by:  Frank Sahlein

It’s YOUR Business – drive it to where YOU want it to go!

     Running a Business is like driving the “INDY 500”

YOU are the DRIVER! Is your Vehicle ready to GO?

Here are the 8 components of a succcessful Business System

1)   Strategic Management System

2)   Marketing Management System

3)   People Management System

4)   Information Management System

5)   Financial Management System

6)   Facilities Management System

7)   Risk Management System

8)   Inspiration System      … and – they all work together!

The “secret” is the “layered synchronization” of these systems!

As with a RACING CAR, you need ALL of the parts performing at peak levels if you want to win! It is the same for us in the business marketplace – ALL SYSTEMS must be operating at top levels!

MANAGEMENT (Administrative) SYSTEMS – the STEERING WHEEL, if you will. It doesn’t matter WHAT type of car you have if there is no direction provided by a steering wheel! This is the philosophical & organizational foundation of the business.

MARKETING MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS – This area must ABSOLUTELY be addressed COMPLETELY BEFORE tackling the People Systems! This is the ENGINE that converts philosophies into CUSTOMERS! It is the PROCESS and POWER that will drive the organization directly and with purpose towards it’s goals! All other Systems will be FAR less effective without thinking this through first!

PEOPLE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS – The MOST COMMON COMPLAINT among all Small Business Owners is “it is so hard to find GOOD PEOPLE” … when the truth is that GREAT COMPANIES set up the critical SYSTEMS within their companies so that ORDINARY PEOPLE can acheive EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS!!! This is the PIT CREW that will take your company to the next levels!

INFORMATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS – TRACKING & FLOW – Company Data Files & Customer Database (CRM). These, taken together, are the TRANSMISSION. If you do not have hyper-organized Company Data files, your business will be constantly re-inventing the wheel! Web-based databases are the wave of the NOW for many reasons!

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS – CASH FLOW, and its’ MANAGEMENT, is the OIL that keeps all of the parts of the business (car) running smoothly. You MUST have the ability to PINPOINT POTENTIAL GROWTH AREAS AS WELL AS PROBLEM AREAS EASILY! This is entirely possible through the correct set up of Quickbooks Pro – if you do not have specific, timely, accurate Financial Reports on both the Company as a whole as well as on EACH PROGRAM UNIT, you are essentially just GUESSING as to how your business units are doing! Does this sound like a business with a GPS?

FACILITIES MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS – Think of this as the Structural CHASSIS of the business. Efficient use of facilities is REQUIRED to maximize your ROI (Return on Investment) & ROA (Return on Assets). A Facility Management System drills this down from the entire building to each and every teaching or learning station.

RISK MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS – The TIRES – the 4 tires that support the Risk Management System are:


Taken together, these 4 factors allow us to sleep at night knowing that we are operating at the very TOP of Industry Standards, and have done everything that we knew of to protect our customers (children & parents), our staff, our business and ourselves!

INSPIRATION SYSTEMS – The FUEL – your “Inspiration Fuel” is high octane if your people provide the “3 E’s”

Energy + Enthusiasm = Electricity!

throughout your operations!

A critical common thread throughout the systems is the ORGANIZATION OF PROGRAMS & PEOPLE. As you flesh out the details of each System Component, and apply them to YOUR operation, you will see more efficient and effective use of people, time and resources take place.


FREE Business Tip Tuesday – Why we need Business GPS Systems.

 excerpt from Frank Sahlein’s Business Systems Success Analogies

Did you know that businesses that are truly systematized may be worth up to TWICE as much as businesses that are not?

Do you want a completely organized business, more key staff involvement, and more free time? You can have it! But what normally happens in small businesses?


Imagine yourself in a vast ocean, in a small rowboat, with no land in sight. You have a small paddle, and you start paddling, but you have no idea where you are really paddling TO, because you cannot see any land masses.

This is EXACTLY what most Small Businesses do … they are doing LOTS OF PADDLING (handling the million details), but often without any set direction.

3rd Level Consulting can be your GPS

What we need is a Business Global Positioning System (GPS)!  Go to for more information and to sign up for a FREE Trial Month!

FREE Business Tip Tuesday. Quick Cost-Cutting Ideas!

Greetings friends. I am excited to launch 3rd Level Consulting’s  FREE Business Tip Tuesday.

This week’ tip is regarding quick cost-cuttting ideas. Which of the twelve tips do you think will save you the most money?

  1. Renegotiate or restructure your Lease or Mortgage Loan Terms.
  2. Consolidate, renegotiate or restructure any Business Loans.
  3. Renegotiate or tighten labor/payroll costs. Consider variable income or profit-sharing or bonus plans.
  4. Re-evaluate every expense and see if it is something you can get by without.
  5. Compare and shop all of your Suppliers costs annually. Look at every single expense you have and renegotiate if possible to either lower the price you are paying or the scope of the service you are getting.
  6. Shop & compare all INSURANCE premiums.
  7. Compare and shop your Credit Card processing rates annually.
  8. Have your Power Utility Company conduct an (usually free) Energy Audit to find ways to save on your current and future power consumption bills.
  9. Audit payroll for administrative time ratios for Director/Management staff.
  10. Audit payroll for instructor/teaching and coaching time i.e. prep time before and after actual class and/or team training time.
  11. Use Pre-Paid Legal services…
  12. Have a full BUSINESS EFFICIENCY & PROFITABILITY ASSESSMENT performed on your business, or at the very least, immediately join the 3rd Level Consulting TOTAL ACCESS program, featuring (among other items) the industry’s #1 online BEST PRACTICES LIBRARY. Sign up now at

Gold Medalist 2004 Olympian Kyle Shewfelt: Inspirational Speech on How to Succeed.

The Olympic Champion on Floor Exercise in 2004 recently was in Coeur d’Alene as a guest Olympian to give inspirational talks to the gymnasts competing at The Great West GymFest.  He was able to come and talk to our local Rotary Group.  He spoke to 200 Rotarians, local businessmen and women the leaders and influencers in our community.  Kyle’s speech was so well received that he was asked if he would share his notes.  He sent them to me, Barbara Anne Elliott, and here they are!

3rd Level Consulting

Journey with 3rd Level on Facebook

1. Be unique. Be original. Be innovative. Be courageous enough to stand out. The world needs more individuals and less robots. Add your own individual flair and finesse to everything you do. Push the limits and the boundaries – see how far you can stretch them.

2. Focus on the details. Every top athlete in the world is finitely focused on the details. It’s about the way you land, the way you catch your release skill with your legs glued together, etc. These are what make the biggest difference. The pointed toes, the straight knees…all of this translates into life beyond gymnastics and sport. Those who place an importance on the details are the one’s who rise to the top. Perfection is when you take 100% effort and make it look effortless.

3. Do the hard stuff, even when you don’t feel like it. Ask any person who’s achieved success and they’ll tell you this: they’ve faced that moment where that little voice inside their head screams “I don’t wanna do it today!!!!”. This usually happens when you’re tired, sore and feeling overwhelmed by the number of arrows being shot your way, demanding your time and energy. Those who reach excellence have had to force themselves, with all their might, to take the initiative and start. They make the decision to push past the voice that says, “Put it off until tomorrow” and that is what makes all the difference. It’s about testing yourself to see what your capacity is. A quick tip: the things you want to procrastinate and put off NEVER get easier ‘tomorrow’. It’s simply fear that is trying to control you. That negative voice inside your mind is of the one of comfort and protection. It wants to keep you safe and it hates change. The more you feed the good wolf, the more powerful it gets.

4. Set daily goals and measure your progress. Do not enter the gym or your place of work without a reason to be there. Create an intention and work your hardest to make it happen. Setting goals and writing them down is critical because measuring your efforts allows you to stay motivated and on track. What happens when someone wants to lose a lot of weight, but they don’t take the time to do weekly measurements and reflection? They usually fail. Measuring the loss of inches and pounds is motivating because you see that the hard work is creating results. Our goals are the driving force behind our daily actions. If we don’t have a goal then there is no purpose behind what we are doing and we will quickly fall victim to outer influences. We humans seek and crave purpose – a place to be, a group to be a part of, something to work towards and a meaningful existence – and this purpose helps us focus on the days when it’s hard and we don’t feel like doing it.
You also need to have really audacious long term goals – a BIG vision of what’s possible?

5. Obsession – You’ve got to be a little bit crazy Read about your dream, visualize your dream, research your dream and people who have done it before you. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and people who are chasing the same thing. Make it your bubble and be single minded in your approach. Obsession isn’t always a bad thing – it can really help you stay motivated and inspired.

6. Define success on your terms. John Wooden once said, “success is piece of mind, that sense of self-satisfaction, you get when you know you did the best you could to be the best you are capable of becoming”. We often think that we’ve failed if we haven’t won first place, but that isn’t the truth at all. Success is when we meet our personal potential and we know it.

7. Be professional – act like you are a champion and you become a champion. In your mind, what types of things do champions do? Eating right. Sleeping well. Showing up with a plan. Pushing themselves to max capacity. Treating their teammates, coaches and colleagues with respect, ect. Now, take all of those things and apply them to your life and what do you get? That’s right, A Champion!

Realize as well that you’re a role model. Your life is bigger than just YOU living it – there are people who look up to you and who admire you for your strength, courage and dedication and you have the responsibility to set a good example for them.

8. Consistency – Lasting success is not a flash in a pan. There is no quick way to the top. To guarantee success, you have to show up every day with a consistent work ethic and attitude. Eventually, it will happen.

Oh ya, and B.R.E.A.T.H.E!

Please let everyone know that they are free to be in touch if they need anything further



3rd Level Consulting’s Guide to Social Media for Marketing Basics

3rd Level Consulting is excited to present our first Video Blogs.  We produced two videos about Social Media for Marketing Basics.  The short and sweet version is our Social Media Summary under 3 minutes and/or if you want more details you can watch the 13 minute Marketing Basics version.  Please note these videos are a basic introduction to Social Media for Marketing.  Keep a look out for Social Media for Marketing 101 and Mastering Social Media for MarketSmart coming soon…

Above video is the 3 minute summary …  Below video is the 13 minute presentation.

Basics Summary:  Yes, you absolutely can and should use the internet for marketing your business.  Step One is knowing what you want your potential customer to do.  Step Two is understanding what your online strategy is to attract that customer…. send them to where you want them to go… and make it clear what you want them to do once they get there.  OFF THE COMPUTER INTO YOUR FACILITY 🙂

For most of us our main website is where we want to drive (or pull) our customers to.  Using Blogs and/or Social Media can be beneficial to attract prospects but they do take time to set up and maintain.  My suggestion is to start with ONE new Social Media or begin a weekly Blog.  Regardless of the platform you choose make sure you are using great Keyword phrases in your content AND make sure you are LINKING to your main website.

Want to dive in deeper?  3rd Level Consulting has On-Demand Consulting available for Marketing Education 101 and Advanced Market Planning

Click on the On-Demand Button for more information about On-Demand Consulting or Click on 3rd Level Consulting’s logo to go to the main page on our website.

Barbara Anne Elliott

Executive Administrator

I would love your feedback and comments about 3rd Level Consulting’s first Video Blogs. 

Thanks for your interest – Barbara Anne

How To Keep Your Business Afloat in Any Economy – Part 2

HUMAN RESOURCE considerations
Evaluate Employee’s Positions

What are the potentials for increased responsibilities for current Staff? Many clubs compensate on a full-time basis for a part-time job!
The change to a system that has more VARIABLE INCOME is the answer to controlling payroll costs and motivating people to perform well, in their own self-interest.
Is there potential for elimination or consolidation of particular positions? Is there a continuing need for (possibly overpaid) family members?
Continuity of Management and Key Employees
If you use Employment Contracts, bring them up to date. If there are no Employment Contracts in your business, then be sure that you are conducting a minimum of annual comprehensive performance reviews. Actually, the
best reviews are ones that are continual. Involve Key Staff or Program Leaders in strategic planning for their Department, and possibly for entire company.
Be sure that the “4 Bridges to Compensation Success” are in place – Training, Control, Tools, Financial Info (and relational Profit-Sharing).
Professional Development
According to the Harvard Business Review, the unconventional wisdom is that any economic downturns or downtime is the BEST time to enhance skills. This will keep your people sharp, and make your organization THE ONE that will be most ready when busier times return.
Evaluate Office and Computer Equipment
How efficient, productive and cost-effective is your software and hardware? Will you see increases in staff productivity and customer service by upgrading? An operation that has up-to-date hardware and software is a more nimble corporation now AND when times improve. Specific improvement lists are available from 3rd Level Consulting.
Operations Manuals for all phases of Business
A top-notch business in our industry has two types of operating manuals – Activity Programs manuals and Business Operations manuals. Operations Manuals are the documented “meeting ground” for Owners and
Program Directors, and help set continuously-improving standards for the company. Get professional industry consulting assistance if you do not have the time to document this … if it is not written down, it will not get done!
FINANCIAL considerations
Examine Operating Percentages and Cash Flow
Your first goal is to bring your Operating Ratios into line with Industry best practices. Your total Payroll & Payroll Taxes, including benefits and Owner Compensation, should not be above 50%. In our nationwide consulting work, we have documented that payroll varies widely between small, medium and large operations, and between industries (gymnastics, swimming, dance, cheerleading, martial arts, others). However, in almost all cases, payroll is the number one expense, so reexamine this on an ongoing basis.
Speaking of Payroll, do not fall behind on IRS or State Tax payments of any type. These are among the hardest categories to recover from, and when you factor in penalties, interest and STRESS, it is not worth it. Negotiate in other areas if necessary, but not in this one.
Your percentages for marketing, utilities, mortgage or rent, insurance and professional development will also vary by gross revenue size and/or industry, but be sure that you have enough profit margin to survive normal and “economic crisis” conditions.
Save for a rainy day economy! If you have no reserve fund, you may run into serious trouble. Start one instantly, no matter how! Every dollar you save TODAY might be the margin of survival TOMORROW.
Business Inventories
Keep a complete list and values (Original Cost, Fair Market Value, and Depreciated Value) for all Equipment. Keep a complete list and values for all current inventories (Pro Shop, Concessions, and Supplies). Sell off very old, unused or stored equipment that give poor image or is not needed any longer.
You can ask for savings based on an annual bid (as opposed to a per event basis) for the purchase of T-shirts, color printing, party supplies or equipment. A 5% discount on all supplies could add up to thousands of dollars on an annual basis.
Financial Reports
Get your Financial Reports structured to get proper Cash Flow statements by Department as well as Companywide. This will give you the business intelligence you must have to make the right decisions. Have your Financial Statements reviewed by a CPA and an Industry Expert every year.
Collect all Aged Accounts Receivable. No ifs, ands or buts. Just do it!
Make a list of everything you could do right now to CUT COSTS and PRODUCE MORE
Understand that to truly make money, you must have the “triple overlap” in play – profitable Income Statement, sufficient Cash Flow, and positive Return on Investment (ROI) … all at the same time!
Investigate the potential restructuring of Leases, Mortgages and other Business Contracts
BEFORE you need to.
Check and examine carefully all of your lease, mortgage and other business contracts this week. You may have options to renegotiate that you were not even aware of. We had one client who was able to release themselves from a MAJOR personal guarantee on a sizeable lease because the first five year period had elapsed!
Bankers and Landlords WANT you to stay in place and continue to pay them. Generally, if they need to cut you some short term slack, they WILL do it.
Operating cost savings and/or revenue increases can be achieved through increased Programming (utilizing intelligent flex-spacing) and additional Space Rental revenues.

Another savings technique is to keep your equipment up to date and in good repair. It lasts
RISK MANAGEMENT considerations
Settle all outstanding Lawsuits, tax liens, etc. Settle any employee disputes, loans or other corporate baggage. Resolve all Partnership and/or Shareholder disputes.
Check Insurance Coverages
Be sure that ALL of your insurance coverages are up to date and that you have adequate coverage. These include Liability, Accident/Medical, Premises, Business Interruption, Equipment, Vehicle coverage’s, and Health & Benefits for Employees. This is no time to be stuck with inadequate coverage if something happens.
Travel, Lodging, Meals and Entertainment expenses
Eliminate all Travel, Lodging, Meals & Entertainment expenses that do not boost or help maintain your company’s usual level of sales. If you offer traveling training clinics for Staff, have clear reasons for them to attend and PLAN for a Return On Investment (ROI) by having them report and track the effect of any improvements to their program. Keep this ROI mentality in all instances.
If you think that times are tough for YOU as a business owner, imagine how your staff feels! They feel like they have even less control than you do. Leaders show their true colors in tough times, so this is the perfect opportunity to set a GREAT example!
Continue to develop your staff by sharing Motivational, Success, Goal Setting and Change
formulas. The morale of your entire company will be higher than that of your competition, and you will generate an invisible edge!
Ready to really implement a business improvement action plan for this year?
Explore the web site and get a free 15 minute consultation.