Every single entrepreneur—whatever the size of their business—runs into bottlenecks. 

Bottlenecks are a point of congestion within your systems. And if you’re saying they don’t happen to you, just wait. It’ll happen. 

A lot of people associate bottlenecks with manufacturing, but they can also affect service businesses. So, this is 100% relevant to what we’re doing as real estate professionals. 

What every bottleneck ends up doing is cutting off the flow of your business’s lifeblood. And it can lead to things like— 

  • Unhappy customers
  • Dissatisfied workers
  • Poor results
  • Loss of business

There are so many things that can happen. Because if you can’t increase capacity, and you’re trying to grow, you’re going to have the same result over and over and over again. 

Step One: Identify the bottleneck

How do you identify bottlenecks? That’s the first step because if you’re seeing these issues, just taking mindless action can make things even worse. You’ll save yourself and your team a lot of trouble by taking the time to figure out exactly what’s happening. 

What needs to happen is a root cause analysis. If you’re not tracking and measuring your business—looking at your systems and understanding how your workflow goes, identifying whether it’s an internal or external issue, and then collecting data to understand what the actual results are—you’re more likely to take mindless action that gets you nowhere. 

You have to diagnose things before you start treating them. And it all comes down to tracking and measuring. So, if you’re not doing that, you’re not going to be able to identify where the bottleneck is. 

For example, let’s say you can’t handle any more clients in your business. Or you can’t handle any more team members in your business. Or you can’t train people effectively. There are a number of things that can lead to a bottleneck. 

Step Two: Map and analyze your process flow

Once you identify what the bottleneck is and how to identify it, you can also map and analyze your process flow. You can look at the issues that bottlenecks tend to create, interview staff, and interview clients. 

Then, how do you tackle them?

  • Improving systems
  • Automating workflows
  • Delegating tasks to people who have the bandwidth to handle them

The classic example is the real estate agent who tries to work with too many clients. If you delegate or refer that out, those clients will get better service. 

Step Three: Identify and implement a solution

So, when you look at your different processes, you might have to replace people in your organization because they don’t want to be honest with you about the tracking and measuring that’s going on. 

If you’re not identifying these problems first, you can’t fix them. And there will be a lot of different solutions to solve these bottlenecks. The point is, they’re going to happen. 

Capacity issues are rampant, especially in the kind of market that we’re in where we’re dealing with fewer homes to sell. You’ve got to service all these folks, and you might have to change your processes. And that’s part of identifying and fixing a bottleneck. 

Congratulations—You’re having a bottleneck!

So, here’s the best way to look at this: Congratulations if you’re having a bottleneck! Because that means you’re growing. 

The last tactic I want to share is the Six Sigma Technique:

  • Define
  • Measure
  • Analyze
  • Improve 
  • Control

So, you define the bottleneck, you measure what that is, analyze it, then come up with solutions to improve it and control it, and inspect it as you go. 

That’s how you make your processes better. Folks who don’t want to improve their processes, don’t want to take the time to get better, aren’t going to be able to fix a bottleneck because unless they’re driven to improve, they won’t see value in tracking and measuring. If you’re reading this, I’m betting that growth is important to you. 

And with growth come growing pains. 

Remember, what got you here isn’t going to get you to the next step. It’s important to lean into these things, understand bottlenecks are going to happen, and ultimately come up with processes to make them better and increase capacity to remove congestion.