Most business owners at some point in time either decide to grow the business or maybe they just happen to naturally find the business growing. Often the biggest problem for these business owners is being to involved in the day to day running and operation of the business and not being able to take time away from the business without the business suffering because of the time away.
One thing that can really help move a business away from a full reliance on the owner is creating a range of procedures that can be written down, in an easy to follow method. Then taught to employee’s as they are hired. Pretty much a procedure should be created for any task is repetitive and could be performed by someone other then then owner.
While a task like writing out cheques to pay suppliers is something that the owner may need to do, something else like taking a customers order, or packing boxes for shipments is something that could easily have a procedure created that any employee could follow. This is not to say that the owner of the business should not at times do these tasks either to help out or to keep their presence in the business, it is more to say that they are thing’s that if you hire employees it is to do these things, not watch you do them.
WHY HAVE PROCEDURES
While you may think that it is enough that you can teach an employee each time you get a new employee or show them when needed. It does not hurt to have things written down in set orders, so as for all employee’s to be able to easily check up again on just what they need to do. It also means that you do not always have to go over everything in as much detail, you can give a brief overview and have them then follow the procedure for as long as needed to get the task down. Additionally for those that don’t always learn well by listening, and often take notes, they will have notes all ready for them in the wording that you want them to remember it in.
WHAT SHOULD THE PROCEDURE BE LIKE
Basically the procedure should be written to a level that anyone can understand it by reading it. This often does not mean that it needs to be overly simplistic, but at the same time the level of comprehension of someone first reading it needs to be taken into account. You may need to include some definitions if there is some terms that are not commonly used or industry specific, or maybe you can bring it down to an easy level of understanding without using industry terminology.
You also need to take into account the task and what you believe is sufficient information for the particular task. For example a procedure on how to answer the telephone, may only be a half page script. Which is pretty self explanatory. While you may need to also create or acquire a slightly more detailed set of instructions on how to use the phone system to transfer, place calls on hold etc. In contrast the procedure for how to create a product if you manufacture a product, may be much more detailed and need many pages detailing how to do different steps, and what level of quality is expected.
The time that is spent in creating procedures should be seen as an investment in the future potential of your business. Do you think that many of the fanchised stores around the world could exist in their current forms if they had not initially created a comprehensive and easy to follow procedures manual. I doubt it, the consistency of how they generally operate is testament to the fact that procedures work and can be applied to create a business that is easily duplicatable.