The Personal Touch

2009 | Aug 26 in Entrepreneurship , Home Page News , Systems , Leadership

By E-Myth Business Coach,

Often, as our coaching clients begin designing and documenting systems they face a particular challenge: how do they replicate and document the personal touch they feel is theirs’ alone to give?

These business owners believe in the overall idea of systemization, but they become somewhat stymied when they realize that it means their personal touch, their “rainmaker status,” the patterns of behavior that attracted customers in the first place, must also be systematized in order for the business to function without them.

The First Step Is Recognition

The initial step is to recognize the reality. What results do you achieve in your business?  Yes, you created patterns of behavior (systems) that you’ve followed in order to achieve a degree of business success. You pride yourself on your abilities. You enjoy the fact that in your growing organization, nobody has the same personal touch with the customers that you have. I mentioned rainmaker status above, for often this is how this pride in the personal touch shows up; you feel recognized and special for your personal ability to achieve great results.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being good at what you do! It’s fantastic! You’ve found a particular way of doing business that has made you successful. But here’s the key concept: if the business is totally dependent on you – on how you do things – you’ll never be able to get away from the business. You can’t sell a business when you are the business. You can’t take a vacation from the business because when you go, the business goes too.

When you understand that, you understand that you have to let go of those rainmaker reigns and learn to replicate the processes you’ve used to deliver that stellar customer experience. If you systematize what has made you so close to your customer base, you will have a business that can function without you. You’ll have a business that can be sold or passed on to family members. You will be on your way to creating an E-Myth’d business.

Personalization is the Key

At E-Myth we know that the personal touch that you’ve mastered can be re-created as a system. A personalized system that communicates your values, vision, purpose and standards -- the heart of your company culture. Having a Strategic Objective and a set of “rules of the game” (your defined way of doing business), gives you the framework for creating the culture and necessary processes for your employees to achieve those same results.

So you must first create a clear vision and value statement, back it up with standards and structure that reflect your purpose and intention, then begin observing and analyzing the way that you personalize the relationship with your customers. Next, check any idea you have that it can’t be done, otherwise, you’ll fall back on the old way of just doing it all yourself.

Intense Observation and Self-Scrutiny

What will your systems look like for replicating the way you do business and interact with clients? It’s beyond the scope of this article to describe the process completely, but to begin, try capturing each leverage point of customer interaction. Then, create a repeatable system around that interaction. Become alert to interactions that you handle, especially those that, if asked about how you did it, you’d simply say “I just knew,” or “I did it, no problem.” Let others observe you in the midst of these activities and see if they can help you pick apart the actual steps you took to create that particular response.

One of my clients owns a bridal store, Mariel's Bridal Shop, who came to work with E-Myth because she could not handle the rapid growth that was occurring in her store. She had five employees who worked in the retail shop with her but the problem was, she was the only one closing the deals. Whenever there was an issue, a complaint or a client had a special request, they would ask to speak to Mariel because her name is on the sign. So in reality, although Mariel had five employees working for her, she was doing all of the work!  To help her streamline the responsibilities and train the employees on how she interacts with clients, she had one of the employees follow her around with a clipboard and recorder and document everything she did with a customer. What did she say with the clients to make them feel at ease, how did she describe the benefit of working with them, when did she take the clients to try on dresses, how did she fulfill the order request, in what fashion did she set-up the appointments, etc. After this stage of recorded observation, they were able to come up with the proper checklist of steps in the client experience at Mariel's Bridal Shop and created a script to follow for training purposes. All of which became the standard for working with clients at the shop. Sometimes, you are too close to what you do and how you interact with clients. Ask yourself, how would someone else recreate the process and achieve the same results?

Some business owners may find they need a more detailed client database to ensure all employess have access to the same information on your customers that you do. Maybe it’s a script that you create after carefully analyzing the key words you’ve used all these years to communicate the personal benefits to the customer. It might simply be annointing others to meet with those key clients, to partake in the overall engagement. Whatever’s required, use your innate entreprenuerial curiosity and beginner’s mind to scrutinize everything  you do and create procedures, processes and systems that others can use to replicate your success.

Pulling It Together

As suggested, the first step is often the most difficult… recognizing that the way that you’re conducting business may prohibit your growth. Realizing that because you feel you are the only one who can deliver the client experience in the way that you do, you’re the only one who can do the work of the business. Once you make a commitment to freeing yourself of that, don’t rest until you’ve created processes and systems around everything you do that creates that personal touch.

In this era of customized marketing, everybody wants to receive specialized treatment during the entire sales process and throughout every aspect of client fulfillment. Create personalized systems that make for that amazing WOW customer experience! If you do it right, your customers will continue to feel special long after you’ve turned the reins over to another or exited the company all together, since now your personal touch is part of the system solution.

Share Your Story

Is your business dependent on you? Could somebody else come in today and run your business delivering the same product/service that has made you successful thus far? Post a comment and tell us about your experience.


  1. .Thelma S. says:

    Thank you for this article! I struggle sometimes because so much of my business revolves around me and my relationships with my clients. Maybe it's time to start taking a hard look at those interactions to see if it is something that can be done by somebody other than me.

    This is helping me think outside the box. Thanks.

    Submitted Aug 26, 2009 7:31 AM

  2. .Leslie S. says:

    Anyone can be a witness for Christ.  That is my mission.  Anyone can create the inspirational witness jewelry from clay.  Anyone can tell "my story" but it would have a more profound impact if they had their own story.  I guess that is the answer.  Even though the vision for the clay pendants with a hidden pocket to hide messages in them, it was given as a tool to help others share their story of what Jesus has done for them...not my story.  www.HeartsWithAMessage.com has my story, how can you make it your own?

    Submitted Aug 26, 2009 7:41 AM

  3. .Freida J. says:

    Removing my self from my business has been a challenge for me, just day to day being able to work on my business instead of always in it.  Getting my employees to understand that our customers make the business and that they just want the same treatment from each of us.  This article helps me to relize that if I put the proper systems in place then I can go visit my sick mother in another city for a few days and not worry about how my business will be run while I am away.

    Submitted Aug 26, 2009 11:34 AM

  4. .Ron M. says:

    The article sounds very much like what I taught when I gave sales manager seminars.  It is amazing how many sales managers really just want to stay salesmen and never pass their customers and selling techniques off to their staff.

    Breaking the habit of just doing it yourself is very difficult for some people.

    Submitted Aug 26, 2009 2:53 PM

  5. .Ken N. says:

    It seems to me that hiring the right people and then properly REWARDING  them is part of the personal customer service endeavor. Very few employees making $8 an hour or so are going to be inclined to put in the extra effort to provide excellent customer relationships, even if they know how, unless there's something extra in it for them...commission, bonus, promotion, partnership opportunity, etc. As owners, if we want committed employees we need to give them something to be committed to...beyond their same weekly paycheck.

    Submitted Aug 26, 2009 9:08 PM

  6. .GEORGE W. says:

    This article has touched me so much. There was a day I went to sort a problem for two weeks my rural home! My business almost got to a standstill as the clients kept calling me to come to their aid, inspite of the fact that I had left my wife to be in charge. I am going to come up with a working formular and document the intricate parts of the business and communicate these to my wife who be standing in for me in my absence! Thank you Emyth Team you are doing a good job to enlighten us to be better entrepreneurs. God bless you all.

    Submitted Aug 27, 2009 12:15 AM

  7. .Maru M. says:

    Let your Ego go... and let your employee shine!

    I know what Im talking about , I was Mrs "I'm the only one who knows how to treat customers around here". My coach asked me non stop to take a good look at how disempowering this was for my staff, till I finally got it!

    First, I trained and showed my staff. Then, we talked in every meeting about the importance of making people feel important. Then we set a standard of service:"Make the customer feel glad you helped her, because you were so much nicer, patient and accommodating than Maru" and "When a customer ask for you by name, that means you have achieved an owner like status. Strive to act like the owner."

    Now I located myself outside the store and when someone comes to me and ask to take her special order , I say something like "Im so glad you came now, because (name the employee) is the absolutely superstar of wrapping cookie baskets! (I call the employee and say:) I do not let anybody else to wrap my gift baskets (look toward employee and say:) "I told Mrs T. you make people look so good when they walk in to the dinner party with one of the baskets you wrapped!"

    Thank the customer and discretely walk away.

    My staff feels appreciated, the customer feels I'm putting someone special to tend to her, and I enjoy more free time to keep thinking in ways to improve our cookie shop!

    Great article, every E Myth student has been there. Gracias!

    Submitted Aug 29, 2009 4:08 PM

  8. .Denise K. says:

    It is said when you become the teacher you are truly the student, Maru you have inspired me. 

    Today I am hiring my first staff using the e-myth strategy.  I am having all applicants come to a informational meeting and setting the foundation for what is possible as a team member at Success Equation 5.  A partnership between my company and each team member, that works for Succeess Equation 5.  They are valued as team members and are set up for success based on strong operating systems. A company that values the gifts and talents of each team member and provides an opportunity for them to be part of lives being transformed, including their own.

    I am so excited, because what is possible in the informational meeting, is that I may not hire everyone at my meeting, however it is an opportunity to do something so unique in hiring, that I will at the very least create raving fans of my companies, product, dreams do come true at Success Equation 5.  It is a chance to share the primary aim of my company, my product and create a reputation for future success.

      Stay tuned I will let you know what the results are.

    Submitted Sep 2, 2009 6:26 PM

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