Will they all quit if you put in Operating Manuals?
The short answer is, “No!”
The reason I say that is I did it at my own plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical company decades ago. We were a NYC Union shop and, we didn’t lose anyone.
And I know this is a fear of some contractors as I have done so many free 30-minute calls with prospective clients who would share this fear with me. To help, I’d share this following story.
One of my many different jobs at my very busy shop was being the Install Manager where I was running five Install Crews a day. Each morning, I’d setup the job files and debrief each Lead Installer on what to expect and let them know I’d make the rounds to check in on how things were going.
One day, I was talking to Bobby who had risen through the ranks to be one of our best installers. The great backstory is he was flipping pizzas when he first arrived as a willing but unskilled Apprentice. Anyway, I handed the file to Bobby and said, “Hey, I can’t get there at 10 AM today like I usually do but I’ll stop by around 2 PM. Look over the job folder and let me know if you’re good to go.”
He looked it over and gave me a thumbs up.
Two PM rolled around, and I went to the job where he was supposed to be installing a new heating system. As I walked around the basement, I was horrified at what I saw, and I was muttering all the four-letter words a nice NYC boy could muster. I told Bobby to meet me outside by his truck.
When he and I were standing by his truck away from the customer, I said, “This is nothing like what I wanted.”
Bobby replied, “Your brother, Richie, showed up and said do it this way.”
I came to realize we had no standard way of doing anything at our company!
Well, sometimes the worst thing becomes the best thing. The reason I say that is because Bobby and I had a very important conversation that not only helped the two of us but the whole company moving forward.
What we came to understand was that Bobby thought I would lay awake at night trying to figure out how to ruin his day. I, in turn, told Bobby that I thought he would lay awake at night trying to figure out how to ruin my day. And so, we learned that we can easily ruin each other’s day if we don’t have a set of known standards and a way to do all the work we did at the company which went way beyond just the install work.
This was one of the big motivators that convinced me that we needed Operating Manuals.
Move ahead in this story and we hired a professional industry writer to help us. We had the key staff from the most impacted departments in meetings helping us to create our Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for just about everything that we called the 80% standard and not the 20% oddball.
Came time to meet with the Union Representative for contract negotiations and I shared that the Operating Manuals need to be a part of these discussions. The Union Rep balked, but my shop’s union delegates (my employees) said, “This is going into our contract as it protects us, and it’s tied to how we move ahead at this company.”
It was amazing.
What I didn’t know was the employees had been talking amongst themselves and loved being involved in having a say in how they do their work. They loved that things were going to be objective (fact based) and no longer subjective (opinion based).
Bobby coined the famous line that everyone came to know, “Do what’s in the book, and you’re off the hook.”
I’ve got 19 years now of working with thousands of contractors in seminars, workshops, webinars, 1-to-1 consulting and now in my The 7-Power Contractor® Signature Operating Manuals System.
Here’s what I know beyond a doubt: the right employees will love your Operating Manuals, especially when you follow my lead on how to get Buy-In the right way, which is what I teach. This is because manuals are way more than just words on a page or a digital device.
This love of manuals with my clients is not the exception but more the rule. I actually have video testimonials from a bunch of staff at a garage door company who volunteered to… share with you how they feel about manuals today.
I’ve been up this trail of getting Operating Manuals into company culture a thousand times. Think of me as your virtual trail guide because I know what it takes to do it right so the customer wins, the company wins, the employees win so owners and management can win.
Is it possible some people might go? Maybe. But I know that they were on their way out, but you just didn’t know it. Putting in Operating Manuals showed that they were never really onboard. The great news is there are new people who will be attracted to your company because of Operating Manuals, and they will be the best employees you’ve ever had.