Have you ever wondered what makes a business like McDonalds or Burger King so incredibly successful?

It’s not that they make the most gourmet burgers in town.

And in many cases it’s not even that they are the cheapest.

No, the key is consistency. When you walk in to a McDonalds, anywhere in the country, you know exactly what to expect. Have you ever walked out of a McDonalds saying “wow… that was the best Big Mac I ever had”? More likely, you walked out saying something like “that was exactly what I needed.”

As a business owner, you know that achieving this level of consistency is remarkably difficult. And yet, McDonalds and other fast food joints pull it off and they do so without paying much more than minimum wage to their employees.

How do they do it? One word: systems. Ask anyone who has worked in a fast food restaurant, and they’ll tell you that everything is systemized. From the length of time the French fries are cooked to the process by which a new employee is hired, nothing is left up to chance—and very little is left up to the judgment of a frontline employee.

As a result, McDonalds can open a restaurant anywhere in the country and immediately offer the menu options that customers expect.

You may not have plans to franchise your business or even to open another location. But you should still run your business like a franchise. Why? Because systemizing every operation ensures that you deliver consistent products and services to your customers.

Systemization means that you don’t have to rely on exceptional employees, you can instead teach your system to capable employees who must simply execute it. And systemization means that you can enjoy the freedom that comes from not having to do everything by yourself.

How many of you could take a 4-week vacation right now without impacting your business?

Systemizing your business means that, once your team is fully staffed, the business will run just fine without you. It doesn’t mean that you have to stop coming to work every day, but it means that you could if you wanted to.

Whether you hope to turn your business into a nationally recognized brand with hundreds of locations or not, running your business like a franchise ensures that your customers will consistently receive the products and services they expect. And it means that you won’t have to work yourself into the ground to deliver them.