James Altucher has a podcast that I enjoy occasionally. One of the things he said was some of his greatest mentors were people that he has never met, but their words on paper had a profound impact on his life.
I can relate to this. There is so much great information in books. The two biggest problems I have is finding enough time to read them and sifting through all the garbage. On average, I read about 50 books a year.
Once you’ve read 20 real estate books, you pretty much don’t need to read one of those again. All the information is just rehashed. You get less and less out of each minute spent reading those books. That’s why I have moved on to business books.
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The Simple Checklist
I am starting to feel the same way about business books as I used to feel about real estate books, but there is one book that I’ve started implementing, and it has had a huge impact on my business. The concepts are pretty basic. As a matter of fact, you might already be taking this action but not consciously…
The boring old checklist. Atul Gawande’s book The Checklist Manifesto opened my eyes to how impactful a well thought out checklist could be. The basic idea in the book is that checklists can reduce errors and increase discipline in an organization.
Atul Gawande is a surgeon, and he is researching the effects of checklists for preventing human error in surgery. The results are astounding. They found that implementing checklists for repetitive processes dramatically reduced the amount of mistakes that happened, which in their case saved lives.
Throughout the book, images of my own business kept coming up. I was remembering the mistakes that we had made. According to this, most of them were preventable. All we needed was to be more deliberate in what was in our checklist and its use.
I’ve been in business for a while. I’ve created, recreated, and accumulated quite a few checklists, but our process for using them was broken. Some “checklists” were never even written down. Depending on who did the work, the outcome was different. This needed to change. We needed consistency.
I am not going to lie. It was a struggle. It is difficult to force employees to do things differently than the way they have been used to doing them.
Checklists I Use
Here are just some of the checklists that we have written or use on a daily basis in our real estate investment business.
- Rent-Ready Checklist: We use this prior to a tenant moving into one of our properties to verify that everything is in working order. We test everything. There is no worse way to get off on the wrong foot with a tenant than to have them move in and have five work orders in the first week of them living there.
- Tenant Screening Checklist: We make sure we have all of applicants’ information before approving their application.
- Pre-Construction Checklist: We use this before a contractor starts work. We make sure that the contractor has a copy of the contract and a copy of the scope of the work. We have copies of the workman’s compensation and liability insurance and a bunch of other little things.
There are quite a few other things as well, but these were the first ones that came to my mind. Just these few checklists have saved us countless man hours and have made our business run more smoothly. I have no way to measure the effects on morale, but life becomes a lot easier when you don’t have to rush around putting out fires that could have been prevented in the first place.
Do you make checklists too? How do they help you run your business?
Let’s discuss in the comments section!