Pop quiz time: What’s one of the most important skills you need to grow a small business successfully?
Knowing how to lead a team, including how to delegate. This can take some time to learn.
Thankfully, there’s a tool that can take some of the leadership load off your shoulders: the standard operating procedure or SOP.
Yes, it’s a list of instructions, but many entrepreneurs underestimate the power of this simple document. With an SOP, you can be more efficient, create a consistent work product and share your expectations with your team.
Leading a team isn’t easy, even if it’s just you and one other person. An SOP is a great way to put your words and instructions on paper to keep your team on track. Read our recent post on the many benefits of SOPs for a small business.
Our top 3 recommended SOPs
If you’re ready to use standard operating procedures, here are the first 3 we recommend.
1. SOP for seamless client onboarding
Ever work with a business where you got different information depending on who you spoke with? Or maybe you dealt with a new employee who had to check or confirm details several times? What was your impression of the company afterwards?
No one wants their business to look like disorganized chaos from the client’s point of view. And you might feel empathy for a new employee, but quality of service shouldn’t be affected.
There’s nothing like making a great first impression on new clients. And a consistent, efficient process to get them started will do that. It doesn’t matter if your service takes a week or a day to complete, your business will look organized and professional when you start seamlessly.
Why use an SOP for client onboarding:
- Make a great first impression and start work flowing smoothly.
- Give clients immediate attention, even before the actual service work begins.
- Use it as a checklist for your team (including new employees) to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
- Maintain consistent customer service and internal records.
- Collect information that allows you to ask for reviews and referrals later.
The steps for this SOP will depend on your type of business. If you need advice, ask us about steps for your client onboarding SOP.
2. SOP for flawless invoicing & payments
We hate hearing that a project wasn’t invoiced correctly or about a glitch with a client’s credit card payment. We bet you do too. Luckily, the next SOP helps you catch or avoid these errors pronto.
You might have a great payment processor, but mistakes happen. And reducing these mistakes starts at your business with a standard operating procedure.
Top reasons for having an SOP for payments & invoicing:
- Never miss invoicing clients after a project.
- Ensure nothing gets left out of billing for a service job.
- Make sure payments go through correctly and you get paid on time.
- Avoid or catch costly mistakes from human error or tech glitches.
If you need help, ask us how to set up an SOP for invoicing & payments.
3. SOP for employee/contractor onboarding that saves time
Big companies have an HR department, an employee handbook and a training program. As an entrepreneur, you get to handle all of this yourself – lucky you.
Bringing on help is the first step to freeing up your time. But you might cringe at the time it takes to train and manage a new employee.
An SOP can help you manage the process and keep it stress free, whether you’re bringing on employees or independent contractors.
What you gain from using an SOP to onboard new hires:
- You don’t have to think or stress about what’s next when you have a set process with all documents included.
- Share your expectations clearly, which leads to better performance on their end.
- Helps you evaluate new employees and hold them accountable.
- Save time on training with procedures that are easy for new employees to follow.
- Have a safer work environment when procedures are outlined.
- Improve communication with your team overall.
This type of SOP can vary greatly, depending on your needs. Ask us how one would look for your employee onboarding.
Just like new hires, SOPs add a little extra work up front, but save you a ton of time in the long run. We’re here to help if you want to free up your time with SOPs.