Guident Newsletter – November 2017 – Issue 19
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) well worth it!
One of my clients wanted to know how to increase profits without raising prices. I asked if they had established SOP’s in the various departments. The Boss said that would be impossible and way too costly and time-consuming. I then asked if they had any SOP’s. The answer was no. The Boss said if one of his managers wanted to set up SOP’s with me that would be fine as long as it didn’t take away from his productivity. I found this statement to be curious as SOP’s more often than not will enhance productivity and efficiencies. The service manager volunteered to work with me as his department was always lagging behind the other departments which were granted more resources.
Our job one was to observe the current procedures and then talk with the crew members asking how we could improve their processes. During one morning break I showed up with a Starbuck’s cardboard coffee carafe and a dozen donuts and we began to talk. In the fifteen minutes we had during their break period we came up with many procedures that, when implemented, had the potential to improve efficiencies. The manager and I took notes and the next day we came back with the first draft of our SOP’s. The crew members liked the fact that we listened to them and had included many of their ideas. Their buy-in was easy after that! They had ownership in the process.
Within a few weeks, the crews were beating their estimated times and the quality improved. The Boss asked the service manager what was going on and what we had done to make these changes. Needless to say, soon afterward I was helping the other managers establish their own SOP’s. Of course, we were asking the other department employees for their input and suggestions on how we could improve their processes. One of the best features of these improvements was increase quality throughout the company. Especially because this company did not have a dedicated quality control person in the main warehouse and each department or crew was to be the company’s quality control agents.
The company was more profitable by virtue of the increased efficiencies and “The Boss” understood that many of the answers he was looking for were found by talking with his employees. If I could depart one lesson to the business owners I have worked with over the years it would be, “Look inside your organization for the answers to your questions and the solutions to your challenges.” That is where I find most of my answers when I begin to work with a company. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) can and most times will relate to greater profits, they are worth the investment on the front end.