Why small businesses need a standard operating procedure
When you run a small business, it’s easy to take a day-to-day approach. But this can result in a chaotic business, one that simply leaps from one problem to another. A standard operating procedure, can help reduce problems & enhance overall efficiency.
What do we Mean by “Standard Operating Procedure”
An operating procedure is simply a step-by-step guide that tells employees how to handle routine tasks and recurring events in your daily operations. It provides an outline for how certain things should be handled and when, and provides a reference tool for employees who may not understand what to do.
The SOP often looks like a numbered, step-by-step guide.
These procedures can be used at many different points throughout your business. You may have a standard operating procedure for bringing on new clients; in this case, it would outline how new customers should be handled by each team member. You may have an inventory procedure, which would tell employees how they should count, order, and stock inventory.
An SOP can be used in virtually any situation or setting, and they can include how to maintain equipment, clean the facility, create employee accounts within the system, and more. Most businesses also have an SOP for emergency situations, such as a fire or natural disaster.
Why is a Standard Operating Procedure so Important?
Putting together a high-quality standard operating procedure takes time, thought, and energy. So why is it so important? Because in the end, it can create a more efficient business with happy, productive employees.
Helps Keep the Business Organized
One of the top benefits for a standard operating procedure is that it helps keep the business organized. The SOP is a roadmap, telling employees what to do, how to do it, and when. This can create better organization from top to bottom, as people know their roles and understand what specific tasks are expected of them.
Onboarding Employees is Much Faster
Taking an employee from new recruit to fully-engaged team member can take time. With a standard operating procedure, however, you can reduce this time. Instead of “winging it” with every new hire, you’ll have a standard procedure that quickly results in employees who know what to do and what is expected of them.
Creates Better, More Confident Employees
Think about times when you were not sure what to do. Think about past jobs where you had little direction and were not sure of the company’s expectations. If you’re like most people, you were likely hesitant to do anything because you didn’t know if it was the right thing to do.
A standard operating procedure, assuming it’s clear and well written, can alleviate this issue and eliminate employee confusion. They will be less frustrated and have a greater confidence in their abilities. They’ll know that what they are doing is the right thing to do.
Makes the Business More Efficient
A good operating procedure makes your business far more efficient. When an employee is unsure about a certain task, they may spend a half hour (or more) trying to figure out what to do. Instead, they can simply look at the standard operating procedure, find their answer, and complete the task. This can reduce hours of wasted time, resulting greater efficiencies for your business.
Better Customer Experience
In many ways, an operating procedure can create a better customer experience. This is because the procedure tells each employee their role in dealing with customers, so nothing in the process is dropped.
If someone is to contact a customer, the SOP can tell them. If someone is to take a customer’s order, the SOP says who is responsible. It outlines all the little details that create a better customer experience.
When you go home for the evening, do you continue to worry about the business? Do you go to bed with a constant concern that things aren’t being handled? A standard operating procedure, when properly written and implemented, can reduce this worry. Instead of having a business that works in a chaotic, confused fashion, everything will be smooth and clear, which can significantly reduce your worry.
Need Help Creating a Procedure? Listen to Your Employees
Creating a good SOP is tough, and we certainly can’t outline the entire process here. But we can provide one simple tip: listen to your experienced team members. These are the people who know your business best, who can provide clear, useful, actionable ideas on your operating procedures.
Don’t let their valuable experience go to waste. Use their knowledge and input to craft your SOP.
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