An operations manual is simply a written description of how your business operates on a daily basis. We should have one, regardless of the size of the business. Operations manuals put details in black and white and writing one is the perfect way to question why things are done in a particular way and as result, improve the way the business operates.
An operations manual can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. It is going to be used internally by other members of your team, not put on display for the general public to read. It should outline how any situation should be processed within your business. For example:
1. The opening procedures for the business
2. Expectations regarding staff appearance and conduct
3. Customer service procedures
4. Processing sales
5. Handling complaints
6. Ordering stock
7. Paying accounts
8. Company policy on staff entitlements
9. Use of company vehicles
10. Cleaning within the business
The list really is endless and clearly it depends on the type of business. But writing a manual like this really does make you investigate every part of your business in a detailed manner. Having written a few and advised my clients to write them the same feedback comes out every time – writing an operations manual is a work in progress. As you start writing a section, you start thinking about how it works and come up with better ideas on the spot. So the end product is very helpful for making sure that everyone knows what to do within your business but the writing process is great for questioning what you do and coming up with ways to do things better.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TODAY? If you haven’t got an operations manual today is the day to start it. Firstly make a list of all of the operational aspects of your business and then start filling in the details. Accept that it will be a work in progress. If you have an operations manual already, is it current and still accurate? Pull it out and read it cover to cover, I am sure that you will make changes for the better.