When it comes to business, you can never be too prepared.
Having a ‘wet weather game plan’ for all areas of your business is important: whether it’s pre-empting quiet periods, negotiating contracts with a new supplier, or dealing with your staff – consistency is key.
Taking the time to create policy and procedure documents for your business will be a well-rewarded task in times of crisis. Whilst paperwork may seem like your last priority in the frantic early days of business, it could make the difference to your survival further down the track.
In this blog, we’ll talk about the importance of policy documents, when they will come in need, and how you can create them.
But, if you want to save yourself hundreds of dollars with a consultant and hours of time Googling, we actually have a whole pack ready for you to download now – no hassle.
Why policy documents are worth your time
It can be easy to fall into the trap of believing that most behaviour comes down to ‘common sense’. However, sometimes interactions with your staff, suppliers or even customers will leave you questioning if you’re on the same page when it comes to professionalism and general courtesy.
Lawyer Richard Edwards works with Whites Legal, and has many years’ experience working with hospitality business owners on their policy documents. He says these documents remind people they are ‘visible’ at all times – and should behave accordingly.
“There’s still the possibility in the hospitality business for employers to get caught up in the personal life of their employees,” says Richard, adding that having a policy can add a layer of separation between the two.
Policy and procedure documents will be your method of staying on top of emotionally fuelled situations. With all employees needing to read and sign off on these documents before commencing work, it will be your insurance against the future of your company.
When you will need policy documents – and how to use them
Putting your policy and procedure documents into use won’t always be in times of crisis. They can ensure that any new onboarding with suppliers and staff are consistent, or certain activities are not left to chance, such as closing the store, where crucial steps may be missed. They say structure sets you free, and if you want a well-functioning business, then this is what policies and procedures achieve.
Here are some common examples of where policy documents are needed:
- Sourcing or signing on a new supplier
- Contacting VIP members of the business
- On-boarding new employees
- End of day cleaning procedures
- Taking customer complaints
- Communicating via social media
- Opening and closing the store
All successful business owners will tell you they have a policy document for just about everything in their business. It eradicates doubt around how to deal with a situation, and helps the team avoid arguments about the right or wrong way to do things.
Using a policy document can be either passive, or reactive. In the passive sense, you might simply display policy documents like ‘how to wash your hands’, or ‘your rights as an employee’ around the kitchen and locker rooms. In a reactive sense, you will have to put the policy document into action.
Usually, this will come as a reaction to a disagreement. Your policy document – which is essentially your set of ‘rules’ for the venue – will resolve an argument. This may be around inappropriate handling of a situation, or a disagreement about who was right.
How to get started drafting your own
When creating a policy document, it’s important to remember that there’s no one way of going about it. There is no standard template for all hospitality businesses to use, and nor should there be – each business owner is going to have a varied perspective on how things should be run.
Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself before drafting up a document:
- What is the ideal outcome from the situation being discussed?
- What do you want/hope/need to avoid?
- What is a fair reward/ punishment for the situation being discussed?
- What training or education could be necessary?
- What third parties could/should be necessary to implementing this policy? [E.g. law enforcement]
Keeping your documents concise and easy-to-understand is going to be important. Use language that both you and your staff understand implicitly, and make sure that you have a candid discussion before anyone signs. These aren’t just legal documents – they are practical instructions on how to run the business.
Practical examples you can use today
Here are some Profitable Hospitality created policy documents that you may find useful when creating your own. To download any of these documents, simply sign up to our members area today.
Creating company policies can seem like a scary prospect. But far from the legally-binding arrangement they may seem, a policy document can actually be pretty straightforward.
Do your research, and then really think about what rules you believe need to be in place for your business to remain successful and authentic.