'll never forget it. I had started a company, and one by one we grew
it until we had thirty employees. So there I was, speaking with one of
the managers about some daily documentation. I had noticed there were
some redundant entries. Clearly a waste of our precious time. "Why are
you doing it like that?" I asked. "Well... that's the way we've always
done it," he replied. Ouch. I knew this was my fault...and I knew I
needed help!Here's the deal: If you're running a business and you
haven't identified the one best way to perform each repeatable task or
process (such as answering the phone in a consistent manner, managing
your sales process etc.) then you're in big trouble.
We all want consistency and predictability when we deal with a business. In order to achieve that, you have to take discretion out of the equation when it comes to how your employees perform repeatable tasks. That's the perfect world, and in order to maintain a perfect world for your company, you must have an operations manual. The operations manual is the very reason that franchises are so successful; it eliminates all the guesswork on how to do things. You simply find the "one best way" and document it in a step-by-step manner.
But a note of caution: Just because the process is documented, it does not necessarily mean it's always going to be the "one best way" to perform that process. You should challenge your employees to improve on how things are done to increase productivity and quality of results. That said, your operations manual should be a "living document."
In today's ultra-competitive marketplace, you simply have to provide your customers with consistency or you're not going to grow your business as you otherwise could. The fact is, the best way to grow your business is by positive word-of-mouth... and people are more likely to recommend a company when they know their recommendation is going to make them look good.
Aside from a written step-by-step operations manual, you might consider the "video operations manual." You've heard the phrase "a picture tells a thousand words"... well in today's economy, a picture actually tells 1348 words. Which is why a video might be more helpful in training a new employee on the various repeatable processes that make up their job description. This does not mean you can't train your employees using a real live person, but it does mean you can use the video to support and follow-up the training. And that's a good thing.
So take the guesswork out of running your company and create a written operations manual (supported by a video operations manual). This will allow you to provide your customers (and employees) with positively predictable experiences when dealing with your company.