Employee Manual or Procedure Manual?
Many businesses have employee manuals. An employee manual is a legal document that explains the features and benefits of being an employee with your company. It also lets your employees know what is expected of them.
A procedure manual is something very different.
I discovered the value of having a procedure manual after reading "The E-Myth Revisited."
I've had an employee manual for about 20 years. My current employee manual I purchased from www.RLOConnor.com and have been extremely happy with it. Your employee manual should not be used for day-to-day operations. This is not what it is designed for. Normally, a new employee will read it when they are first hired and then seldom ever look at it again.
A procedure manual is designed to be a reference guide for day-to-day operations. A properly designed procedure manual will increase customer satisfaction, increase hourly (non-commission) employee productivity and reduce warranty and comebacks.
Each employee should have his or her own procedure manual. I have a procedure manual for my technicians, my service advisers, my office helper and my utility person. I also have more detailed procedure manual documents for:
• Closing procedures
• Stocking parts
• Coupons and Discounts
• Service Definitions (i.e., what is an oil leak vs. oil seep)
• Rental Car Policy
Before I had a procedure manual, I found myself handling customers and employee situations differently, depending on what mood I was in that day. I was micromanaging my employees, which took a tremendous amount of my time and energy.
My adviser and technician procedure manuals are designed to have a "checks and balances" system to prevent customer comebacks. My technicians know that if they don't follow the procedure manual, that I won't pay them warranty for a comeback. For example, if a customer comes in with a leaking radiator hose, the technician procedure manual states the technician must recommend that all hoses should be replaced. The advisor procedure manual states if they sell one hose, they must also recommend that the rest of the hoses be replaced. If the technician does not recommend replacing the rest of the hoses and the customer comes back with another leaking hose, I do not pay the technician to replace the second hose. The adviser is also held accountable for not recommending additional hoses.
Each procedure manual page has a date on it. Every time the page is updated, a new date is entered and a new copy is given to the appropriate employee.
Unlike an employee manual, a procedure manual is a living document designed to be changed and updated often. The last line of my service adviser procedure manual states:
"If you are not able to make a customer happy using the above procedures, then T.J. must be contacted."
Since I completed my procedure manuals, my employees are happier, my customers are happier, I've reduced my warranty expenses and I seldom, if ever, get phone calls from my employees when I am not in the shop.
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