Operating Procedure Manuals: The Final Word

Doing it by the book. That's what retailers are doing as they discover the benefits -- and necessity -- of utilizing a policy and procedure manual. Manuals contain specific information about many areas,
including: store operations, safety, loss prevention, receiving, customer service - and the list goes on. From taking out the trash to negotiating with vendors -- these retailer-specific documents make it easier for store managers to do their jobs. And it makes it easier for retailers to deliver consistent messages to the consumer. In fact, the use of a procedures manual ensures consistency throughout several areas of a retail chain, which yields numerous benefits -- from enhanced customer satisfaction to increased sales.

Overcoming Writer's Block
There are several warning signs that indicate a need for a policy and procedure manual-- many of which should spur your team into action. For example:
  • Payroll for specific functions varies from store to store
  • Levels of compliance differ from store to store
  • Store profits are impacted negatively by inconsistent practices
  • Customer relationships are adversely affected by inconsistent practices
  • Store emergencies are handled incorrectly and unprofessionally

Make it a Best Seller
Utilize several best practices to compose the most effective manual for your organization. For instance:
  • Every area of managing a store must be included
  • Managers and associates should not memorize each policy and procedure, but they must know how to reference the manual if an issue does arise
  • Avoid minute details, but include relevant information necessary for managing a specific procedure

The Final Chapter
Retailers are sure to realize benefits as a result of developing a policy and procedure manual. Specifically:
  • Sales and profits are enhanced
  • Customer satisfaction increases
  • Consistency is maintained from store to store
  • Expenses decrease
  • Business won't come to a halt because corporate offices are closed or a regional director is not available to assist with an issue

Case in Point
After assisting a retailer that was preparing to open a chain of stores. Developing a manual established guidelines to manage stores consistently. It also standardized the decision­making process during the planning phase to open stores.

For more information on this topic contact Pat Fitzpatrick at Atlanta Retail Consulting Inc