Does Your Small Business Need an Employee Manual? – Rory Vaden

Rory Vaden, New York Times Best Selling Author of Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success, talks employee manuals, compliance, and leveraging local media to create trust.

Check out more interviews with small business leaders

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Joe Gumm: He’s a New York Times bestselling author of the book Take the Stairs. He is a contributor here to ASBN and we always appreciate Rory Vaden, the co-founder of Southwestern Consulting, joining us and giving us some great content about small business. Thank you, Rory.

Rory Vaden: Hey, Joe. We love small business owners so it’s a privilege to be here. We love you guys and so we’re honored to be back. Thank you.

Joe Gumm: We appreciate you taking the time. Someone out there watching us right now, Rory, wants to know does my small business need an employee manual? If they do, what does that entail?

Rory Vaden: Yeah. I think in general the answer is yes. You should work to have manuals. Now, I would say when you’re a small business owner, survival is the first focus, and I would not rank the employee manual high on the list of survival. When you are able to operate consistently and you’re able to pay the bills and your revenues hopefully start to scale a little bit, that’s the time where you go back and you should create a manual.

Now, what I would say is the predominance or the primary reason for having a manual is to have a training manual, not to have a manual of your policies and procedures although that is good and that’s important and you could have that, but the real magic for a small business owner is to document all of the procedures related to every function of your business. One of the reasons why is because we talk a lot …

Actually, I did a TED Talk called How to Multiply Time and I have a new book coming out called Multiply your Time. One of the things that we look there is we say that automation is to your time exactly what compounding interest is to your money. Automation is to your time what compounding interest is to your money. Automation isn’t just technology. Automation is anytime you create a process today, it saves you time tomorrow. Anytime you create documentation today, it saves you time tomorrow because people don’t have to come to you to ask you what should be done or how should it be done because you have it documented, and I think that’s one of the biggest, the single greatest differences between small business owners that survive and scale and those that don’t. The ones that survive and thrive and scale, they create documented processes and it gives them a way to automate the growth of their business because the business becomes less dependent on you, the owner.

Joe Gumm: Rory, when we walk into a small business, I guess for me it feels a lot more comfortable knowing, hey, there’s a compliance certificate right there. There is a piece of paper here at this restaurant that gives the grade of the health inspection. I like seeing that type of thing. Small business owners are wondering do we need to make that available, put it online, shadowbox it, put it up in our storefront, put it in a frame? What would you say to those people who want to be compliant but also let the public know, “Hey, we are compliant. Here are our certificates, our monthly certificates,” or whatever they are that are needed.

Rory Vaden: Yeah, that’s such a good question, Joe. Here’s the big principle you need to understand. Perception is reality. When it comes to doing business with a person or a company, perception is reality. The answer is an emphatic yes. Whatever you have that displays your credibility, your authority, your integrity, your honesty, your commitment to values and service, those are things that you should proudly and broadly display wherever you can.

Rory Vaden: One other piece about this that I want to highlight because the restaurant is a great one, the score from the health inspector, those kinds of things are great to display, but one of the things that you can do, especially maybe you’re in an industry that either doesn’t have a lot of recognized designations or maybe you’re a new business and you haven’t been around long enough to achieve all of these things is you can leverage media, local media. Too many companies underestimate the value of getting their business or their executives profiled in local or even national news media outlets. If you were featured in The New York Times or you were featured in the local business journal or if you were featured in just the local town paper, that means something.

Rory Vaden: Here is what is so crazy. Most small business owners, to them media is a mystery. They think, “Oh, my gosh. How do you ever get media? How do you ever get to be on a TV show? How do you ever get covered in the newspaper? How would you ever get invited to be on that podcast or whatever?” Well, it’s actually pretty simple. In most of the cases, you ask. That’s it. You ask. You reach out to these outlets and you ask. You might think to yourself, “Really? They’re not going to listen to me. They’re not going to take me.” All that is limiting beliefs.

Rory Vaden: Here’s the truth about media channels and media outlets. They need something to report on. They need content which means they need you more than you need them. All you have to do is reach out. Let them know that you’re available. Tell them what’s going on. Especially if you’re brand new, media is one of the best things because a lot of media outlets like to cover the new business in town, the new leader, the restaurant opening up or the new promotion or whatever. Make sure that in addition to the certifications, the inspections, the certificates, the professional designations, that you also leverage the power of local media.

Joe Gumm: Well, I’m glad you mentioned that about the media because there can be your big town media like Atlanta or let’s say a Dallas or let’s say a Denver. Then there can be a smaller type media, the local newspaper, the mom and pop that’s still there. You show up to a barbecue weekend and there’s a thousand people and you’re wondering, “What in the world? How did these people get here?” For those who mock it, the small town appeal, what would you say to them?

Rory Vaden: Oh, the small town is where it’s at. Too many times with things like media, people swing for the fence and they go, “Well, I want to be on Oprah or I don’t want to be on anything.” That’s not really what the purpose is here. The purpose is to demonstrate some level of trust and reliability and credibility. Most of the time, especially when you’re starting out, long before I was ever on national TV, I was featured in the local small town paper, really, really small. But you start where you are. You do what you can and then you build from there.

Rory Vaden: Look, it’s not even so much the reputation of the media outlet that you’re featured in, although at some level that becomes really valuable. The point is you just want to show that you’re credible enough and reliable enough and trustworthy enough to be featured in something because the fact is the average person doesn’t delineate or know the difference really. They have no idea what the circulation is of that magazine or that podcast or that TV show. Go where you can win. Be a big fish in a small pond first when it comes to media and then, as you start to build up those assets, you’re building up a reputation, more and more people see you, you’ve got more and more articles, more and more stuff online talking about how great you are, then that makes it easier for the bigger outlets to feature you because they say, “Oh, this person isn’t a risk because they’ve already been featured in this, this and this.” Just start where you are and do what you can.