When John Warrilow, world-renown author and founder of The Value Builder System*, comments on something it’s worth taking notice.
In a recent presentation, John described Standard Operating Procedures as the foundation of a business that is built to sell. Amongst other things, they provide the following for a business-:
The secret to happy customers – by helping to provide your customers with a consistent experience
Minimise the owner’s time spent problem solving – SOPs allow owners to pre-empt most questions employees ask resulting in less staff interruptions therby freeing up much needed business owner time to tackle other challenges.
Help to train confident employees – SOPs give employees clear instructions on what main tasks make up their jobs.
Increase the value of the company – by giving an acquirer more confidence that the business will continue to survive without the owner.
So if documenting your Standard Operating Procedures really does;
increase the value of your business,
improve profitability from greater efficiencies and productivity and
give the owner much needed time to focus on other things,
then why do some owners not invest the time required to put these SOPs in place? From my experience, it comes down to two things, time and money, and fundamentally, knowing where and how to start.
Anecdotally there is enough evidence to support an argument that the documentation of key processes and procedures will increase productivity and efficiencies which in turn will flow through to improved profitability. It’s also clear that any time spent documenting key processes and procedures now will be rewarded threefold in the future. That takes care of the time and money obstacles.
As to how and where to start here are the Seven Secrets for creating Standard Operating Procedures that John Warrilow advises will stand the test of time in your business.
Use Video – If a picture says a 1000 words then a video is worth a million. By creating processes and training material in video format staff will enjoy the learning process and be more likely to retain the information. Such content can be supported by written documentation
Keep your SOPs short – show your employees how you want them to perform a specific task. If you need more than two minutes break your instructions up into shorter video clips.
One touch – the best SOPs are structured so that an individual only touches the process once.
No double data entry – if a SOP requires entering data make sure that a single piece of data or field is only populated once and by a single person.
Clear roles and responsibilities – when designing SOPs make sure it is clear who is responsible for each step.
Make SOPs available where employees need them the most – ideally your SOPs should be cloud based and appear where your employees do their work so they can access them just in time without having to sift through a massive Google drive or Dropbox folder.
Solicit help from Process experts: – just like Finance, Health and Safety and HR, SOPs are now an expertise in their own right. Experts from companies like New Zealand’s Bedrock provide guidance around templates, structures and frameworks which help make such an exercise less daunting
Increasingly I am hearing the message from business owners that they’re working too hard for fewer rewards. The more I research documenting SOPs the more I am convinced that if business owners invested the time they currently spend answering queries from their staff into documenting these processes, the quicker they would regain that lost time to use on more meaningful things in life The benefits of putting some extra effort over the next few months into starting this process will quickly become apparent, while the longer-term benefits will continue to accrue as these SOPs are developed and introduced.
*The Value Builder System is a cloud-based assessment tool that helps build the value of a company. It has helped more than 55,000 business owners improve their company’s value by up to 71 percent.
A question that business owners often ask, is: ” What will work best for me, a business coach or business mentor?” The difference between the two can be confusing, so let’s clear it up as best as we can.
Both coaches and mentors are experienced business owners, consultants or leaders who have been successful in their careers and can bring an objective view to your business, which will help you improve your performance. While the aim of both coaching and mentoring is to help you achieve better outcomes from your business, the method of getting there – the journey – is quite different.
The Role of a Business Mentor
The defining factor of a business mentor’s role is that they have experience in your specific industry. Accordingly, they will help you understand the business norms and best practices in your industry. A mentor will also give you direction on what path they think is the best one when you are making key decisions. An important point to note here is that because a mentor knows more than you do, they will give clear recommendations, which you will be expected to take.
This works well in corporates and large businesses, where those with more experience mentor those with less experience, particularly when you, as the client, are new to a role or function, and where the mentor truly does understand the industry and business better than you do.
As a business owner, however, identifying the best approach for you: business mentor or coach, can be refined down to one question: how directive would you like this person to be? If you want someone who will tell you what to do, choose a mentor, for they will provide specific solutions to problems you are having, and recommend their preferred route when you are faced with choices.
If you decide to go with a business mentor, however, make sure you choose the right mentor for you – one that has experience in your industry and, if possible, in your industry niche.
The Role of a Business Coach
Where a business mentor coaches through telling, a business coach believes in your inherent wisdom and ability to make the choice that is best for you. They are aware that your personal goals and style of leading will result in you making a unique set of decisions that reflect what matters to you. Let’s face it if you own a kitchen design business, you know if you want to:
be the biggest supplier of kitchens in the country,
supply a smaller range of kitchens, at the highest possible margin, or
want to be known for beautifully designed kitchens that utilise sustainably sourced products.
We all have our own way of looking at the world and the choices we make reflect this.
Coaches inherently respect this – and support you to choose the path that is best for you, believing that you need to be the author of your own life.
For this reason, a business coach will support you to set clear goals and identify strategies and a set of concrete actions that will enable you to achieve your goals. They will then walk beside you as you take this path, and challenge you if you start to veer off the path. They will also hold your feet to the fire if you put off decisions or actions that you need to make to achieve your goals.
But they will not tell you what to do.
They will be there for the long haul, acting as a sounding board when you need to bounce ideas around or help you stay motivated and connected to your vision when you start to lose sight of where you are going.
It’s surprisingly easy to get started. To get results, a coach will sit down with you to define your goals and create a strategic plan. They will then meet with you regularly to review where you are at, and whether the actions you are taking are achieving the results you need, so you can revise and update the plan as necessary.
Once you are clear about where you want to go, they will ask questions that will help you get a bigger perspective on the issues and opportunities in front of you. In this way, they support you to make the best decisions you can – and help you to achieve what you are capable of as a business leader.
They will also help you to develop clarity on the strengths and weaknesses of your business, and what you need to do differently to strengthen the foundation of your business so that over time its performance constantly improves. Read more on business coaching here.