Would you agree to board an airplane knowing that the pilot was simply ‘told’ what to do? Probably not! It’s not enough to TELL our employees what to do- it’s critical that we have clear guidelines and instructions in place to ensure our operations run smoothly and efficiently.
However, not all businesses are the same and not all standard operating procedures (SOPs) are made equal. It’s essential to have an SOP in place that is specific to YOUR business.
While you can model your SOP after other businesses, you’ll have to tweak it quite a bit for the pet care industry. If you simply try to copy and paste everything from an unrelated SOP…well, it’s a bit like wearing someone else’s underwear; it’s way better to have a fresh, clean SOP that’s tailored to your unique business!
As the owner of a pet sitting business, I quickly realized that simply telling my employees what to do was not nearly as effective as having a set of written instructions that they could follow step-by-step. Explaining how routine operations should be performed is crucial for any business, no matter the industry.
Wait, what exactly IS an SOP?
Standard Operating Procedures are crystal clear instructions created by a business to help employees carry out routine operations. SOPs aim to keep your business organized, increase the quality output, and create uniformity of performance. Remember, anyone in your organization should be able to understand each individual SOP.
Keep the language simple and take the time to explain key terms. SOPs help to significantly reduce miscommunication and boost overall employee confidence.
An SOP typically fails for one or more of the following reasons:
- Lack of clarity
- Lack of details
- The SOP isn’t easy to access
So, where do I begin?
An SOP can be anything from creating a new blog post to invoicing a new customer to drawing up a sales report and more! No matter what industry you’re in, SOPs can be extremely helpful to keep your team on track.
Think about EVERYTHING you do for your pet sitting business – from hiring and training to onboarding and offboarding clients, there are so many systems that happen each and every day. The key is to document each of these in your SOPs.
For my pet sitting business, my SOPs are alive…okay, they don’t bark or meow at me! But I treat them as living documents that I can make changes to as needed.
As your business grows, you may want to change how you jump into things and that’s great!
Whether your business is brand new or one that is quickly growing, be sure to keep all SOPs up-to-date and easily accessible. From printed documents to online sites, let it be known where all of these procedures live.
Asana or Trello are great project management tools, and also great places to store a checklist with your Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Here, your office staff (or you) can do a brain dump and organize the cards into categories that make sense to you. You can add people to the boards and you can share your thoughts and plans in an easy way.
Remember, if your SOP is out of sight, it’s out of mind for your employees
You want to create a space where these procedures live that’s easy to jump to at a moment’s notice.
Once you have clear and accessible Standard Operating Procedures in place, you can let them do the work for you – this ultimately allows you to work on the bigger picture ideas that actually enhance and grow your business!
As a business owner, if you’re looking to scale your business, add employees, and move forward, you’ll want to put together SOPs sooner rather than later. Don’t let everything live in your head – it can get way too chaotic!
Put everything down on paper – real or virtual! Whatever works best for you. Jump into creating SOPs and your future self will thank you– I promise!
About The Author:
Liz Illg is the Owner of Puff & Fluff Grooming and Pet Sitting with five locations in the Phoenix area. Not only has Liz turned her passion for animals into a thriving business, but she is also an expert when it comes to creating an environment of growth for your business as well. In fact, as an Operational Strategist, Liz specializes in working with small business owners and entrepreneurs. She can assist with everything from streamlining systems to creating manageable training and operational manuals. Liz received her Bachelor’s in Business from Arizona State University and her Master’s in Education from Northern Arizona University.