Episode #295: The Importance of Workflows and SOPs
TAYLOR BRADFORD: You are listening to episode number 295 of the Boss Girl Creative podcast. Today I’m talking about the importance of workflows and SOPs. On to the episode.
Hey, welcome to episode number 295. I am your host, Taylor Bradford. Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode. If you are new to the show, welcome. If you have been a listener for some time, I am so grateful for your ongoing support. And there are 294 episodes, if you are new, sitting in the back catalog. We are quickly approaching 300 episodes to the Boss Girl Creative podcast, so much to listen to. I know that can be super, super overwhelming. It’s super overwhelming to me to know that I have nearly recorded 300 episodes. In the sense of if I were to sit down and listen to them all again, that would be overwhelming. But, let me tell you, so if you go over to bossgirlcreative.com and click on the episode guide in the navigation bar, you will either find it has a drop-down menu in the mobile version of my website, or if you’re on desktop, it’s in the upper area of the website above the logo or really close to the logo. And click on that. And there are buttons that will show you how to filter the episodes based on the topic of the episode. So I have blogging episodes. I have business-related episodes. I have marketing. I have self-care. So the episodes are tagged based on the type of episode they are. And so, if you want to hunt and peck through the episodes, that is the easiest way to do it. And yeah, go to bossgirlcreative.com and click on the episode guide.
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And before I dive into these workflows, and these SOPs, which stands for standard operating procedures, I want to mention – so you guys heard me talk about my sales experience back in Episode Number 293. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to that episode, I hope that you do. I got super vulnerable. I don’t like sales, I’ve never liked sales, and I’m really trying to shift my mindset with that. And I had an experience with a friend of mine who needed – she was basically a man down at her bridal salon, and so I agreed to help her out and to sell – to basically become a bridal consultant for her for one sales opportunity. And I was, I was scared, I had a lot of fear. But you know what, like, I was like, I’m doing this for my friend, and I’m just gonna do it. And I – anyways, you have to listen to that episode to understand the full effect of what happened. It was life-changing for me. And then I also signed up for Maria Bayer’s Irresistible Selling, which started February 1st, which is the day I’m recording this, actually. But if you’re listening to this during the first week of February through Friday of this week, so Friday, the fifth, she reopened the doors during the first week of the program because of some inspiration she had in her own world. So anyways, if you are needing help with sales, and you want to sell without being salesy, which is me, and maybe you, then definitely send me a DM so I can connect you with her. DM me either @TaylorLBradford on Instagram or @BossGirlCreative. Either one of them will get to me. I will keep a hawk-eye on my DMs and the ‘other folder’ for anybody that’s interested and having a conversation with Maria to see if this is a good fit for you. She primarily works with wedding industry professionals, but there is a seamless line for creatives that sell a service or a product as well. And so I want to put you in contact with her to see if this program makes sense for you. And I’m sure you’re going to hear me talk about this more in the future, about sales because it truly is how you make money in business. You got to sell, and if you feel held back because you don’t want to sound salesy, or don’t sound smarmy and, but you know, you have a really awesome product, and it’s done well for itself, just because of how awesome it is but you need to get to that next level, you need help with your sales. And Maria can do that. I’m confident, and I haven’t even started a program yet. So if that says anything – that says a lot – so DM me through Instagram, @BossGirlCreative, or @TaylorLBradford, and I will connect you two because I’m ready for all the life-changing sales things to take Sugar Creek to the next level, which now seamlessly flows into what I’m talking about today, which is workflows and SOPs.
Again, SOP is standard operating procedure. And it’s basically – I’m going to start with SOPs first. SOPs are like outlines of common processes and things that you do in the course of your business. You can have an SOP for your sales process, for your customer experience for your in-person consultations, for a phone consultation, for your networking, for trade shows, for logistics like delivery, packing, shipping, for hiring, onboarding, operations, blog posts, social media, and your newsletter, interviews, billing, approvals, invoicing, etc. You can have an SOP for everything that you do, your common processes that you do in your business. I’m going to encourage you to do that.
And a really great book to help you out is Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz. He is the guy that wrote The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. Profit First, his most recent book that the Inner Circle book club is going to be starting after we get through Oversubscribed by Daniel Priestley, which has been life-changing. Add that one to your list. But his most recent book is Fix This Next, which is what we’re going to tackle next with the Inner Circle book club. But again, we’re still working through Oversubscribed, which will be another podcast episode at some point in the future—so many nuggets of wisdom out of that book. Like, I’ve made some amazing changes with Sugar Creek from that book. It’s crazy. It’s awesome crazy.
So SOPs, Clockwork, Mike Michalowicz. And he talks about basically making video SOPs, and that’s brilliant. And I’m going to go back and quickly talk about Episode 293, my sales episode because that is how I learned how to be a bridal consultant in less than 24 hours, based on how my friend wanted me to sell for her. That’s how powerful it was. 30 – she had 37 videos. I watched 34 of them because the other three dealt with second appointments, which I wasn’t going to come in contact with. I had one chance, and PS I sold the gown. I sold a gown. I got to ask, “Are you officially saying yes to the dress?” It was magical. Go back and listen to that episode.
Okay, moving on ‘cuz I will just keep talking about that. Mike Michalowicz, video SOPs. Like, if you don’t have SOPs, even if you’re a solopreneur. Like I have started my own SOPs because eventually, I want whomever I bring on to Team Sugar Creek to know exactly how I want them to do the things that I do. And the only way to replicate myself is through an SOP. And so, I’m going to encourage you to think about starting your own SOPs or going back and reviewing and revisiting your SOPs if you already have them. Like, let’s do that. We’re still in the first quarter of 2021. This is where we should be refining our systems and our processes anyway. We need to be reviewing what we did last year, what worked, what didn’t in our processes, and this is a perfect opportunity to do that.
Okay, so SOPs help you worry less. They help you delegate better. They help you spend more time working on your business rather than in your business. They are legitimately a complete step-by-step documentation of your processes. The benefits: helps you stay consistent. So every touchpoint is the same, no matter the person going through the thing or the process, or the product or service that’s being sold. Like, you get to stay consistent. Now obviously, the more humans that you bring onto your team, they have their own personalities, but as long as they stick to the SOP, you’ll be good. Like, let’s talk about flight attendants. They all have standard operating procedures to get you to learn about the safety features of an airplane, but they get to inject their personality to go through that boring stuff. And sometimes it is boring stuff. I mean, if you fly a lot, you hear that a lot. So anyways, it helps you stay consistent. Plus, it helps – as you bring people on – helps your people know exactly what to do in all scenarios. Because now, once you have created the SOP, that means you’ve already approved it, and you’ve tested it. So that in and of itself is going to provide you consistency.
Another benefit is predictability. We want to be predictable in our businesses on the backside. Now our customers won’t see that predictability, but our team will. So if this gets said, this happens. If this gets said, this happens. If a customer does this, then this happens. A task is done the same way each time because there’s a script or a checklist or a document that guides your people through it or guides you through it if you happen to forget your own process. SOPs make it extremely easy for you to onboard a new human or a new client because the process is there. So that’s another benefit; faster onboarding.
Another benefit is decreased time on your routine processes. How many times do you send a fax email out? How many times do you say the same thing to your clients or customers or to your staff? Like having an SOP just streamlines everything and really shortens the learning curve.
Another benefit to having SOPs is it will allow you to figure out when it’s time to automate something and/or when to fix it. So seeing something quote-unquote on paper, like legitimately analyzing step-by-step-by-step-by-step, you’re able to see if that thing can now become automated because you just work through every single step. Is there a tool out there, like a CRM, that will allow you to automate that thing?
So some tools for creating standard operating procedures. Obviously, you can use Google documents or Google spreadsheets. That’s a free resource. You can use Word or Pages, depending on what platform you’re running. Then there’s some paid options for you to create tasks or checklists or SOPs, whatever you want to do for your business. Paid ones are Trainual, T-R-A-I-N-U-A-L.com. SweetProcess.com. Pipefy.com. That’s P-I-P-E-F-Y, P-I-P-E-F-Y.com. CleverChecklist.com and Quip.com, Q-U-I-P.com. So those are some paid tools to help you out.
Alright, so how do we create an SOP? What is kind of like the template you need to create? Step one in your template is a title of the SOPs. Number two is the date of creation and/or the date of revision if you’re coming back to revise your SOP. Number three, the summary of the SOP and what it aims to do. Number four, list out the process steps – legitimately step-by-step-by-step-by-step. Number five, write a set of guidelines. So there are times when a customer or a client might do X, so you need to give your person that’s basically being a replication of yourself – like that might be an automatic thing that you think about, but it may not be an automatic thing that they think about. So create some guidelines for the framework of the SOP. Number six is to test a procedure. Literally, go through it step by step to make sure it’s clear. And then finally implementing your SOP. Step seven. That is how you create – that’s basically your template, your guide to creating SOPs.
Okay, so let’s slide over into workflows. Workflows just make your life easier. It allows you to automate some things. It also allows you to create those SOPs because once you create a workflow, that will be part of one of your SOPs, depending on what the workflow is for. So workflows help you prioritize, they help you make better decisions, they help you better serve your clients, and they help you create a clear plan of action in your business, which is awesome. Workflows can include setting up in an organized client process so that you can save time and serve your clients better, consistently.
So example, setting up a workflow for email and form templates, setting up a workflow for branded proposals, setting up a workflow for a wow-worthy client experience. Setting up a workflow for automating the things that need to be doing the heavy lifting, so you have time to do the other things that make a lot more sense for you to be doing versus emailing the same list of questions – or answers to the same list of questions that people ask all the time.
So workflows help you deal with tasks that take away or steal your time. They help you figure out the best tools to serve you and your clients. They provide you with the things you want them to do for you, a.k.a. that heavy lifting. They can also provide a framework for how your clients experience your brand and also a framework for how you want to feel managing your clients. So a few apps that can help you out with creating workflows would be Dubsado, which is what I personally use, HoneyBook and 17Hats. All three of them are considered client relationship managers, CRMs, but they each have ways to set up workflows. So basically, if this happens, it triggers this to happen. If this happens, it triggers this to happen. And while I’m not proficient in Dubsado with their workflows, I can walk you through what my processes are to help you start thinking about possibly your own workflows. And the more you can automate some of this stuff, obviously, the better. And – but some of it just can’t be automated. Some of it still has to be your touch, your touchpoint. So just take that into consideration. Like, I could set up a lot of this stuff to just automate, but my business has some nuances with Sugar Creek that I need it to be approved before it automates something else in the chain. Because I don’t want a client to get something sent to them that makes no sense for either their event or where they are in the chain of things, and that would probably be me having to hire a developer to create a workflow that made sense for a rental business.
So anyways, this is how I use Sugar Creek. I use Dubsado. That’s how I manage all of my clients. That’s where I do my proposals. That’s where I get payment. That’s where I do my contracts. It’s where I do my questionnaires. It’s – I have some lead capture forms in there. I use it to do everything. It tracks my money. I could use it more robustly than I’m currently using it, but I’m just going to keep using it as is, and then I will just continue to grow with it and add some more automation to it once I feel more comfortable in my own skin.
Also, all that to say, because I’m in Maria Bayer’s Irresistible Selling, some of this might change, so this is what it is right now as of this recording. So currently, with my sales process, an inquiry can come in three different ways through Sugar Creek, through my contact form through my contact page. Number two is by clicking a link that allows them to schedule a consult. And then number three is by submitting a wish list. So they can go through the inventory that’s listed on the website and create a wish list, answer some questions and submit it to me. So those are the three ways – well, they can, I guess four ways. Technically, they could pick up the phone and have a conversation with me. But I will always try to redirect them back to a scheduled appointment just because I need a way to set boundaries, and I need a way for the workflow that I’ve set to actually function.
So if they come in through my contact form – my contact form on my contact page for Sugar Creek is actually a Dubsado lead form – and so it, once they fill it out, it’s automatically creating a client within Dubsado for me. So once that happens, I can go in and create a project to attach to their contact information. And then, I can send them an email with next steps. And next steps are me getting them to schedule a phone consult or a warehouse consult before I ever send out a proposal to them. All right, if they come in by clicking a ‘schedule a consult’ button, which is also available on my website, which is awesome. I, again, that’s done through Dubsado, so it’s already created a) the actual consult appointment and b) a client lead in my system. So now all I have to do is go in there and create a project and attach it to their contact information/their appointment, and then review it, make sure they fill out the client questionnaire, and then my system will automate a two-day out message reminding them about their appointment. So that’s a workflow, and onwards we go.
And then finally, if they come in through my wish list, then I do have to manually go create a new client/project in Dubsado – which is not a big deal – and then I trigger the email to get them to schedule a consult and/or like whether it’s phone or warehouse consult.
Now recently, I took away pricing on my website. So the only pricing that you see is that I have a minimum rental order of $1,000 before delivery, and fees are calculated. And so I am trying to eliminate those that are outside of that that don’t want to rent that much from me, and then, basically, the communication stops. So in my first email back to them, where I’m trying to get them to schedule a consult, I also remind them of that fact that I do have a minimum of $1,000 – as of this recording – before delivery and fees are calculated, hoping that that weeds them out if they don’t want to spend that kind of money on their rentals. If they want to move forward, that’s awesome because that means that they are a potential ideal client for me. So that one email weeds out my non-ideal clients.
So I’ve made these decisions recently. So those are the three ways besides a phone call to start my sales process. So currently, I have recently stopped just willy-nilly sending out proposals. And I would send them out if they came in through a wish list, and boom, on they go. I’m not in this business for Sugar Creek to be a commodity. Even though I sell a commodity – you renting something for me as a commodity, but I don’t want to be an order-filler. I want to create a relationship with my clients, and in order for me to do that, I need to either get you on the phone or I need to get you in my warehouse. Preferably get you in my warehouse, but I can do it on the phone too, and then I can start building that relationship. I want to build a connection with every single one of my clients, and I want them to know that Sugar Creek is more than just weddings. We are gatherings. We are milestone moments. We are more than just weddings, and in order for me to get that across, I have to start the relationship right out of the gate because this is being driven by my core values. So again, I don’t want to be a commodity even though I am a commodity. I don’t want to be an order-filler. I want to be quality over quantity, even though I have a vast warehouse full of stuff.
So my Sugar Creek core values, that’s what’s driving this. Passion, fun, intentional, bringing the wow, relationships, experience, being authentic, and dreaming big. So that’s what is motivating this process. And I’m fairly certain it will probably stay very similar to this, even as I move forward through this sales program. But I know there are going to be some major tweaks, which I’m really excited about. But ultimately, I want to create that client experience and relationship, and it’s got to start at the very beginning.
So your ideal workflow has a clear start and endpoint. And then you’ve got to come up with every step that’s involved between that start and the end, and you’ve got to make sure that those steps will integrate properly into your workflow. But you also have to be mindful about anything that might indicate a step that’s contingent on additional info. So you heard me say awhile ago that there are some times I have workflows that run within Dubsado, but I have to approve them before I send them to the next thing automatically. Because if that client doesn’t need that thing, I don’t want the client getting that thing. So that’s the beauty of workflows. If there is information contingent on how they respond or information contingent on what they’re buying from you, you want to alert yourself to that “hey, does this workflow need to keep going, or are we at the end already?”
Workflows? Oh, my gosh, they can just help you streamline and not work harder. Like, not repeat the same task over and over and over. Like, create a workflow that gets automated that does that thing for you. That’s what workflows are all about. So I hope this has been helpful to you. That creating workflows is just going to help streamline you and get you working more efficiently and more organized and allow you to do the fun things in your business and allow something else to do the heavy lifting for you. That’s what it’s all about.
So yeah, that was a lot. And if you have questions, feel free to DM me on Instagram @BossGirlCreative or @TaylorLBradford. I’ll be happy to answer your questions. This was robust. I hope I didn’t confuse you. I hope I just gave you some tools to work with to help you get more streamlined so that you’re working on your business and not in it all the time. Yep.
Again, thank you so much for listening to today’s episode. I hope that it brought you maybe some clarity or some inspiration, or I really hope I didn’t overwhelm you by giving you more things to put on your to-do list, but I probably did. And we’re running businesses, right? Yeah. Anyways, so sometimes there is overwhelm. I feel it too. I feel you. Onwards we go. That’s the only direction we can go. That’s the only direction we want to go, I should clarify. That’s the only direction we want to go, right? Yes.
Okay, guys, thank you so much for tuning into today’s episode. If you want me to connect you with Maria Bayer with Irresistible Selling, DM me. I will connect you. You can have a conversation with her. And if you don’t make it happen this time around, I will have plenty to say about my experience, and then her next opening, I will make sure you know about it. But if you can get in now, this is definitely the time to get in because we’re starting, and it’s gonna be awesome. So again, DM me, I’ll connect you. Onwards we go. Until next time, I hope you have a great rest of your week.