It can be difficult to carve out the time or attention required to create and document SOPs in your event rental business. Besides the fact that many businesses don’t have standard or repeatable ways that they do the same tasks, they also face opposition from existing staff that doesn’t want to be trained a particular way or “micro-managed.” Nevertheless, the financial benefits of SOPs alone should motivate any boutique event rental business to pursue this valuable activity. The investment now will pay dividends in the short- and long-term.
Use Less Expensive Staff
Documenting the process for packing dishware and loading a truck allows the tasks to be done by newer, less experienced, and less expensive staff members. When a procedure is documented and the method is clear, it can be executed by junior team members. Not only does this make the task itself cost less but those senior team members are now freed up to do other activities like generate revenue, create additional systems, or increase volume.
This principle applies to back-of-the-house operations in your rental business (warehouse staff, delivery crew, inventory management, etc.) and front-of-the-house staff (sales team, customer service, marketing, etc.) equally. The more documentation and training materials you have available, the easier it is for an untrained person to pick up the job and do it with excellence.
One of the biggest cost centers for event rental businesses is errors and damages. Whether physical damages to inventory, forgotten items for a rental order, or miscommunication between team members that leads to the wrong items being delivered, errors can add up to a lot of expenses for event rental businesses.
Having written (and/or video) SOPs can proactively prevent common errors by training staff how to handle items, wrap them, pack them, manage checklists, and thoroughly check orders and documentation. As errors occur, SOPs can be updated and revised to prevent that type of issue from happening again in the future.
The event rental industry is built on referrals. A planner or florist who likes working with your crew will sing your praises from the rooftops. If they like working with everyone on your well-trained SOP-following crew (not just the unicorn you happened to hire), they’ll sing from the mountaintops.
SOPs create consistency. Consistency creates referrals. Referrals create revenue.
Increase Average Order Size
If you want your sales team to touch base with every single customer two months before their event to see if they want to add a bar/lounge/arch/[insert new inventory piece here] to their order, how can you get them to do it every single time?
Routines and checklists aren’t just for physical labor. SOPs can transform each member of your team’s performance and help them remember their priorities— including increasing the average order size of your rentals.
Every event rental business should operate as if it is going to be for sale some day. Even if you never plan to sell, operating under this principle helps you develop the systems and discipline you need to optimize the value of your business— which is great for you no matter what.
And, if in the future, you happen to decide to sell your business, it will be much more valuable with a set of SOPs ready to hand over to the new owner. You’ll get a higher valuation and much less training time will be required of you in the transition.
Another way to think about the value of SOPs is to consider the franchise model. Even if you never will franchise (or even open a second location), think about building your SOPs as if you were because that’s one way to make sure they are clear, tight, and thorough.
Where to Start with SOPs
Now that you’re onboard with the idea that SOPs will save you money, I imagine you might be overwhelmed with where to begin. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:
- Video yourself (use screen recording or even your iPhone on a tripod) doing any tasks you know you’ll do more than once. Simply narrate what you’re doing along the way. You can use this as an SOP or later have it transcribed and use it as the starting point for written SOPs.
- Consider hiring a temporary employee just for SOPs. If you’re swamped and can’t imagine carving out the time yourself to create SOPs, consider hiring a virtual assistant or temporary employee to follow you and your team around for a couple weeks to document what each person does. Even if they don’t get it exactly right, you’ll have a rough draft to use as you refine your SOPs.
- Use a system like Guru to document your SOPs. Guru allows you to create cards for tasks, assign team members to verify the SOP is correct, and set future dates to recheck the SOP in case it needs to be updated.
We can’t wait to see how SOPs help you generate more revenue and reduce expenses in your event rental business!