You may realize that you need process and systems in your business to be able to create more money, products, and time so you can grow your business. Having procedures will ensure you can reproduce your clients’ best experiences over and over, avoid doing the wrong thing more than once, and create a system that allows you to monitor the quality of your product or service. This is the key to running a business that can grow beyond one person.
Here is a process I use to create procedures in my businesses.
Identify a task you regularly perform in your business.
Whether it is something that you do every time you connect with a potential client or a review process for your customer service, you need to look at the things that you do as independent pieces that could be transplanted into another office or business. Ask yourself these two questions:
“If I could do this exactly the same every time would my customers see better, more consistent service from my company?”
“Could I hand-off this one piece to another person to perform and something in my business would then be completed?”
Sometimes it is hard to break our process down to small enough pieces, but don’t worry if you have chosen something that is too big. As we start teasing out the steps it will become more obvious which parts can be independent processes.
Walk through the task.
The best time to do this is when you are actually performing the task as a result of serving your client. As you go through the steps I want you to write down everything you do. This is the difficult part. When we do this ourselves we take some steps for granted. For instance, you might write down, “To create new quote open file XXX.doc”. Someone that has never performed this process before may ask: “Where do I find this file, how do I know it is the most recent, where do I save it once open, does it automatically increase the quote #?” You have to start thinking like someone that knows nothing about what you do. Asking questions of yourself will be your best ally in creating valuable instruction for someone else.
Write it down!
Write down every step, every question, every location, anything your clients or colleagues may have asked or said, everything you go through and think. Everything you write down this way will not end up in the final procedure, but by having everything in one place while you finalize the document, you will not have to look back or try to recreate the situation again just to answer questions that will come up as you create the procedure.
Put it in a template.
Decide on a template that fits your business culture and needs. You may want or need something that is very formal or you may be able to create something that is extremely simple. Two things I would recommend for the every written procedure are:
- Who is this for – identify who would be performing this task (someone in sales, marketing, customer support, manufacturing, etc.)
- Purpose – Why would someone need to follow this procedure
For example: This procedure is for a sales associate during a sale’s signing. This process was created to ensure that all information from the new client is captured so we can effectively service them after the purchase and continue to market to them in the future.
Other things you might want to put in your template would be:
- Definitions – a table or section that defines things in your business that are always needing definition or that may be confused with something else
- Introduction – a paragraph that summarizes what the procedure will detail
TIP – You can do this yourself or you can teach someone what you do and get them to create the procedure. This will give them ownership of the process and they will take it farther and make it better than you can alone.