How to update your operating manual

Writing and updating your standard operating procedures (SOP) manual may seem like a hassle but it will save you time and money.

Why should I bother?
Procedures are essential to create a smooth operation. An efficient manager should be able to leave the salon or spa without feeling that it’s falling apart. A folder with all your procedures will ensure that when you are away your colleagues can find everything they need to keep your business running smoothly. The SOP manual also helps you identify areas that might need attention. When was the last time you looked at the laundry procedure? Which suppliers do you use and could you find cheaper? What is the current recruitment procedure and can you implement a form for telephone interviews? The list goes on. This manual is also crucial in maintaining standards across your business should you ever wish to expand.

Where do I keep it?
Put your manual on your desk so you can easily access it to make amendments and updates when they’re needed. Think of it as a “live” folder. One salon owner told me she keeps everything in a folder on her computer. That’s fine as long as you know it is backed up, no one can delete anything from it and your team can also access it. For larger teams, a paper folder is strongly recommended. Who can access it? Everyone. There should be no secrets in your procedures, so encourage your team to look at and update the folder themselves when needed. It’s also a great tool to give to new employees. Below is the list of everything you should include in your manual. Chances are you have most of it written down somewhere already, it just needs to be put together.

Sections of the manual:
1. HR: absolutely everything to do with your staff policies from recruitment to grievance procedures to how to request holiday, and not forgetting your grooming guidelines or staff benefits.

2. Health and safety: the Government website is a great source of information. Whatever the size of your business, it will help you check what you need to do to stay within the law. Ensuring you are pro-active with your health and safety may be tedious but it will be beneficial in the long run.

3. Training procedures: this should cover things such as training indemnity, cost of training per treatment, training matrix, length or courses, as well as your induction programme for new staff members.

4. Cleaning procedures: contact number of the cleaners, days they come, cleaning expectations for each room and what staff are expected to do – be detailed.

5. Stock management: ordering and pricing process, stock book, monthly stock count and stock-loss report, merchandising expectations, delivery process and times, as well as testers implementation and cost.

6. Back office: everything to do with maintenance processes and contacts, warrantees and management of the appointment system. This includes procedures, training, defining the treatment menu, COG (cost of goods) and cost of treatments, protocols, marketing calendar, staff rota, security of spa, budgets, reports procedures, incentive log, office rules, refund and customer complaints procedures, to name a few. This will probably be your largest section as it will contain everything that you do behind the scenes.

7. Salon opening: your procedures and expectations of the team in the morning from the minute the doors open.

8. Spa closing: as above but for the evening. What does each team member need to check and complete before leaving for the day?

9. Reception: whether or not you have a team at reception, you can list your expectations about how staff should answer the phone, what to do with consultation forms and how to book an appointment.

10. Customer data file: where are they kept and how are they used?

11. Customer journey: defining the client journey is what will make the difference between a good experience and an excellent one. Be extremely detailed.

12. Treatment room set-up: include detail on what the rooms should look like, how they should be cleaned, and how amenities are stored and presented.

13. Reports: a list of all the reports that you expect staff to produce, including who is responsible for each and when they are due.

14. Networking procedures are also important to put on paper as you need to define how you want to approach contacts and what options you can offer for working together.

The more detailed you are, the more you are able to guide your team on the standards you hold in your salon. The point of your SOP manual is to give clear and consistent guidelines that will exceed your customers’ expectations, regardless of whether they are a new or returning guest.

Valerie Delforge is a spa and salon business consultant.