Skip to content
All posts

Want To Improve Your Growing Business? SOPs are the Answer.

We have some helpful insight with our Definitive Guide to Standard Operating Procedures.

If you have a growing business, you probably consider your employees the heart that keeps the whole thing beating. In an ideal world, they’ll be organised individuals who use their initiative and are always 100% sure of what they’re meant to do and how they’re meant to do it. If that’s not the case, and you have to micromanage staff and explain things repeatedly, it’s likely down to your SOPs—or lack of them!

Business owners constantly look for ways to improve operations, increase employee motivation and productivity, and grow profits. SOPs are the quickest and easiest way to do that, and implementing them should be step one if you’re trying to grow your business.

You’ve read ‘SOP’ three times now (four if we count that one), and if you’re not sure what they are - let alone if you have them - allow me to explain…

SOP stands for Standard Operating Procedures and does what it says on the tin: they are the procedures for your business's standard operations. They are clear, in-depth instructions that explain to those who need to know how to perform a task or activity. Good SOPs leave no room for interpretation or mistakes—they are straight up and to the point and are used by every industry you can think of to help keep things organized and running efficiently. 

Whatever task your SOP describes needs to be simple to follow, quick to read, and easy to understand - think of your SOPs as ‘idiot’s guides’ (but maybe don’t call them that in front of people). The vast majority of employees don’t want to be stopping what they’re doing every five minutes to come and check that they’re doing it correctly; they want to get on with their work and do a good job - all of which is much easier if the company they work for has good SOPs.

A good SOP is going to improve hiring (as I said, no one wants a job where you’re just left to get on with it, with no clue as to what procedures are), improve customer relations (“everyone in this business knows what they’re doing - yay! I’ll use them again.”), and lead to increased profits (Ker-ching!)

What Makes A Good SOP?

Three words:

Information. Information. Information.

Your SOP should never assume that the person reading it is already familiar with even one step of the process. Everything needs to be explicitly stated, and it’s always better to give more information than not enough.

Now, when I say ‘more information, I don’t mean great big bodies of text. Keep it as concise as possible, and use infographics or diagrams if you think it’s a better way to communicate a more complex procedure; this is particularly helpful to employees who are more visual learners.

Even if it’s a process you’ve done a billion times and could do blindfolded, still take the time to test the steps before making it part of your official SOP. You might think of ways to improve it or even change it entirely while putting your SOP together. The whole point is putting together a foolproof plan that will benefit your employees, make their lives easier and less stressful, give newbies a head-start, and ensure you can spend your time more productively.

So, increased profits, higher levels of productivity….fewer people knocking on the door to your office during the day….

...but what are some of the other benefits that good SOPs bring to the table?

Top Benefits Of Having Good SOPs

1. Hiring and keeping employees will be so much easier

I touched on this briefly, but good SOPs will make hiring new staff more straightforward. 

New employees have it tough; they must learn what needs to be done, what time frame, and how - and know who everyone is, what they do, and how the temperamental coffee machine in the break room works. It could be that when someone new starts, you have them shadow another member of staff who will train them on the job - perhaps you even do it yourself. With good SOPs in place, new team members can get up to speed in their own time, meaning you or other employees can spend less time training and more time working and running your business.

Having good SOPs in place will also help keep your staff. Procedure guides remove ambiguity from tasks and ensure that everything runs smoothly. We all want to work somewhere free from stress and confusion! The upside is that your employees won’t spend the day re-doing work or correcting errors, saving time and money.

2. It promotes positivity in the workplace

Fewer people complaining that they’re confused about what they’re meant to be doing can only be a good thing - for them and you. Successful employees are happy and productive employees - and the sense of achievement that comes from a job well done can all be down to having clear instructions to follow. 

Employees can perform how they want to without constantly questioning how and why things are done, which means less stress and frustration and contributes to a positive atmosphere.
3. SOPs can help you identify problems

Writing down procedures step-by-step is a great way to spot any gaps causing problems. Perhaps you’ve been forgetting an essential step in your invoicing or ordering process or leaving out important information, causing your employees to make mistakes somewhere along the line.

Taking a close look at your business’s procedures and breaking it down into bite-sized chunks could lead to you changing the way you operate altogether and discovering a new, more efficient way to do things. 

4. You can make your workplace a safer place

Whatever industry you’re working in, safety is paramount, not just to avoid injured members of staff and customers, but to avoid damaged or broken equipment (that could be expensive to replace), as well as potential legal action!

SOPs that you have proven to be safe and efficient go a long way to avoid that. Ensuring that employees know the correct procedures will save you considerable money and stress and uphold the excellent reputation you’ve undoubtedly worked hard to earn.

5. SOPs can improve customer service

As a business owner, customer service is one of your top priorities. Once you have enticed them into trying your product or service, you want them to leave satisfied and hopefully return again and again. 

Your level of customer service could mean the difference between years and years of repeat business or them bad-mouthing you all over social media…

...but what does that have to do with SOPs? 

Not having SOPs for customer service could be business suicide. What’s your procedure for dealing with customer complaints? (They can and do happen.) What are your guidelines on follow-up times when a customer asks someone to get in touch? How are new customer service enquiries dealt with?

A good SOP will ensure that all your employees are on the same page regarding customer service, fostering good customer relations, boosting your brand, bolstering your reputation, and increasing your profits. 

Remember To Review

Your SOPs are written. 

They’re beautiful, clear, concise, simple to follow...laminated… 

Now, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy that your employees are as happy as Larry, and nothing will ever go wrong again. 

Not quite.

Writing SOPs isn’t a one-off job you’ll never have to do again. As your business grows, so might require your procedures. You might add new ones, eliminate others, or remove steps from existing procedures. 

To keep your SOPs as effective as possible, you must review them periodically to update them as your business or practices change. Reviewing them once a year is always a good idea, but if you’re experiencing fast growth or your company is changing direction, you will want to review some of your SOPs more frequently. 

It’s a good idea to involve your employees when reviewing your SOPs. After all, they’re carrying out the procedures and might have spotted ways the SOP could be improved that you might not.

And so there you have it; SOPs are essential for the growth of any business, especially when it comes to training new employees, improving processes, and giving customers the best possible experience. So, if your business doesn’t already have them, get them.

You can thank us later.

Ready to learn more? Book a FREE discovery call today.