Dave Meadows and Mike Sovie are co-founders of ColdCallRX, a provider of outsourced cold-calling and lead generation services based in Tampa Bay, Fla., that they started in 2020.
One way they’ve positioned their company to scale up is by creating standard operating procedures, or SOPs. Entrepreneurs use these documents to describe how they do things in the business—whether it’s answering a customer service call or entering information into a database—so it is easier to train new hires.
Some later find that when they sell the business, having SOPs in place makes it more attractive to potential buyers, who know they can step into ownership without confusion about how to keep things running smoothly. “A business that can operate without the owner day-to-day is worth way more than a business that requires the owner,” says Sovie, who has a background in pharma, where many processes are standardized in this way.
In the case of ColdCallRX, the SOPs consist of simple video clips of each task, along with written instructions. “If someone has a question, you can send them a quick video,” says Sovie.
ColdCall RX has organized the SOPs into a playbook, which has a table of contents for all of its SOPs, covering topics like client onboarding, software systems and training, and virtual assistant management support and training.
The company also shares a “best practices” SOP with its clients to help them get the most out of the relationship, offering guidance on scenarios like what to do if they get a call from a key contact at a company ColdCallRX has been pitching on their behalf. “We are an extension of their sales team,” says Meadows.
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So how do you create SOPs for your own business? I turned to Carrie Wulf, an operations expert and self-described “SOP geek” at Wulden Professional Solutions in Wallingford, Ct., for advice.
“In the last year there has been an uptick—people are realizing they need to put these procedures in place,” she says. “They want to start taking vacations. People are realizing I can give my assistant this library of SOPs and they will know exactly what they need to do and how it should be done.”
Here are three tips to start applying today.
1. Consider all types of learners. Some people learn best from a video. Others do better when learning from an audio recording or a written document. Your SOPs will be most successful if you create them in several formats. “Whenever I’m writing an SOP, I include a link for a video walk-through,” she says.
2. Consider every single step. Someone should be able to follow the SOP even if they’ve never worked for your business before. “My goal when I write SOPs is to be able to hand that document over to someone how has never performed that task before, so they can do it following the SOP as it’s written,” says Wulf.
3. Make it easy on yourself. Wulf uses a video messaging tool called Loom to talk through and record the steps of each process. If you opt to use it, she suggests recording yourself with a Zoom screen share.
Ultimately, SOPs are a simple tool. However, they can make a real difference if you want to grow your business—and enjoy the fruits of your labor.