Three Reasons Why You Need a Company Policies & Procedures Manual NOW

Growing up in the south, my grandmother baked the best apple pie I had ever tasted. With my nose just over the countertop, I would watch her cut up the apples and roll out the dough. After my grandmother passed away, my mom would make the same recipe. I asked my mom how she remembered the steps to put the pie together without looking at a recipe. She said, “I’ve never written it down; your grandmother showed me the process and I’ve made it so many times, I just know.”

I had no idea what went into this family recipe and if something were to happen to my mom, the recipe would go with her. So, I wrote it down—the ingredients, the measurements, the brand of apples they preferred, and why. Today, I can make an almost identical apple pie as my grandmother, and I plan to pass down the recipe to my girls.

Do you have a recipe that you treasure? What about your business recipe? Does one exist?

The recipe for your business is in your Company Policies & Procedures (P&P) Manual—the documentation on what, why, and how you do things in your business. Without one, you are risking the future of your legacy in business.

3 Reasons Why You Need a Policies & Procedures Manual

  1. You might forget. You may know exactly why you do a certain thing, at a certain time every day, like only checking email at 9:00 A.M., 12:00 P.M., and 3:00 P.M. to avoid distraction. But, you will forget the steps how in a process. Save yourself the trouble—write it down in your policies & procedures manual! Or record it and send it to your virtual assistant so she can start writing your policies & procedures guide.
  2. You can delegate. You may do something so often, you “just know” how (like my mom making the pie), but if you want to grow your business, at some point you have to delegate work to others. The best way to continue your model of success to the next person is to document in your policies & procedures the way you are currently doing something. The person you delegate to is going to do things the way they’ve been taught; if you’re not the one showing them how you want your business run, you risk they will do something costly. Take the time to record the what, why, and how of your method, and your business stands a greater chance of sustainability. Of course, you should always be open to ways to improve procedures, and with your work process documented, it’s even easier to analyze where those improvements are needed most.
  3. You might take a long walk off a short pier. It’s not fun to think about, or plan for our ultimate demise, but if your life were to stop short a P&P could really help out the person who continues–or correctly closes down–your business. I decided to tackle this recently by joining forces with a colleague. We agreed to cover the other in case of debilitating injury or death. We’ve shared the section of our P&P that concisely lists what, and how, the other person is to do to close down the business. Now we both know whatever is needed to close out the operations side of our business will be accomplished—and in the way we want.

Items to include in the section to close the business are:

  • How to notify clients of the situation. (List client contact information or link to the source.)
  • Ask clients how they’d like to proceed with their open projects.
  • How your client files are organized.
  • How to collect files to return to clients.

My client relationships are long-term and at a high level, and I take care of many details in their marketing. I’m also a one-person show. If I go, a lot of information goes with me. I always encourage my clients to know the ins and outs of their business, but they’ve work with me because I do things they can’t do or don’t have time to do, so it is a standard of mine that I keep a Policies & Procedure Manual for each of my clients. Whether we part ways due to the natural course of business, or the natural course of life, my clients are not left having to restart with someone else. And I feel really good knowing I’ve taken good care of the people who entrusted me with their businesses!

If you need help taking care of all your company policies, procedures and how-to’s—or any other business documentation—I would love to take a ride in the sidecar of your business, and help complete your Company P&P Manual along the way.