At the heart of a turn-key business is the operations manual. It is the authoritative source for defining how things are done in your company. This tool provides your employees with the guidance they need to operate your business with confidence and independence. It is the single-point reference for everything your employees need to know. Thus it should be the first thing that new employees are trained on. It should also be the source for ongoing reminders and training within your organization.
I have already discussed the 5 reasons every small business needs an operations manual. But what exactly does it look like? An operations manual has 3 parts:
- The Company Overview
- The Company Systems
- The Company Job Descriptions
The Company Overview
The company overview section should tell the company story and history. It should highlight the mission, values, and vision of the company as well. It should also provide an overview of the entire organization (i.e. an organizational chart).
The Company Systems
The company systems section should describe the 5 major systems of every business which are:
- The Marketing System
- The Selling System
- The Customer Fulfillment System
- The Administrative System
- The Human Resource System
These 5 systems describe the totality of your company organization and how your company operates. In fact, these business systems are a key component should you decide to sell your business.
The Company Job Descriptions
The final section should contain all the critical job descriptions within your organization. Spend some time with each employee and create a comprehensive job description you can provide to current and new hires.
How to Get Started
You may want to start by simply creating checklists for all the major functions within your company. You may want to have a monthly marketing checklist (marketing system), a selling conversation checklist (selling system), a productions checklist (or a series of production checklists), a daily/weekly/monthly routine checklist for your administrative staff, and an HR checklist (or a series of HR checklists). You will also want to make sure you have any important forms or technology for all of your critical business processes.
You may want to build something a bit more comprehensive by creating policies for all of the 5 major systems, and step-by-step procedures for each of the individual processes within each system.
However, if you want the best operations manual you should include these components:
- A purpose statement for each major system
- A flow chart for each major system which shows how this system “flows” from beginning to end
- A list of policies for this system (i.e. the things you “always” do and the things you “never” do)
- A table of contents for the processes included in each system followed by a detailed step-by-step procedure, checklists, and any other documents (e.g. forms, templates, etc.) needed to successfully execute the process
Do You Need Help Building an Operations Manual?
One of the things I enjoy most as a business coach is helping business owners build and document their systems. This is the central component to a strong operations manual. Obviously this doesn’t happen over night, but taking the time with a disciplined process to follow will be well worth your time and money. You can create a turn-key business that will serve you well while you own it and potentially worth a fortune when you sell. If you are in the Sugar Land, Katy, or Houston area, contact us for a FREE 1-hour strategy session to help you get started!