 5ft. To my left, I have a whiteboard. And it says across the top that says two things. First, it says nothing happens by itself. And then it says, branding is everything we do, every single thing you do, every action you take, right?
[00:38:56.610] – Karl Palachuk
Think about again. Volkswagen. This a few years ago, Volkswagen designed a diesel engine that was super smart. It was able to run in an extra clean mode when it detected that it was being measured for emissions. So rather than putting their engineering into actually reducing emissions, they put their engineering into cheating the systems that measure emissions.
[00:39:32.280] – Karl Palachuk
Now, I think this is a funny story, but I don’t own a Volkswagen dealership. Imagine if you own a Volkswagen, and you bought one of these things, and you were told by a salesperson, who was told by an engineer that this is the cleanest machine in the world and that you are helping the planet and life is good and you’re a good person. If you buy this, you have been lied to. The salesperson has been lied to. So they don’t trust the company they work for.
[00:40:06.450] – Karl Palachuk
The customers have been deceived. Prospects are like, I’m not sure I want to do business with that company. Employees. The employees in the company, almost every employee in every dealership at every Volkswagen dealership did not know that they were lying to their clients. If you’re a supplier, if you do business with them, right, there’s a point at which it’s just like, man, I’m not sure I want to do business with that company.
[00:40:36.380] – Karl Palachuk
And that affects absolutely everything. So it’s not just a problem with the engineer. It’s not just a problem with the management. It is a problem for everything they do. And even today, their stock is affected by the payouts that they have had to make.
[00:40:55.200] – Karl Palachuk
And it turns out they’re not the only one, because they worked with some other diesel providers to pull similar sorts of things. And so that kind of stuff, it affects how you are perceived as you go to market.
[00:41:14.360] – Karl Palachuk
Finally, I love this picture. This is an actual picture. And if you Google NASA Moon checklists or something like that, you will find lots of pictures of these little checklists. How do you walk on the Moon? You walk on the moon with a checklist so you don’t forget to do something.
[00:41:38.080] – Karl Palachuk
Among other things, we’re looking for a rock that’s got these kinds of stripes in it, because that means it’s a sedimentary rock, and you need to crack it open if it’s too big. But we definitely need a sample. If you forget to do that, you got to go back 30,000 miles to go get the rock, right? So you can’t do it wrong. And so you have a checklist on your arm, and that way you make sure everything on the checklist gets done in the order and needs to get done.
[00:42:10.780] – Karl Palachuk
The other thing that’s super cool about this picture is that they don’t have an $8,000 watch. They’ve got a little timex on a Velcro strap, which I think is just awesome.
[00:42:26.800] – Karl Palachuk
Dennis says that the Volkswagen thing is something that his wife remembers about Volkswagen, and she’s not a car person, so it’s the one thing that stands out in her mind. So, again, checklists allow you to hire technicians who are less technical. In fact, a lot of the stuff I’ve been saying this for ten years now, actually more than that. But a lot of the stuff we do today no longer requires you to be very technical. Right.
[00:42:58.390] – Karl Palachuk
Marketing and doing stuff on Hootsuite is absolutely something you can send off to administrative assistance. Setting up Office 365 accounts is not a technical job. That’s an administrative job. A lot of work that we used to think of as technical can be pushed down to people who are less technical and often less expensive. Recently, in 2022, we moved about a little under 50 domains from one hosting service to another.
[00:43:36.340] – Karl Palachuk
Some of them were what are what can only be described as critically important websites, like my online community, which is a major source of activity within my company, our store, obviously, which is a revenue generator, and then many minor websites. We have a lot of websites that are just promoting one book or one service, right? And then we had some customers who are paying us good money, and they need to have their website never go down. And in that process, I worked with Kara, who had a decent and growing understanding of DNS. But when we were done with that process, she had a great understanding of applying DNS and all of the things related to DMark and DKIM and email flow and all the things it takes to move dozens of mission critical websites from one hosting to another with zero downtime.
[00:44:44.300] – Karl Palachuk
It raised her level of understanding, which, as I said, was decent and growing into actually good. Like I would totally at this point ask her to move a website, do something exactly like we did without me touching it or being involved in any way. So that is done by having a checklist walking through it really slowly, making sure that you’ve vetted, and then you’ve got all the details worked out and then executing it again and again and again. And every time there’s an issue or a problem or a small little thing that didn’t go right, you fix it. You go back and you tweak and you improve, and you tweak some more and you improve some more, right?
[00:45:25.070] – Karl Palachuk
And so that’s how everything in your company can get better. And that’s one of the reasons why I really encourage you to have a system where everybody in the company has access to the documentation and the processes and procedures and that they all have permission to update those things. So billing invoicing, all right, that’s going to be a front office thing. But you need to make sure that the people working in the front office have permission to update that. As processes, procedures, websites and interactions change, technicians need to update the most common list that they see all the time, which would be like monthly maintenance checklists.
[00:46:09.820] – Karl Palachuk
New PC set up checklist. New laptop set up, new office 365 set up. They need to be able to update that as the simplest thing is an icon changes, a menu changes, but sometimes there’s a whole new interface and you can’t have the next technician, especially a junior tech, come along and have the documentation be completely wrong. So the last item on every checklist is update the checklist. And therefore your company sort of has built in by design the concept of Kaizen, which is continuous incremental improvement, right?
[00:46:52.490] – Karl Palachuk
It means that they all take turns improving things. And if you have nothing, if today you have no new PC checklist, that’s okay. Start with a piece of your letterhead and put in number one and then say sit down at computer number two. Turn on the computer, whatever it takes. The most common thing that is missing from a checklist is the first step.
[00:47:20.850] – Karl Palachuk
So people will say, oh, download the updates. Well, where am I, where did I go? What did I click on? Am I on a website? Am I doing something on the local machine?
[00:47:33.220] – Karl Palachuk
Right? So you write out whatever you can, and it might be a crappy seven sentence or half sentence list of things that you did, but then you type it up and the next person takes it and says, oh, okay, so I’m going to click on the start menu and I’m going to start typing update. And when I see, you know, check for updates, I’m going to click that, okay? And so every time somebody touches that documentation, it gets better and better and better. And in particular, when you have somebody who has less experience, they may have just come to work for you in the last month or their lower level in terms of training or experience, they’re going to fill in some gaps that the higher level people just gloss over because you know it and you’ve got it memorized or it’s just automatic, right?
[00:48:31.880] – Karl Palachuk
You’ve got the muscle memory. You just haven’t documented what you do. And that’s why some people are freaked out about documentation, because they think, oh, I don’t know how to do it because I just sit down and I just do it. Well, that’s not true, right? I mean, if you think about your morning routine with shower and brushing your teeth and combing your hair, yeah, you just do it.
[00:48:52.970] – Karl Palachuk
You might even do it in the exact same order every day. But you could document that it’s literally a matter of just being aware, slowing down a little bit and writing it down. And all of this seems to take time, but the reality is it only takes more time the first time, and then it takes less time every time after that. And so over time, your documentation just gets better and better and better, and everybody on your team gets better and better and better. And then every once in a while you’ll say something like, look, this comes up, we’ve got an issue.
[00:49:28.600] – Karl Palachuk
People sit down, they start working on machines and they’re making noise, and people in the office are complaining. Okay, so we’ll put an item way at the top of the new laptop set up that says to turn the volume down as soon as you are able. And that way the dings and beeps and the fun of setting up a new machine does not disturb anybody in the office. Those sorts of little things are the niceties that raise the level of your service to the next level. And they’re simple and they’re easy and they’re obvious after somebody has already told you about them.
[00:50:01.040] – Karl Palachuk
Nothing is obvious before it’s obvious, right? Question we have a checklist for setting up a new CompTIA. Most of the clients keep those documents where they can find them. They see it as something of value, that is oh, you see it as something of value? That is the DWP way.
[00:50:20.790] – Karl Palachuk
Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, part of this is working with your clients. Later on, we’re going to talk about some checklists that you can help your clients actually improve their processes and procedures. I love giving clients a copy of their documentation.
[00:50:36.700] – Karl Palachuk
Actually, I had one client that they were our client for like ten years, and then they got an office manager who got in a snit with one of our technicians and said, look, I really want to have a different It company. And they hired a different It company. And then about, I want to say maybe a year later. A year and a half later, they came back to us and said, please dear God, help us. Out.
[00:51:02.150] – Karl Palachuk
And we did, and we found that all of their documentation was missing. And so we recreated all their documentation and unfortunately we had to charge them for it. But I remember giving that binder to the owner and saying, put this in a box with your end of year financials and never ever let anybody take this from you again. This is something that you have paid now twice to have us develop. And we have it all electronically and we will give you a copy of that every year in PDF format.
[00:51:43.210] – Karl Palachuk
So you’ve got it forever. But you need to protect it because it is a piece of understanding your network. And any technical person can come in here. You may not understand our documentation, but every technical person will understand it in a minute and it is huge value. And clients don’t understand this stuff until you explain it to them, right?
[00:52:03.880] – Karl Palachuk
They have no reason to understand it. But that’s a piece of, in Dennis’s case, the DWP way, and it was part of the KP Enterprises way. So what’s your way of dealing with documentation? What’s your way of dealing with clients? Begin to do that with intention.
[00:52:27.260] – Karl Palachuk
One of my favorite quotes, Abbott, is a cable. We weave a thread of it every day and at last we cannot break it. And there’s many, many quotes on habits and I love them all. But this is one of these things where at first nobody has habits of documentation. That’s just not a natural human thing, unless you are a cook or you’re making beer and you want to make sure you document everything so you can make it exactly the same or maybe just a little bit better next time.
[00:52:58.040] – Karl Palachuk
So when you have this mentality, then you think of it in terms of, I’m going to intentionally build the habits that will make my company more successful. And don’t worry about training your technicians to follow your habits and worry that they’re going to go off and start their own business. First of all, almost no people who are happy as technicians want to start their own business. It’s only those who are unhappy as technicians that want to start their own business. And second, if you train somebody from whatever the ground up to be a great technician who has great processes and great procedures, that reflects well on your company and when they go out in the world and spread your excellent processes and procedures to the four wins, it is good for your reputation.
[00:53:45.940] – Karl Palachuk
It’s good for your brand, it’s good for your company. I’ve had several technicians who are my former techs. All of them are still in touch with me and most of them come to a barbecue when we have one. But they have gone out in the world and they have made their way and they literally point back and say, I learned how to do this the right way at KP Enterprises, right it’s huge. So super quick note, we’re almost done, but I will take questions here.
[00:54:21.140] – Karl Palachuk
To write this, basically, somebody has to write it. Anything is better than nothing. You cannot edit a blank page and then everybody else who touches it after that is allowed to update it and update it and update it for the most part. You might have a beginning paragraph that says background. Sometimes we have to do this and that and blah blah blah, and kind of give context for it.
[00:54:46.540] – Karl Palachuk
But most checklists are simply sit down, open this. And we’ve made a big habit because of training new people that we literally say log into QuickBooks, log into the Microsoft portal, log into Intermedia or sureweb, we make sure that people know exactly where they are. So you need to be brief. You don’t have to have full sentences if it doesn’t make sense. But it should be really clear where everybody is bullet pointed.
[00:55:21.060] – Karl Palachuk
And see, I’ve got the little square bullet point checklists that’s one of the web dings or something. Use those on a regular basis. It’s just literally built into Microsoft Word. And be active, not passive, right? So active means do this, click this, do that.
[00:55:43.870] – Karl Palachuk
It doesn’t mean that all of the services that need to be updated should be updated by the time you leave. No. Update the services. Boom. Right?
[00:55:55.410] – Karl Palachuk
That actually will help you to have shorter processes as well. Chris has confused. Does the documentation you leave with your clients include your specific KPE checklist or just higher level? So what we leave with clients for most of them is a definition of their network, right? This is how each machine is configured.
[00:56:18.520] – Karl Palachuk
These are your IP addresses for the outside and the inside of the firewall. The outside and the inside of the router. We’ll print out again, they’re not going to understand a lot of this stuff. We’ll print out things that matter to another technician. Like, think about it this way.
[00:56:33.600] – Karl Palachuk
If Carl gets hit by a bus and Chris is the next technician to come in, how much time should he waste reproducing documentation that should already be there, right? So that’s what we would leave with the client is enough to define how their systems work, how they’re configured, so forth and so on. And that way we’ve got the faith that we can easily replace ourselves for some clients, we will actually print out and leave with them a copy of the latest new PC set up, new PC checklist. Because here’s the deal. They don’t want to do this.
[00:57:16.370] – Karl Palachuk
In fact, they will say, I don’t understand that. They’ll say like what? Apply patches, fixes and updates? I don’t know what that means. I just hit enter whenever something pops up on my screen.
[00:57:29.150] – Karl Palachuk
Right? So it gives them a sense that you’re not afraid that you have to protect your job by protecting how their office equipment is configured. And so you don’t look like you’re, I don’t know, fearful of losing your contract. You look like a complete professional, in my opinion. I’m personally a believer that the documentation, the configuration of client systems should be interchangeable between MSPs, the way your medical records are supposed to be portable from one doctor to another.
[00:58:13.440] – Karl Palachuk
Now, the doctors still haven’t figured all that out. The big hospitals have, but most of the doctors haven’t. But the client has bought and paid for this information. It belongs to them, and they should be able to keep it. The interesting thing is I made that exact statement almost with those words in the very first book I ever wrote, which was the network documentation workbook.
[00:58:41.080] – Karl Palachuk
What about Passwords and the Keys to the kingdom? Great. So we’re going to talk about this a little bit later in the class, but basically one of our standard operating procedures is that we store critical information in the administrator account. So all the licenses are registered under [email protected]. The hardware is the warranties are licensed using the address [email protected] and so forth and so on.
[00:59:15.300] – Karl Palachuk
And so the result is that anytime something needs to be renewed, whoever has access to that email is going to be able to request a password reset, and then they are going to be able to have the keys to the kingdom. As you say, there’s a handful of passwords that have to be written down. Those need to be in a secure place, but they need to be in a secure place accessible to your primary contact. And we have, on more than one occasion, literally handed a tool and an address, a username, and a password in a sealed envelope to a client and just told them, put that in a locked file cabinet. And when I get hit by a bus, that may become useful when you need to get access to your administrator account or the passwords on the firewall and the router and so forth.
[01:00:10.420] – Karl Palachuk
So you need to be very careful about those things. And especially today, passwords are all in the news, but make sure that they understand that you’re sharing it with them, because they bought this, they paid for this. They have no interest in abusing or misusing this information to destroy their own computers. Some do it by accident because they’re idiots, but most of them are not. Most of them are smart enough to make a profit and pay you your exorbitant fees for managed services.
[01:00:46.160] – Karl Palachuk
All right, let’s see. Richard for some reason, my Outlook had this webinar at Tenant a. M. Pacific. It said, Ryan, what might be the recording is going to be ready very soon.
[01:01:00.210] – Karl Palachuk
Naya is circling me, waiting for me to finish so she can download it and post the recording.
[01:01:10.900] – Karl Palachuk
So, yeah, Dennis says they use a name other than the default administrator name, and that’s cool too. Part of the process. All right, so quick note on writing an SOP just keep it as quick and easy as possible. And remember, the last item on every checklist is update the checklist. All right, so we’re overtime, so I’ll just continue answering questions as long as you want me to stay.
[01:01:43.840] – Karl Palachuk
But in the meantime, some homework. Do the self assessment on standard operating procedures. Not to make yourself feel good or bad, but just to know where you are and to know where you might want to put some attention. And then create your own template, like your header, your footer, your font, your little square checkboxes and so forth. Later on, we’re going to talk about some of the norms of storage and naming conventions and all that, but whatever you’ve got, put it in there.
[01:02:18.990] – Karl Palachuk
And you can literally have a document that if somebody needs to create a new document, they open that Word doc Save as the new document name and away they go. And it’s they don’t have to change the fonts or the what’s bold or what the bullets look like and so forth and so on. So create that template for yourself if you don’t already have one. If you’re using some other technique, whether it’s your PSA or another tool or something, you still need to standardize the way that you get information in there and what it looks like. So begin that process so that you can train other people on your staff.
[01:02:58.230] – Karl Palachuk
All right. And we do have some extra links, so make sure that you check those out. All right, any other questions before we go and see? That’s me taking a sip of coffee.
[01:03:19.600] – Karl Palachuk
All right, then. Very good. So we will get the recording up as quickly as we can. All of our classes are always at 09:00 A.m. Pacific on Tuesdays.
[01:03:32.300] – Karl Palachuk
And so I’m sorry that Richard didn’t have that at the right time. I did notice for my own system that at the turn of the year or no, at the time change in the fall, my calendar appointments were off for like a week. They were off by an hour. So several people had the same issue. Well, I’ll verify that it’s correct in zoom, but it should always be 09:00 A.m.
[01:04:06.880] – Karl Palachuk
Pacific. So thank you for putting those notes in, Matthew and Richard. Cool. All right, so we’ll get the recording up as quickly as we can. And in the meantime, if you have any questions about the homework or if you want any feedback for whatever reason, go ahead and send that to me.
[01:04:22.450] – Karl Palachuk
With that, I thank you all and I will see you next week.
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