Tips for Standard Operating Procedures (SOP):
- An effective system of rewards and penalties is crucial to ensure the quality of service provided by employees.
- ‘Work Instructions’ are required to standardize all procedures, serving as a valuable reference for employees and ensuring consistent service across all branch locations.
- Patience is key. Begin by standardizing operations in a single store, then expand this process to multiple locations, and, ultimately, establish a central headquarters team.
Every entrepreneur dreams of expanding their business, and opening more branches seems like a great way to earn more.
However, many business owners face a common problem. It is not always a lack of money that stops them from opening new branches. The issue often comes up when they try to expand rapidly after one successful store. Unfortunately, the new branches do not perform well, receive criticism, and this can crush the confidence they had, leading them to reluctantly close down these additional stores.
The primary concern is that negative reviews from these branches can harm the reputation of the main branch, which was initially doing well.
Based on our experience, we have observed this happening frequently, and the main issue is that many owners lack a clear understanding of how to effectively manage multiple branches.
Regardless of running a single or multiple stores, particularly in service industries, there is a persistent challenge that haunts business owners, which is to ensure and manage the quality of service delivered by their staff.
Business owners, while your products may be consistent, there is always performance variability when it comes to tasks that require human involvement.
If the employees are in a good mood, their service is likely to be exceptional and will be done meticulously. However, if they are in a bad mood, there may be various mistakes, lack of attention to detail, affecting the overall service quality and consistency. Therefore, it is crucial to find solutions for such issues especially when branching out your business.
Solution 1: Improve Human Resources and Management
As the idiom says, ‘you can’t expect the horse to run fast but not let it graze’, resonates with many employees and is a critical concern for business owners.
To bring out the best in their employees, incentives and rewards play a crucial role. This becomes even more critical in multi-store management.
Business owners must make sure that employees have a clear understanding of their benefits, which should encompass the rewards and penalties system, creating a sense of purpose and motivation for employees to not only fulfill their roles but also exceed expectations when necessary.
Solution 2: Implement Standard Operating Procedures and Work Instructions
To ensure that all employees in every branch can provide consistent service, business owners should gradually compile all the services offered into a comprehensive ‘Work Instructions’ with standardized procedures. The ‘Work Instructions’ will serve as a valuable guidance for all employees to perform their tasks.
In business operations, we can break it down into two main segments: the first half and the second half.
The first half includes aspects like finances, human resources, and information technology, which are often termed “supporting operations.” Its primary aim is to facilitate the seamless flow of operational activities. With the support of the first half in place, the second half encompasses the core operational tasks, focusing on how to effectively provide services to customers.
For business owners looking to expand into multiple branches, it is essential not to delay in developing standardized operating procedures (SOP) until the moment of new branch launching. The SOPs should be prepared well in advance.
When it comes to standardizing work processes, preparing ‘Work instructions’ for all kinds of services offered is a good start. These manuals systematically document each work process, and the inclusion of relevant images for clarification can greatly enhance their effectiveness. Standardizing the operational processes with training provided could help to ensure quality service consistently.
Following this, business owners could let the employees perform tasks according to the SOPs on their own and assess if they can achieve the desired results when working independently.
Subsequently, in terms of operations, it is important to develop a higher-level work instructions manual for single-store management, encompassing everything from store opening to daily closure. This manual should cover aspects like financial management, personnel administration, procurement, service operations, customer service, reports to be submitted from the branches to the headquarter, etc.
Since creating these guidelines requires time to validate their effectiveness and test their efficiency, it is not advisable to rush the process or rely too heavily on templates that are purchased online. (template purchases are recommended for reference purposes only).
Instead, it is best to gradually begin standardizing operations starting with a single store, then expand to multiple stores, and finally establish a central headquarter team.
Although this is time-consuming, it is a prudent and stable approach. If you have substantial financial resources, it is advisable not to overinvest to prevent excessive management costs that could turn the business unprofitable.
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