My family and I recently took the plunge into the world of RV’ing. I enjoy operating all kinds of vehicles, so towing our new purchase round trip for the first time did not present too much concern, but I knew I’d have to be on my game. Anything new and different presents learning curves. One of the things I discovered soon, after plunging in, is the need for checklists. There are a variety of procedures and processes that must be in place and carried out for the RV to run properly, and to ensure that I do not kill someone on the roadway.
For instance, some of the procedures I had to learn included hooking up to the truck, unhooking and leveling the RV, putting out the slides and awnings, loading the motorcycles, dealing with the holding tanks and understanding black water, grey water, and fresh water. There is simply too much to do without a checklist, it would be very easy to make a misstep or forget something that could have a detrimental impact. In fact, if you think about it, there are a lot of instances in which checklists help ensure positive outcomes. Examples that come to mind are pilots and the checklists they use prior to flight, or captains of ships before they leave port. Surgeons have checklists to ensure they have all the proper supplies and staff before surgery, and each of your stores likely have opening and closing procedures organized in some sort of checklist. I’m sure you get the point.
In high stakes, detailed oriented environments, without checklists, there will always be something left out. It’s just too easy to miss a “small detail that has significant consequences.”
Checklists are not a new phenomenon, however, with what is available on the Internet, they are much more easily created, refined, and used. Checklists help do a couple of important things. We take advantage of a process someone more experienced than ourselves (perhaps an expert in the field) has refined. We can leverage knowledge by taking advantage of their experience and in doing so, avoid mistakes. Of course we can figure things out on our own, however when we leverage the knowledge and experience of an expert, we save time, money, and are able to focus on what is most important. Another advantage in using checklists is we outsource tasks, freeing up mental capacity to focus on areas personal strengths or to even enjoy the process more because there’s less stress involved in mentally keeping track of everything.
It took purchasing a very complicated RV for me to realize that leveraging an experienced source to implement strategies, tried and true processes and procedures is critical to everyday business. This is more critical to multi-unit franchisee owners that may not realize the need for outsourcing or trusting an expert to guide them through something new and different. Gaining help from those that have been there before will greatly increase the likelihood of success. Can one do it on their own? Possibly. Will it take a process of trial and error that costs money and time? Definitely.
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