“Hey, Boss, do you have a second?” If you find yourself getting this question for answers you feel your employees should already know, it might be about time to update your procedural manual and work on your business—you need time for this too, not just tirelessly pumping out appraisals day in and day out. Maybe you’re thinking, “I’m only a single person entity. It’s me and maybe one other assistant. Why would I need a procedural manual?” But, there are at least two ways a manual can add value to your business, even for those of you who fly solo.
As you sit down to detail how your office is run, even if it’s just for you, documenting the process you go through is an enlightening experience. It’s ok to challenge what you do. You may notice some inefficiencies along the way as you complete this process. You might ask yourself, “why do I do it that way?” Or, “is there a better way?” It gives you an opportunity to think through and evaluate the chance that there might be something missing. Through this exercise, you have the potential to find multiple ways to improve. And as a growing business owner, what more could you ask for? Just through the process of documenting what you do, you’ll find ways to better yourself, your business, and your life.
If you go back and ask successful appraisers what they were thinking 20 years ago, they might tell you they set out alone but have since added other resourceful people to the mix. And with a manual, the opportunities to expand come readily and naturally. Since you are running a growing business, you are always thinking a few steps down the road. You could be doing things differently now than you ever intended. You have learned to never say never. You may think you don’t want to deal with managing and training, hiring and firing, but things change and you could possibly discover a new, better way to operate. If anything, having a procedural manual opens up the possibility for you to build up your business should you ever feel the itch. Expanding may not be for every business owner, but you can’t if you don’t have documentation of what you do.
When setting up your procedural manual, create an easily accessible online source. There are a lot of website hosts out there that you could use to create something like this, but sites.google.com offers all you need to create multiple webpages, and it’s conveniently free. Set up a webpage for customer service, data entry, research, office management, and any other components you see fit. Break down what you do into tiny bits, so within each category is the procedure for how to do that thing. When someone starts in the office, you can direct them to their section in the manual to study up on their job description. If you’ve done it right, you don’t have to worry about forgetting something important and they get thorough, tailored instruction. They in essence, train themselves and have a place of reference for the future. Teaching your employees to be self-sufficient learners in this way can prepare them to come to you with questions in context, so when they ask, you know it’s important.
For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: