Have you ever felt like you’re spending too much time working in your business instead of working on your business? Rick Bertino, WTS Certified Business Systems Professional, says if you’re spending too much time putting out fires, implementing effective and efficient systems is your solution.
Today, Rick Bertino — Founder of G.E.A.R.S Business Solutions — gives us an up-close-and-personal look into how he works with clients to enhance their systems for more effective and efficient operations.
Using his 30 years of organizational experience as a compass, Rick explains the common issues that businesses have and how they navigate away from chaos into sustained growth.
In this episode we discuss:
- What it means to refine your systems
- The value of organizing your information
- How to know if it’s time to tweak your processes
Host: Josh Fonger
Guest: Rick Bertino
Please Note: The following is a computer auto-generated transcript and will include some inaccuracies.
Josh: Welcome to the Work the System podcast where we help entrepreneurs make more and work less managing their systems. And I’m your host, Josh Fonger. Today, we have a special guest, we have Rick Bertino, Rick started Gears Business Solutions, which is growth and efficiency around refined systems to help business owners identify and implement from the top down clear, organized and documented systems with processes that anyone can follow, and find and execute flawlessly, and identifies resources and solutions to continue improving. Alright, Rick, welcome to the show.
Rick: Thanks, Josh. Good to be here.
Josh: Well, why don’t you tell us, Rick, what brought you here? How did you become a systems expert? And why did you start this company called Gears Business Solutions.
Rick: Default, it really was by default, in the sense that I spent a lot of a lot of my career in sales, investment business primarily working with financial consultants. And then working with one particular financial consultant who was also a money manager went off on his own, we both met each other at a company, he went off on his own. And he was doing charting, investment charting. So basically, taking stock charts and drawing patterns are doing what’s called pattern analysis. And that pattern analysis, the objective is to when you draw the right patterns give you probabilities of whether things will continue to go up or down in a particular stock or market. So I spent some time with him because you needed some help organizing his operation, somebody to run it, really. And so I found myself to man operation, working with him and organizing and managing everything, in terms of the entire operation, while he’s on the front end, doing his charts, and getting the word out to the world about what he does. So I started to get exposure to a lot of differences for lack of better word or good word systems, and processes. And I wasn’t consciously looking at them as systems and processes I was consciously looking at, what do we need? How do I put it in place? And then I found myself constantly tweaking it, which is something that if I look back on my career, I’m kind of an expert, a tweaker, I look at something, I’m always trying to make it better. You know, and when you’re in sales, you have to be careful that at the end of the day, you got to make sales, you got to bring in money. And I was aware of that. But I also had that side of me that wanted to focus on how to make something better, look better, process work better. And so I spent about seven or eight years with him, with Chris. He, he and I split and I ended up getting connected with a guy named Greg, who is a government contract, has a government contract management firm. And he said, Rick, Look, you’ve got 35 years of experience in industry. And once you come in and see it, take a look at our processes and see what you can improve. Which was completely different from anything I’ve ever done in terms of a formal, intentional focus on systems and processes. But I said okay, because I was at a point in life where I was looking to do something different and kind of almost test and see what skills that I had and what I could do with them. So came up with Greg started evaluating assistance and processes and initially looked at Emyth and I talked about Emyth. Of course, you’re very familiar with what they do. But it wasn’t kind of the succinct fit to what Greg was looking for. And I ended up finding, you know, you and Work the System, and talk to Greg about implementing that. Interestingly enough, he’s hiring me to do that. And I’m looking for a resource to help me help him. But it made sense because I needed a formal structure, which is what I lacked to help implement systems. And so with Work the System, I was able to give myself and Greg a structure to go by. And you know, that four legged, simple four legged stool, but very important four legged stool, have a vision, your strategic objective, where you want to go with the company, what’s your character, who you are? Then, you know, second leg operating principles, what’s the behavior that we’re going to be driven by and guided by? And then the specific processes or working procedures? And then the fourth leg being the procedures for procedures, you know, how do you write a working procedure? So, I brought that to Greg, and he complimented. In fact, the other day said, you know, we’re in a great place right now, and we could have never gotten there without the systems in place. And I think what even is more important to Greg is, the fact that as they grow, they’re positioned to handle growth, a lot of companies focus on growing. And they say, well, we’ll do this, when we get there, we’ll do this, when we have more money, we’ll get organized, you know, or take on this particular project, when X. And I don’t believe in that. And because I think what you have to focus on is preparing for success just as much as you might even prepare for avoiding certain types of pitfalls. But you’ve got to put yourself in a position that if you have growth, you can handle it. And if you can’t handle that growth, if you’re not in a position, what what’s going to potentially happen, and you know, that client, you know, if there’s issues and you’re not able to support what the client needs, or what you said, you could deliver to that client, obviously, it’s not going to work to your advantage. Internally, you know, if you don’t have enough staff, if you don’t have the systems in place to handle certain types of business, there’s that creates chaos internally. And obviously, as a result, people leave and what happens when people leave, now you have to replace it with somebody, you gotta train them again. So it’s, you know, good systems versus not having systems in place could truly impact a company in a negative way. But getting back to your question, I mean, that’s how I got into almost kind of backdoor or indirectly into this business. And as a result, I really enjoyed it. And Greg has been instrumental in helping me also build my business out with other clients.
Josh: Well, it’s a good answer for you, you switch careers, or career paths based on client need. And, you know, we’ve talked a lot, just for full disclosure, Rick is one of the certified business systems professionals. So he’s a true expert, a true pro at putting systems into place. So what? And so you had this experience with Greg, what has it been after that? Because now you seem to get other clients? What have you refined your process? And how do you work with clients? I mean, do you have a process for how you work with clients?
Rick: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I take in the framework from Work the System than what I applied with Greg and his government contract management firm and, and really have applied that to other companies. Because it is a framework, I mean, why reinvent it, Sam, and you have put a lot of time and effort into building it. And it works. So why reinvent the wheel? But what’s really interesting is what I’m able to do really does not matter what type of company you are, I can take the framework from Work the System and what I’ve done with Greg and apply it anywhere. Now, part of that has to do with the fact that I don’t have to be an expert, or really that knowledgeable in a company or about a company in order to help them. Because what I’m really doing is I’m helping you help yourself. I’m helping you understand. I’m giving you a picture of where you’re at versus where you can be when it comes to organizing your company. Organizing information is really what it comes down to is all about organizing information. Half of what I get paid for, if not more, is helping companies organize information. You know, hey, Rick, I’ve got this information here. I’m not sure where to put it so that everyone can find it. So therefore, as a result, I mean, I’m working with a construction contractor, I’m working with an electrical contractor. I’m helping a guy with his jiu jitsu and fitness facility in the gym and company that he has. So it can be a broad array, now for me, selfishly I probably am better off focusing on just a couple of areas and building that out because it’d be easier for me if I just work with government contract management firms. But I’d like the variety and like the challenge. So that’s the answer to that question. I mean, I, we can talk about some specifics of some things that I’ve done for a recent company, but you tell me when?
Josh: Yeah, think that’s, that’s interesting. So you have a framework. Right now you’re working with a variety of companies. But yeah, why don’t you give us a specific example of what, what is like, because people can theoretically think, okay, so organizing information? And what is what it actually tangibly looks like? Yeah.
Rick: All right. So let’s take an electrical contractor, which, again, could be any type of company. But one of the challenges they have, among many is, how do we do reviews for our employees, you know, we have these reviews, they’re coming up. And they’re doing ad hoc reviews, which means, each employee, each team or team members getting interviewed a little differently. They’re getting different, interviewed differently, for a couple of reasons. One who’s doing the interview, if the foreman is doing the interview, versus the owner? And if there’s five foreman, each foreman kind of does it their own way. And just that of just normal human relationships, you know, what this foreman likes this guy more than another guy, is that impacting the race, the race, and maybe the other guy is more qualified, but he doesn’t have the best attitude. Whereas a guy who has a really great attitude, but he’s not really skilled, or are not doing the best work that he could do, he’s not his skill set isn’t refined as much as the other guy. But he’s getting paid more, he gets a better race, it shouldn’t be that way. You know, life isn’t purely black and white in the sense of making decisions of, of raises, or, you know, in the process of doing reviews, but you should have structure behind it. So they said, well, Rick, can you help us develop this, and I thought, it was just different now that, you know, what I would thought would be the normal scope of some things I would do, but it’s really not, it really is a creative art in part of what we do, not just organizing things. So I realized, you know, they really judge their employees based on four things: field experience, behavior, attendance, which is a big thing in that world. And schooling, I mean, you know, you have field experience, but you need schooling in the electrical trade, I mean, something 8000 hours, and it takes a few years. So we ended up putting together a document that had all four of those areas, and then eventually it made its way over to a Google Sheet. And it could have been a form, but it’s actually a Google Sheet worked out a lot better, because you can build it like a form. And I work with some programmers on a very limited basis, because I know some basic formulas with sheets, but I needed just a little help with the programming side and one of those formulas, and we got it down to a fourth, the four parts where you check boxes, it gives you a total score. And based on that score, there’s a formula that tells you whether they got a one, two or three. So the boxes they’re checking are without getting into too much detail, you know, are they unskilled at the job? Are they skilled at the job, actually, what it doesn’t know, still learning and knows something like that, and they get a one, two or three, and you add up those columns. And at the end of the day, the goal is to determine overall? Are they a one, two or three in that area, and then the second, third area, fourth area, and then you get a total score and the total score, let’s say out of, adds up to 12. And that 12th, depending on whether you got a zero, which they are not going to really get or 12, that really impacts what kind of raise he can get. That’s the quantitative side that we built. Then we built a qualitative side, which was a series of questions that the foreman will answer that the employee also answers. And they have a discussion about that. But those qualitative answers certainly impact their ability to get a raise and what kind of raise they get and whether they advance to the next level. So by putting those things in place, it was so helpful to them because they were so ad hoc. And you talk about, you know, chicken with your head cut off, there were three or four people involved in these reviews, and what are they going to happen and how do we do them? So I was not the wind part. But how do we do these effectively? How do we keep it simple? How do we get it down? Basically funnel it down to an answer. And that’s what I helped them to do. And that made a really significant difference for them. And now, I’ve got to build up and build like 24 of these. We’ve got four for apprentices. We got four for electricians for the foreman, and there’s commercial versus residential. So we got the tip, I got the templates and that was very easy to build out the other so now they can have interviews and get them done quickly and effectively. So that’s been a really good game changer. And that’s just one thing that I’m doing for them to try to make a difference.
Josh: So, in a company, how do you decide where to go first? Because I’m somebody in that kind of business, there’s 100 different directions you can go first, like, why did you decide to work on that part of the business?
Rick: You know, I think a lot of it goes back to just the fundamentals of selling. And even more than that, it’s just the fundamentals of human relationships. It just starts with asking, now the guy used to work with me. I remember him telling me his brother used to yell at him. I think his whole family yelled at him, because all I did was ask questions. And there’s a balance between asking questions and providing feedback. But you know, because at some point, the client says, okay, you’re asking all these questions like, what’s your recommendation, but it really comes down to asking effective questions. And once you ask enough questions, you ultimately figure out what the greatest concern is, and literally ask that question, what’s the greatest concern that you have? But there’s an art to that, you know, most people, and that’s not saying that they do it intentionally. But most people don’t really tell you what’s really wrong the first time you ask, and sometimes that’s the way the questions are asked sometimes that ‘s what’s on their mind at the time. But if you keep drilling, and asking questions coming from different angles, and you truly, you really try hard to understand where they’re coming from, you get to the core of what’s really bothering them. And then at that point, you say, how much does that bother you? And does that bother you enough to do something about it today? So it’s one thing to say it’s a problem, it’s another whole other thing to know whether or not they really care enough to do something about it. And it’s a whole other thing to know whether they care about whether to do something about it now? And if they’re really committed to it? And once they say yes, then I say, alright, fine. This is what I can do to help you. And after that, it’s a question of, you know, if they like what they heard, well, when do we start? And what do you charge? So that’s kind of how I approach it.
Josh: So for those people listening, because a lot of small business owners who watch this who are interested in getting their company organized, who is an ideal client that’s ripe for this that actually could get a lot of value out of working with you or someone like you who wants to get their business more efficient? And is there a type of person who just they’re not ready yet that they shouldn’t think about this kind of help?
Rick: It’s almost too easy, Josh, in a way, any person listening who says to themselves, do I feel completely organized in my company? Or not? Am I, do I feel like my company’s really efficient, if not super-efficient, because my job isn’t just to make a company efficient to make them super-efficient. Everybody has processes in place, whether they know it or not. So I’m not bringing processes and procedures or even systems to accompany. I’m just taking the ones you have and making them a whole lot better. Make that, make sure they make sense, and that they work with each other effectively and efficiently. So if you ask yourself the question, you know, am I really organized and efficient? If you’re not, then the next question is, do I’m in a position where I really, I really should do something about it now. And you have to take your eyes off yourself, in the sense that, you know, how is what I’m doing now, impacting my employees, and the relationships that my employees have with me, relationship my boys have with each other, relationships my employees have with the customer. You know, if their worlds are chaotic, they’re maybe not in the best position to give their very best to you, give their very best to your clients. And obviously, you know, that’s going to impact the bottom line. Certainly, if you’re thinking of selling the company, no question about it, you better make sure you are absolutely 100% efficient, as much as you can, because it will impact the check you get. So in that sense, you know, if you’re going to sell, I would say, a couple years down the road, you’re thinking about it, you know, you should start now because it’s going to take you a good year to two years to really get things efficient. Now, that doesn’t mean I can’t be effective for somebody in three to six months. But I mean, in terms of depending upon where you’re at, depending upon how challenging things are, how chaotic they are, what you have in place currently, you know, that’ll really determine what’s needed and how much you need to do. Also, you know, what kind of people do you have on staff? What’s their capability? How much of it do I need to do? In some cases, I’m writing procedures for people and other cases, I’m guiding them on how to write. So that’s more into the weeds to your question, Josh. But I mean, those questions are the basic questions. You should be asking yourself.
Josh: Yeah, and ultimately, any company that wants to, I hate this phraseology, and I’ll go to the next level, I mean, the company actually does want to move beyond their status quo, has to invest in their infrastructure. And this is one of those things, which is organizing their systems if they’re not willing to do that. And most owners are not very good at doing it, nor should they do it. They’re gonna stay stuck.
Rick: Yeah. And I guess one of the things, Josh, I mean, ask yourself as a business owner, am I working in my business? Or am I working on it? How do I feel about that? And if you want to change that ratio, then you gotta put in systems because systems are the sole answer, where to improve your systems and processes, that is the sole answer. And solution to that problem, you want to work more on your business, which business owner should if you want to grow it, you want to scale it, you want to work less in it, you want to enjoy more time with family, or you just want to work more, there’s nothing wrong, it’s not about working less, it’s about working on the things that you want to be working on. As a business owner. A lot of times, you know, people sell the concept of, you know, do the following in order to, you know, get more freedom in your life and work less and spend more time on the beach, you know, God made us to work. The question is, are you doing what he made you do? Are you focusing your time and energy on the things that allow you to be productive and get enjoyment out of life? So it’s not about working less and less, that’s a choice, it’s something you want to do. But a lot of business owners are putting out a lot of fires, when they could be in should be being more effective on the things that they’re talented at, and get away from the things that they’re not putting effective and efficient systems in place. We’ll resolve that.
Josh: Well said, we’ll record because of time, I want to get to these last couple of questions. So you people can find out where you are. So the one I’d like to leave everyone with and this might be a surprise question to you is, what’s the question that I didn’t ask you, but I should have asked you during this interview?
Rick: I don’t know what we talked about getting in this line of work. And I guess, let me think about it. You know, maybe a quick question is why don’t business owners do the obvious? Okay,
Josh: You know, question and, the obvious is, from day one, you should be working on your business and getting efficient because it’s the reason why big companies are chaotic, but there is a good reason for it. You know, it’s in some respect, it’s taking pressure off the business owner. On the other hand, it’s also a, you know, kind of a come to Jesus, it’s time to do things differently. When you start off in your company, it’s just usually just you. So you are the jack of all trades, you are doing everything. And so how do you take the time to grow your business. And at the same time over here work, do a procedure for each thing that you do. Don’t ever probably tell you to do that in the first place. And it’s a very rare person that maybe came across business systems less than maybe some of their schooling. Like in Greg Greg’s case, it was schooling. So he got a really good head start in his company, because that was his background and schooling part of the millet in the military. He was also doing systems analysis. And systems engineer, I think, is one of the things that he was schooling. So, but a lot of companies and a lot of business owners, you know, by default, they’re just busy. And they end up chaotic because of how they started off being doing everything wearing all the hats. Wherever you are at this stage, it’s really a question of, are you willing to stop? Are you wanting to take time to stop and take stock of where you’re at and get the help that you need to get organized? And I think from if you’re willing to do that, then you can make a really positive difference in your company, in your life and in your employees’ lives.
Josh: Well said, Alright, oh, Rick, where can people find you? If they want help with their business? Where are you online?
Rick: Right now I profile on LinkedIn. I told you this. And I’ll just tell everybody else that I don’t have a website yet. When I started off doing this about a year and a half ago, formally, I’ve been so busy since I have not had a chance to really put a website in place, which I’ll do what you can find my profile LinkedIn. Just if you’ve put Rick Bertino on LinkedIn, you’ll see my information there. And you’ll see Gears Business Solutions. If somebody wants to email me directly, it’s [email protected] G-E-A-R-S-B-I-Z [email protected]. And that’s probably the best way to get a hold of me directly.
Josh: Yeah, and I love that about value, Rick is that you prove the point that you don’t need to have a massive funnel, social media following, you know, all this stuff built out as a consultant to be really good at it, which you are. And to get a lot of clients, which you have, you just need to be out there talking to people and helping them with where they’re at. And that’s really it. That’s kind of where we started Work the System as well. And so people who think you’d have a massive marketing plan to get good clients is just not true. Also, Rick can be found on our website, Work the System. He’s one of the certified business systems professionals. And so you can read his bio there as well or LinkedIn. And you’re listening to this right now and looking for help. Certainly, he has my endorsement. All right, Rick. Well, thank you for making the time this Friday afternoon. And when I say thanks, everybody who’s watching this and listening or here with us live on Facebook, catch us next week, we try to do a recording every Friday. And you can watch us live. Otherwise, if you want a copy of that book right there behind me Work the System. And we mail out a copy hardcopy once a week to anyone who leaves us a review and we pull one name out of a hat. And so if you want to do that, you can leave us a review anywhere and then take a screenshot of that review and email it to info at wtsenterprises.com and then again, we’ll mail out one book a week. Also. If you want a digital download again, work the system dot com. And we will see you all next week.