If you’re a business owner then you should absolutely have an operational manual. While you may be the person who knows the most about your business, you should NOT be the sole keeper of everything. Do you have steps in place for emergencies? Is there anyone who would know how to run your business if you were unable to? This is where an operational manual becomes key! It’s essential to do a brain dump– put everything that concerns your business on paper! Below are four points that every business owner should include in his or her operational manuals.
Sounds pretty basic, right? But I’m not just talking about your company’s contact information. In an operational manual, it’s essential to include all key contact information. This includes vendors, bank accounts, your landlord, insurance companies, clients, etc. Where do you keep all of this information now? If it’s scattered on a collection of sticky notes, business cards, and random files on your computer, now is the time to clean all of that up! On the flip side, it’s not a bad idea to provide your contacts with a back-up company contact in case you can’t be reached. Make sure you choose a responsible and, ideally, full-time employee to serve as your second in command.
Every operational manual should include detailed job descriptions. These descriptions should be updated regularly to account for changes in your business structure and if you decide to add or remove certain roles. This is helpful for both new and veteran employees who may have questions or concerns about their specific roles. As a business owner, you always want to be transparent in your expectations and this is an extremely helpful way to maintain that clarity.
Customer Service Policies & Procedures
Whether you provide a product or service, it’s vital to include customer service expectations in your operational manual. This can cover everything from how to deal with a frustrated customer to handling returns and refunds. Make it clear in this section how your company’s core values and mission relate back to the customer. How you communicate with and treat your customers is a huge part of whether or not your business will ultimately succeed. Make sure your employees know what’s expected of them.
What good is a business if no one knows about it?! Every good operational manual should include a comprehensive marketing section. This can include details on your company’s social media accounts, how often to post, social media guidelines, etc. This should also reference promotional materials and campaigns. Do you provide business cards for your employees? Do you hold in-store events? All of this information can be consolidated into this section!
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that an operational manual is a living, breathing document. This is not a manual that should be created only to be kept buried under piles of papers in the back of a filing cabinet. Ideally, this should be an online document that can be easily edited and updated as needed.
If creating an operational manual leaves you feeling overwhelmed, not to worry! That’s what I’m here for. Let’s have a one-on-one chat and discuss your business goals and ideas. I can certainly help you to create a comprehensive operational manual. Reach out to me here!