A lot of work goes into starting a business. There’s planning and projecting. Managing and marketing. You’ve identified your brand personality and decided how you want your customers to feel when they interact with you. Now that you’ve defined the business you’re in, how will you make sure you’re delivering a consistent experience?
Whatever your business, capturing how you’ll manage moving forward is an important step, especially as you add members to your team.
Outline how you’ll run your business with a governance plan.
A governance plan captures the rules and processes for how things will be done. For example, how will decisions be made and who will be accountable for making them.
Having a plan may not seem like a big deal, if you’re the lead in a small business, but as the company grows and the responsibilities are shared with more people, it’s a good idea to capture expectations. Everyone will have their own ideas of how the business should be run and changes they’d like to make. Leaving these decisions to anyone who wants to make them will not only create confusion, but will also have an impact on your brand consistency.
Spell out your purpose and brand expectations
When writing a plan, I like to start with the purpose of the plan to remind me of why it’s important.
My purpose reads like this: The purpose of this plan is to help deliver a consistent brand experience while focusing on meeting our business goals.
The way your team performs should mirror the way you’ve defined your brand. If your brand characteristics are caring and friendly, then you’ll expect your team to approach each customer in a caring and friendly way. Your brand may dictate a certain way of doing things — greeting each office visitor with a glass of water or coffee or responding to messages within 24-hours. Whatever it is, spell it out in your plan.
Roles, rules and accountabilities
Think about including a list of the individuals in your business who play key roles. The list may look something like this:
- President or CEO — provides direction on the overall operation of the company, including financial and client relations, marketing strategy and messaging.
- Team manager — leads operations team, including scheduling of shifts and performance management.
- Office clerk — processes company invoices, runs payroll, maintains files.
- Reception — provides quality customer service, answers phones, greets visitors.
Map out processes your team should follow
As the business grows, so do the areas of responsibility. That’s why clarity on your business processes is important.
When a team member works overtime, what’s the process to submit the overtime, approve it and have it paid? If someone needs to purchase a new part for a service call, can they do that on their own, or do they need approval first? Is there a limit to the cost of the piece they want to buy or a specific brand they should use? How much can they spend before they need to get approval from someone higher up? And, who is that ‘higher up’? What’s the reimbursement process? What paperwork should they keep… the list goes on.
More information, please
You might also consider capturing reference documents your team can refer to and where to find them. Depending on your business, this might include the latest building codes, local bylaws, training materials or even contact lists.
Your governance plan is one way you’ll help build a consistent brand. Keep this document, handy and up-to-date. And, most of all, share it with your team!