Standard Operating Procedure: Safeguarding Franchise Quality
Modernizing standard operating procedure is crucial for organizations, especially if they have multiple teams and locations. SOPs are critical to ensuring consistent quality, support training, and reduced risk. Our years of experience have taught us how well-communicated systems, clearly articulated instructions, and transparent policies can transform any business, leading to dramatic 50% faster employee boarding, 65% fewer errors, and reduced employee training costs.
Before we delve deeper into this post, let’s first have a quick sneak peek into the definition.
What is Standard Operating Procedure?
As per Wikipedia,
A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organization to help workers carry out complex routine operations. SOPs aim to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance, while reducing miscommunication and failure to comply with industry regulations.
Let’s consider a hypothetical situation – You want to return a dress you had purchased recently. You walk into the merchandise store. You are then directed to the customer desk, where you come across a salesperson. The salesperson then checks on his system to see if your purchased product is eligible for return. The store already has a set of written rules in place for how to handle such situations. This written set of instructions is known as standard operating procedure.
SOPs optimizing customer experience
For organizations that have multiple teams and locations, it’s critical for them to have Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to not only systemize their internal processes for better efficiency but also provide a consistent customer experience. Regardless of how good your product or service is, there’s no faster way to lose a customer than providing an inconsistent experience.
SOPs, when done right, create huge value for your business but SOPs done with clunky paper manuals using difficult-to-understand language are detrimental to your business. SOPs should utilize modern tools that implement your processes in the desired way but also provide two-way feedback loops so that the SOPs created from the headquarter constantly gets improved and updated based on the field’s feedback.
Organizations have realized that informal, ad hoc communication is just not enough to deliver the consistency needed in SOP dominated industries; retail, restaurant, hotel, construction, manufacturing, healthcare and logistics.
Tips for modernizing your Standard Operating Procedure
Here are key takeaways in modernizing your SOPs for the success of your business:
1. Get the tools in order
SOPs are usually documented in clunky paper manuals or Word document on the company’s shared intra drive or might even have their SOPs in their Intranet. But all these tools, even the Intranet makes finding and utilizing these SOPs difficult for your employees. Intranets are too static and lack both the interaction and the engagement for the employees. Additionally, Intranets and paper manuals make your SOPs too rigid without any appropriate mechanism for receiving the feedback from the field to improve your SOPs on an ongoing basis. You need a tool, with which you can easily create, update, simplify and modernize your SOPs with better interactivity and collaboration tools for your employees. The ideal tool should be a one-stop platform, where employees can find the important SOPs, training materials, company updates and communication with an aim to provide better consistency in customer service and sales across locations.
2. Find the balance between standardization and flexibility for your organization
You will need to find the right balance between the standardization and the need for improvement on the fly. The moment you have more than two locations and more than 10 employees, you would need to standardize your processes in order to provide the clarity that your employees expect from you. But depending on the industry such as marketing or design agency, where the rules of the game are changing at a faster pace, you would ideally have less rigid SOPs, giving more room to creativity for your employees to create new standards on a more regular basis. However, industries such as restaurants, hotels, logistics, healthcare, retail, construction, you would need to have less dynamic SOPs with a continuous feedback loop and interactivity to improve those SOPs on an ongoing basis.
3. Include your scattered workforce in SOP conversation
Your scattered workforce in the field are doing their jobs on a daily basis and they regularly find new ways to improve your processes. Hence, your SOP software should allow you to easily gather inputs from the field in creating and updating your SOPs. Some of Sparkwork’s customers have run internal campaigns asking their employees to record a video of them doing a certain process in their company and those ones that have significantly improved an existing process are rewarded. This newly discovered process is then standardized throughout the organization.
4. Jargon-free language
SOPs are known for being long, incomprehensible texts that no-one likes to refer to. Technical terms used in SOPs should be clearly explained in plain language. There shouldn’t be any room for interpretations or errors. Your SOP language should be representative of the widely accepted language in your company and industry.
5. Use videos and images
Unless mandatory, avoid using texts at all. As they say, “a picture speaks a thousand words whereas a video is worth a million words”, we believe that organizations should have a platform that actively sources images and videos created in the field by their scattered workforce and use the crowd sourced materials to modernize their SOPs with a lot of pictures and videos.
6. Regular and easy updates
SOPs should be regularly updated to reflect the progress that the organization’s newly learned skills in improving and old SOP. With the ability to crowd source on the improvement of the processes with new tools, organizations are able to update their SOPs more easily without major costs to the company.
We believe that SOPs are critical to the success of any organization that has multiple locations and teams when properly done they provide the clarity, accountability, and consistency. Your scattered workforce should be able to find the important SOPs, training materials, company updates and communication in a one-stop platform such that they work in tandem to provide better consistency in customer service and sales across your entire operations.
Why should you upgrade your standard operating procedure?
Even though there are abundant tools and easy access to the technologies, franchisors continue to give employees hard copies of manuals that only further confuse and frustrate them. Franchisees should ditch the old school method and integrate comprehensive P&Ps in order to enhance quality, whilst reducing training costs and empowering employees as a whole.
Please book a 60 mins demo from this link and learn more how you can also unify your standard operating procedure, engage your scattered workforce via online training, modern communication and knowledge hub.