- The work processes serve as a “Bible” of each store, documenting the methods, standards, and details of the day’s operations from opening to closing.
- It should be concise and straightforward, with a primary focus on clear instructions to prevent any misunderstandings or errors among the employees.
Running a business has never been a simple matter.
Even if it is just a small store that seems easy to operate, from the moment of opening until closing, every step and action must be meticulously carried out with precision and without any room for complacency.
Without well-defined and standardized operating procedures, a store’s operations can descend into utter chaos. This not only impacts the efficiency and leads to customer dissatisfaction but also burdens the owner with unnecessary expenses and potential losses, putting the business at risk of generating no profits or even incurring losses.
We (3S Adviser) have been involved with numerous enterprises/businesses, ranging from single-store setups to chains/franchises since 2001. Throughout this experience, it became evident that a complete Operation Manual (SOP) is a necessity for many of these businesses.
A complete Operation Manual goes beyond merely recording the daily operations from opening to closing, it also includes crucial operational standards and provides clear instructions for every detail, thereby enhancing work efficiency and to ensure that employees must adhere to its guidelines.
If there are multiple stores, it is advisable not to use a single Operation Manual for all. Since the business operations and environments may differ, it is essential to customize the operation manuals to address specific needs accordingly.
Below is a concise outline of the fundamental requirements included in an Operation Manual:
- Company Introduction:
When there is a new hire, the bosses usually tell the new employees that their stores are “simple”. Unfortunately, this brief statement often becomes the “initial reason” why employees may not stay for long.
Many people may wonder why employees do not stick around, but after years of experience, it has become clear that employee turnover is not solely influenced by salary, the boss’s attitude, or relationships among employees. It ultimately hinges on having a compelling “reason to work here.”
Thus, what can be done for improvement? We suggest that the bosses can provide more comprehensive information about the company when there is a new hire. This could include the store’s history, introduction to the store owner and colleagues, and the organizational structure.
This approach could let the new employees gain a better understanding of the store/brand and is more likely to encourage long-term commitment and job satisfaction among the staff by providing a “meaningful reason to work.”
- Employee Work Guidelines:
When employees come to work, it is not solely about relying on their talents and intelligence. If everyone were equally brilliant, there would be no one complaining about “life being unfair.”
Therefore, even for a small store, it is essential to have a well-defined and comprehensive set of employee work guidelines.
These guidelines should clearly outline employees’ duties, behavioral standards, all responsibilities, working hours, disciplinary measures, and other important aspects for a more efficient and harmonious working environment, which contributes to the overall success of the store.
- Human Resources Work Processes
After employees have a clear understanding of the company’s expectations and guidelines, the next important aspect is to acquaint them with the HR management procedures.
The guidelines include the procedures for leave application, training sessions, claim/reimbursement policy (outlining eligible expenses for reimbursement), and overtime calculation, and other relevant matters.
- Daily Operations
There is a popular phrase saying that “The Seven Necessities to Begin A Day” which emphasizes the importance of providing clear instructions for every aspect, from the store’s daily opening to closing each day, unless the stores operate 24/7 then there will be no daily closure.
Moreover, it is essential to have proper handover procedures if they have shift rotations. From our past experiences, there are bosses often asking the reason why to do so since they have experienced employees who already know what to do, however, we will always remind clients of the scenario of new employees joining the team, which we need standardized guidelines for better handover.
When opening a new store, everyone starts as a new employee without a mentor. Is it truly necessary to depend solely on an employee’s “intelligence”? What if they are not exceptionally smart enough to handle work? Hiring intelligent employees usually requires higher costs, so what is the budget for their salary? Additionally, by providing clear instructions and guidance on daily tasks, we can reduce the likelihood of inconsistent work quality issues.
- Product Management Procedure
In a retail store, effective product management involves several key aspects. First, it includes inventory management, which encompasses strategies for handling stock, addressing situations where items go missing in the store, guidelines for purchasing goods, maintaining accurate inventory records, and scheduling regular stocktaking. Clearly defining roles and responsibilities for inventory management is essential for smooth operations.
Furthermore, product display plays a crucial role. It entails clearly explaining the rules for displaying products, what is permissible and what is not, where specific items should be placed, and how they should be arranged. If possible, providing visual aids or images for illustration would be beneficial.
- Cash Management Procedure
For many small-sized stores, the owner handles cash transactions personally. However, if the cash management rules are clearly stated, the owner can hire someone with confidence, and they can travel without worries.
The cash management rules should explain the cashier’s responsibilities, the upper limit of cash in the register, the required amount of money to be deposited in the bank daily or regularly, authorized personnel who can access the cash register, and accountability in case of any missing money.
- Customer Complaint Management Procedure
Running a business revolves around serving customers, and even in a grocery store, there will be instances of customers requesting returns or exchanges. In businesses that provide services, encountering customer complaints about specific incidents or individuals is inevitable.
Therefore, this procedure aims to clearly outline how to handle such issues and provides guidelines on completing relevant forms, and it should specify the criteria for accepting legitimate complaints, such as requiring a receipt for return requests.
Having a concise set of guidelines for managing customer complaints is always preferable to having none at all. The main advantage is that, in case of employee mistakes, you can refer to these well-documented SOPs to prioritize customer satisfaction, and also use it as a valuable resource for training employees on proper complaint handling, avoiding responses like “I forgot” or “I didn’t know” from the employees.
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