Checklists For Business

Before any plane takes off, whether it’s a two seater Piper Cub or a 400 passenger Jumbo Jet, the pilot goes through a pre-flight check list to make sure everything is working and in place for a safe flight.

Because the consequences of forgetting even one thing, like a full tank of fuel are so catastrophic, the pilot has a written list which is ticked off item by item.

A “check list”!

As a management tool check lists seem to have been forgotten in the complications of psychology, participatory management, staff motivation and the array of electronic devices that make us apparently more efficient. I think it is time check lists made a comeback!

I was discussing the value of check lists with a client this week and remembered a story from my past that illustrated the point.

Many, many years ago I had a lady friend who was a hairdresser who relied on monthly visits of two representatives from competing companies for professional hairdressing supplies.

The first rep was a handsome young man who got on well with the girls in the salon and had the brand of products they preferred. When he visited he would ask what they wanted, write out his order and the items would be delivered the next week or so.

The second representative was not actually liked and the products were not their first preference. So when he visited a few days after the first rep he was toldthat that the order had already been placed. That didn’t faze him; he simply suggested that he go through his check list with them so that they did not run out of anything before the next visit. Sure enough there were plenty of products that they had forgotten about and these went onto rep number two’s order sheet. Result…… Rep number two got a bigger order than rep one almost every month, because of the service he provided with his check list.

Check lists in your business

It is worth investing some of your time working out just where you could use check lists in your business and how you could build them into the systems you have now.

Give much thought to what should be included on your check list, so that once you have completed it, you don’t have to remember anything, just follow the list. You don’t have to be stuck with a paper list when the same one can appear on your computer screen in appropriate circumstances.

Sales check-lists

The most obvious application of check lists is to sales where a reminder by the order taker / representative, about other or related products is welcomed by customers. A check list in front of the salesperson, with items that customers usually buy, will get additional sales from a big percentage of customers. Often those customers are not aware that you provide a particular product or service.

They may, like I have done, kick themselves for forgetting to buy something obviously needed with the purchase.

When a salesperson suggests the additional items I am very grateful.

Marketing & Promotion check lists

You should have a check list of things to do when you run a new advertisement or special offer. Aside from having stock etc, what about advising representatives, the management team, staff members and last but most important, the person answering the phone?

What about a new customer checklist?

Have they been offered all your products and are the correct contact etails in your database? I quite often find that many of my client’s customers are simply not aware of the full range of productsor services offered, because no one has told them. As business owners and managers you can improve sales and cross selling by putting check-list reminders in front of your sales staff and getting them to use them…. every time they meet a customer.

Website –

Product range information

Does your website provide an overview and a check list of all product types or services on the front page so that visitors can see for themselves the range you offer? When you are surfing the net for a particular product or service it’s good to know you have arrived at the right spot and also useful to be exposed to related products at the same time.

Customer’s check lists

With some thought you can develop a check-list for your current customers to see for themselves whether they are getting everything you have available for them to buy. Instead of a list of products and services you should provide it in “benefit” form and request a response from the customer for more information. Simply send it out with your next email promotional letter and e-newsletter.

For example:

Click in the box and we will contact you with the information you want.

Would you like…..

[ ] 44% increase in productivity with our XYZ software program?

[ ] 24% increase in average sales using our cross selling check list?

[ ] etc, etc.

Managment / Supervisory check lists

Check lists can help you to manage staff member tasks and to get them to take responsibility.

It is easy to devise a weekly check list that combines tasks that have to be done daily, weekly, fortnightly and monthly. Produce four weekly check lists for weeks one to four, with daily tasks in five columns; spread each monthly task through the four weeks and fortnightly tasks in two of the four weeks. In that way you cover the entire job with one weekly follow up meeting or phone call.

It is even better if you can get the staff member concerned to do their own check list in the first place, once you have explained the rules.

I introduced this system in a department I was managing where I had several supervisors reporting to me. Investing the effort of working with the supervisors to prepare the check lists paid off by allowing them to focus on completing one week’s tasks at a time, knowing that all tasks were then done for the month.

If some tasks were not completed during the week, then as a manager I was aware of the situation and could arrange for overtime or additional help to stay on schedule. Check lists like that make the management job easy.

Production / Service check lists

The easiest way to ensure your business maintains consistent high standards of production or service delivery is check lists. Set your required standards in advance and create a check-list to show you have achieved them and monitor the results. Correct any problems that occur and you end up with a consistent quality product or service guaranteed.

Product satisfaction / Delivery check list

It is important to know whether your product or service was up to your customer’s expectations in all respects! So why not ask them!

You can do it by getting THEM to complete a check list and sending it back to you.

You can cover everything from quality of service / product; correct quantity delivered; time taken; friendliness of staff; overall satisfaction, etc, out of ten.

In that way, you as a manager will quickly know about any problems with customer dissatisfaction and be able to correct them before you start losing customers as a result.

Generally customers are happy to provide feedback, particularly if they receive some small reward in return. Happy customers give your business consistent sales and profits!


Essentail Management tool

I am a fan of “check lists” and the ideas mentioned already are just some of the hundreds of ways you can use them to manage your business, staff, sales and marketing professionally and easily with minimum stress.


To finish I thought I’d provide a “check list” of the “check lists” in this article for you to check out for yourself.

I guarantee you will find using “checklists” the best practical management tool you have ever discovered.