Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Best Practices For Event Pros
Guest speaker, Cam Petty, of Render Co. shares with us: What's an SOP? Why do I need one? How do I create one? Learn the rules that she followed to grow her event business to seven figures, train her staff, and plan for— and achieve— her long term goals.
Webinar Transcription - Cam Petty, CEO & Founder of Render
Karen Gordon: All right, it is three 'o clock here on the East Coast and it looks like I have got Cam joining now. Cam, can you hear me?
Cam Petty: I can hear you.
Karen: Awesome, I can't see you yet. Oh, here we go. Here you are.
Cam: Hey, how are you?
Cam: I am good. How are you?
Karen: Good. It has been quite the day we've had the best users, been very interactive, really appreciate for you being, fighting in the chat, asking questions in the Q & A. I am excited for you sharing next.
Cam: I am excited. Here we go. I can talk about SOPs.
Karen: All right, my fav. I am going to go ahead. I unshared my screenshare. If you want to share yours, you can. I do want to let everyone know that I'll be monitoring chats. Go ahead and chat things in, and I can answer how you would do things specifically in Goodshuffle as Cam is describing them.
Then I will also take questions specifically for Cam so that when we get to the Q&A part at the end, I can fill this to you. By all means, Cam Petty, owner of Render.co, please take it away.
Cam: All right. Hey, guys. How are you all? I'm so excited to be here today. For those who don't know me, I'm going to tell you a little bit about myself. Hopefully, you can resonate with maybe some stuff that I'm going to talk about today.
I'm Cam. I am the owner of Render Events, Render.co here in Dallas, Texas. There's a few people from Dallas here. Today, it's a gloomy day out, but it's OK. I've got my big lights here and I'm excited to present today.
For those who don't know, I have an online course called Rental Biz Academy and a podcast for Rental professionals called "The Render" podcast. We put out episodes every single week on Wednesdays, so tomorrow at 5:00 AM Central, there'll another episode. I'm excited about tomorrow. It'll be good.
I'm also a single mom to two littles. I've got a six‑year‑old boy named Brody and a three‑year‑old girl named Brylee. They're super fun. Brylee is getting into that three‑year‑old stage, which is always a joy for those who know [laughs] about three‑year‑olds.
I also have a Golden Retriever pup who's eight years old named Rush and yes, after the '80s Rock Band, Rush. I grew up on it and so that's his name, and he fits it for sure. I mentioned that I'm the owner of Render Events.
I also have two other companies, Render Educate and Render Interiors. We do interior design, we do rentals, floral, event design, under Render Events and then I have Render Educate which is where my podcast online course. I have my mastermind in membership for rental professionals as well. That's all under Render Educate.
It's a fine business that I've owned. I started in 2010 doing wedding planning. That's where my background started was wedding planning. The coordinating side of things, that's part of what I do. That's my gem. I love coordinating stuff.
In 2012, I had a client who was a lawyer at that time who said, "You know what? I've all this stuff..." For those of you who are in business back in 2012, you know that it was heavy DIY. People are going to Pinterest, in the Etsy, and they were getting all these DIY stuff. Think burlap and lace, amazing jars, twine wrapped bottles, and all of things.
She had DIYed all these décor. Afterwards she said, "You know what? I'm super busy, I'm a lawyer, I don't have time to go and sell all of these or keep all of these things. Do you want them? I'm sure you have other clients." I said, "Yes, I do. I've so many clients who wants the same stuff. Sure I'll take them on and get it off her hands.
That's what kick started my love for rentals. From 2012 to today, we are still doing rentals. We've just integrated more services on those between our interior design at brand, our floral, event design, and now education as well for rental professionals like yourself. That's a little bit background. There's a lot of details to tell my story, but those are just a few and quick ones.
I am in enneagram three. If you know about enneagram threes, you might know that I've got high energy for my students. I don't know if any of my students are here, but if you are, would you please say something in the chat. I want to say hi to you. For those who know me and follow me on Instagram, or anything like that, I'm super high energy.
My team would probably tell you on a daily basis that if I had a rate or if they had a rate for my energy level from 1 to 10, they would say I'm at 20, almost all the time. You're going to get some of that today through the way I'm talking to you, to the way I've been explaining things. I'm going to give you lots of examples and I'm excited to get into it with you all.
You guys have probably been here all day. We got another day tomorrow, which we're excited about as well. You're going to take a look at our warehouse tomorrow morning. I don't know if that was a secret or not, Karen, but spoiler alert if it was.
Karen: No secrets.
Cam: [laughs] OK. You're going to see my warehouse tomorrow. I'm excited to show you. Hopefully, Karen you got a laugh out of similar things that we said in our video. I want to introduce to you something that we do here on my team. It's going to probably play into my enneagram number a little bit.
I'm going to ask you to get uncomfortable for just a quick second, for 30 seconds. I'm going to ask you to get uncomfortable. You might be totally in on this thing that I'm about to show you or you might be totally out.
This is what we're going to do. You've been sitting in your chair probably all day, and you might need a little energy. I'm going to introduce this thing to you. It's called a five, four, three, two, one trick.
On my team here usually once a day maybe every other day depending on how other days look like, some of my team will call out five, four, three, two, one, and then we dance it out like crazy. It gets our energy up.
Because we're talking about SOPs and it can sometimes be a little bit of a boring topic, we're going to get our energy and we're going to get excited. I'm going to ask you to take out some notebook and some pens so that we can write some of this down.
First, I want us to get our energy level up. Cool? Good travel team. Are you on board or are you off board?
Karen: I am so excited. I have been wanting to dance.
Cam: Good. I love to dance. It's one of my favorite things I have dance sessions in my car on the way to work and on the way home. If you're not into it then you can just sit and watch me dance or judge me, I don't care but we're going to do it. Get ready.
Don't stand up yet. Sit in your chair and as soon as I call out five, four, three, two, one then we're going to get up, all right? Here we go. Five, four, three, two, one.
Cam: Anyone do it with me? Karen, did you do it, or is that the only way...
Karen: Yeah, I did.
Cam: I'm out of breath for a second. I hope that was fun for someone in the audience. That's what we do on my team. You're welcome. You've now been introduced to my team.
Now that I'm catching my breath a little bit because that was fun. I'm going to start this by telling you a little story, and I want you to think of yourself in this story for a second. Here's the story. It's called a bus‑test story and you may have heard this before.
I did not create this story. I'm sharing the story because I've heard it, and it really made a difference when it came to our SOPs. For those who don't know what an SOP is, it's called a standard operating procedure. It's the way that you do what you do.
It's the how on what you do. Step‑by‑step procedure on what you do. Sorry, I'm out of breath. [laughs]
Here's the bus‑test story. A bus test is where you, as the owner, as the runner of your business, whatever your position is that you decide someday you're going to take a walk. You going to take a walk through your neighborhood. You take a walk across the street, and you start walking and a bus hits you and you are gone.
You're in the hospital. Maybe you survived, maybe you don't, but you are hit by a bus. That's the bus test. If you were hit by a bus and your business is reliant on you. Your business and your tests are relying on you and nobody else knows how to do what you do. What happens?
Are you set up in your business? Is your business set up in a way that if you were hit by a bus tomorrow, that your business would still sustain, your business would still be there and be around? Would you be able to hand off this business to somebody else to be able to run for you if you were in the hospital for three weeks or four weeks or a year recovering from this bus hitting you?
I know you might have been thinking that I had an acronym for this like B‑U‑S or something, but no. It's literally a bus hits you, you're in the hospital, you don't make it. What happens to your business?
If you thought about that, if you can picture yourself in that position, and you say, "My business wouldn't survive," or maybe it might survive for a month or two, but then it doesn't because nobody knows what to do. Maybe somebody else has to come in, take it over, and it is a completely different business.
If that's you, then I want you to listen up. The thing that I'll tell you right now is bring out a notebook and a pen, if you haven't already. The thing that I tell you right now is bring out a notebook and a pen, if you haven't already.
You are five times more likely to remember something if you write it down. I want you to write down the things that you want to retain and you want to remember. I just talked about an SOP. SOP is a standard operating procedure.
In Webster's dictionary, say that it's an established or pre‑subscribed method to a followed routine for the performance of designated operations or in a designated situation. That's a lot of words.
I'm going to give you a different definition. The definition of an SOP, standard operating procedure, is the how you do what you do. Simple, it's how you do what you do.
It's a guideline. It's a clear path. It's a set expectation that says, ''Here's what we do. Now, follow what we do.'' All right? It's the how on what you do what you do.
Chris Hogan, if anyone is familiar with Chris Hogan, he's one of my favorite educators to follow. He talks a lot about servant leadership, he talks a lot about small business, and how we run our small businesses.
He's out of the Ramsey network. He has a lot of the Ramsey principles and core values that he holds as well. I love the Ramsey network, I think it's great.
This is something that he says all the time. He says, ''If you don't have clear expectations, you're giving your team the only option, which is to fail.'' You are only giving your option to your team to fail, if you don't have clear expectations. The way that we have clear expectations, and how we do what we do through SOP, it's their standard operating procedure.
When you think about a standard operating procedure, it's just the standard. It's the bottom line of what's expected. You can certainly do more than what's in your SOP, but this is the base. This is the very minimum of what you expect to happen within whatever task you were doing.
We're going to talk about what requires an SOP in a little bit. This idea about an SOP, it's the bottom line, this is the minimum work that needs to be done. We're going to give some examples of what this looks like and how we put these together in just a little bit. I want to remind you, this is just the baseline. You can do more.
If you do something more than three times ‑‑ a quick note ‑‑ the same exact task. For example, if you email the same thing to three different people, you might change their name and the location or something requires an SOP. Three times that you do the same exact thing needs an SOP.
Before we had SOPs, we were a hot mess. We discuss things over and over and over again on how we did what we did. We would remind ourselves, "Oh, wait, what do we do again?" A client reach out, wait, what do we do again?
We were hot mess. We talked about all the time, and we couldn't retain the information because it was here. It wasn't on our computers. It wasn't on paper. It wasn't anywhere that we could say, ''Hey, the answers and the SOP was here.''
Any new employee we had, they had to ask me how we did what we did or they had asked Kaylee's who's been on my team for over three years. ''Hey, Kaylee, how do we do this one thing?''
Discussing it over and over, not only is it a waste of time, but it also costs more in payroll. You're taking away whatever that person is doing away from the task, away from their job and their role of what they do to answer our question.
We've been writing and we've been reviewing this process for the last eight years and it continues to evolve and change. This is another thing that you need to keep in mind that when you create these SOPs, which are going to be I'm going to tell you what types of SOPs and forms that you're going to create these in.
When you create these SOPs, they're not set there to stay the same way, the day that you make them. They're not meant to stay the same way the day that you make them. They're meant to change. They're meant to evolve.
If we learned anything from 2020, it's that we can't be too comfortable in what is set. That we need to be able to flex, we need to be able to make different decisions when they're needed. When you make these, make sure that you keep in mind, hey, these can change at any point, if they need to change. You don't want to change them too often.
You do want to have the option there that if it needs to change it needs to change. What exactly is an SOP? Legit, what is it? It's going to be in a few different types of forms. You can have photo SOPs, you can have video SOPs, you can have typed out document SOPs, and multiple different forms of how you can create these.
We're going to talk about each of those. Photos as an SOP, these could be either supporting documents or literally the SOP itself, based on what you're using it for. This is really great, if you need to show something.
If it is more than typing something out, if you need to say, let's say for example, Goodshuffle Pro, you're in there, and you need to show exactly how you type an email to a client within the client communication tab.
If you need to show exactly what you are going to write, you might take a photo or screenshot of that and put it in your SOP. It's a how we do what. I would say videos are probably more common than photos. A video is it also needs more than typing something out.
If you need to show in Goodshuffle, how to put together a quote, for a new employee, instead of having them reach out to each other, or go find these documents, you can have some internal way that you do it. Let's say you put in the client first, and then you put in the venue second, then you update the project name.
You put all those dropdowns, then you start working on the photo, or maybe you do all those things, and you start to work on the notes before you work on the quote. There's so many different ways that we can do this and you have a specific way of how you want to done needs an SOP and ease an expectation.
If you have this thing, and you're, "I expect you to change the project date every time," and "I expect you to put this in," "I expect this and I expect this," if you don't have an SOP for it, they won't know. If you tell them once, they still won't know. They need to have it written down.
You might have a video of showing yourself doing this. You're talking over the venue, you're saying, "All right. The very first thing that we're going to do with this quote is we're going to type in their name. It might be something that you can pull up, meaning they've rented from you before, but here's what we're going to do."
You explain it out through a video, you put that video on YouTube, and Vimeo and Dropbox, so many different places for organization, which at the end, we're going to talk about organization and where you actually store these things.
For now, we're going to talk about what types of SOPs we're going to create. You've got photos, you got videos. The step‑by‑step tutorials of showing something that's going to require a video.
Typed out documents are probably going to be the most common thing. This is going to be, typed into a Word document or a Google Docs document or somewhere on line that someone can pull that up quickly. You might also print those out and put them in binders for your team. We're going to talk about that in a little bit as well.
An overview, it could be in binders, and it should also be somewhere online. The world is moving online. If you're not online, if you don't have these online, move in online.
What else can our SOPs involve? They can involve your software as your logins. Most people probably have more than just Goodshuffle Pro. You probably have an email login. You might use Slack. You might use Google Drive. There's so many things that we all use for our companies.
Having some place that "Hey, here's where the software's are and here's the login stage of the softwares." That's really good to happen in SOP as well. Again, this is a step‑by‑step of what you do, how you do it. This needs to be very specific.
What things should have an SOP? Let's give some examples of what should have an SOP. If you have questions along the way, I've got the chatbox up there. If I need to expand on something more, please tell me.
Otherwise, I'm going to do some Q&A at the very end of this. Hold your questions if you have specific questions, or put them in the chat or the Q&A box. The things that require an SOP that I would recommend having for sure at the very minimum, having are going to be these.
Obviously, if you are in the events industry, or you are using Goodshuffle Pro, you probably do some deliveries. You're probably getting in your truck or getting in. You're probably getting in your truck, or getting in some vehicle and going somewhere. That should require an SOP.
You're going to talk about in that SOP, how are you going to load up your trucks or trailers or cars or whatever vehicle you're using. How are you going to load those up? Are you going to call? Are you going to text? Are you going to send a message somehow to the client, letting them know you're coming?
What about when you get on site? What are you going to do on site? How are you going to do your delivery? What are you going to do first? What are you going to look at? What tools or supplies do you need? You're going to go through this whole process and you're going to walk step‑by‑step.
How am I doing this thing called a delivery? Pickup, so when you go back to pick it up, it might be very similar to the delivery but you still need an SOP to show, hey, what do we do on a pickup.
If you have crew that only does pick up, the crew that only does delivery that they have a specific set of rules and expectations of how this thing is done.
Communication with clients, there should be an SOP as well. There's likely some emails that you send that are either very similar or the exact same and every time. If you are responding to a first time inquiry, probably have a very similar set of communication that you send to that person and the other person that is inquiring with you.
When you are confirming all those logistics for the event, there's probably a very similar way that you're communicating with them. Having a communication with your clients as an SOP is really great. We have this through our canned emails.
We have all those in an SOP, any marketing efforts. If you use Instagram or Pinterest or LinkedIn or YouTube, there's so many freaking social media platforms out there and marketing platforms.
If you use any marketing platform, if you do any marketing efforts, which you should be doing if you're not doing already, and those require some SOPs, how do you do that? How do you plan for that? How do you know what to post and what caption to use and hashtags and all those things, SOP, putting SOP together for that.
Your sales process, your internal and your external sales, we call this either hunting for a sale, or you're fostering a sale. If you're hunting, I feel that means you're externally going out and finding a sale. That could be through networking events. It could be through grabbing coffee with planners.
It could be through so many different ways. If you're externally going out and hunting a sale, this is going to need its own process. How do you do that? What is the way that you do that? What communication that you use with them? How do you find that?
Internally, if you're just getting an internal inquiry, so through your website, or your wish list, if you're using the Goodshuffle Pro API. So many different ways that people can inquire with you, it might even be through social media.
What is the sales process look like when they come internally, and when you go out externally to go find a sale? Training documents is a great SOP as well. Every position on your team, you probably trained very similar. If I had a salesperson that I trained, if I hired another salesperson, I'm probably going to train them very similarly.
You want to create some SOP around this. We have, in my opinion, a great hiring process of how we do our hiring and our training. We call it the Render University. When you join our team, you go through Render University. We have 101, 102, 103, 104, 105. That's your first week. You're going to go into his first freshman classes through that.
Then the next week, you're going to go through 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, super fun. Maybe I'll do another talk on that with Goodshuffle Pro another time. You want these training documents to have an SOP. You probably trained people very similarly. You want to make sure you're not leaving things out.
The other thing is a fulfillment. Not only is it when you are getting a sale for a client, but you also are going out and delivering it, but what happens in between?
When they book with you, and you actually go out and deliver that, what happens there? Are you're going to communicate with them? Is there any logistics that needs to be taken care of? You might want to do that.
There's so many ways that you can do an SOP. Those are just some very quick ones for rental or something specifically. In force can you same thing as well, if you're a florist or a DJ company, but you might have some additional things that you do in your business.
Obviously, we have an education platform. It adds a piece from the education platform for our podcasts and for Instagram lives, when we go live and things like that. You just want to make sure that everything that you do, the step‑by‑step process of how you do something has an SOP.
Karen: How are we going to put this together?
Cam: There's a few things that I need you to know whether you're a solopreneur, or you're part of a team that you need to know first, before you set out to actually do these. I'm going to talk to you as a solopreneur, and I talk to you as a team member of how to put these together.
Before you do this, no matter what you are, who you are in your business, I want you to first define your why. Why do you do what you do? It's always important to remember what our why is.
When we go out to do marketing, when we got to do training, when we go out to do anything. In my team, we have six core values that we hold very tightly. Every week on Monday mornings, when I have our team meeting, we recite these core values every single week.
Anytime that we have a big team meeting, when we do training meetings, we reset our SOP and [laughs] we recite our core values. The very first thing I want you to do before you go set out to do these SOPs, or go revise your SOPs, define your why.
It's very important to remember why are you doing what you do, and reset those intentions. The second thing that you're going to want to do, is you're going to want to think about how do you want your customers and your team to feel on the other side of this SOP?
Do you want them to feel more knowledgeable? Do you want them to feel valued? Do you want them to feel cared for? This also goes more for not only the customer, the paying client, but more than just a paying client?
What about the mother of the bride? What about the planner? What about the other vendors? What about any other companies that are associated with this? You want to think about it from everyone's perspective.
Anyone who's experiencing your company at any point, during the time of your bookings and all the way through post‑event. How do you want your team, your customers and additional people, how do you want them to feel?
Define what that means before you set out to do the SOPs. Then I want you to think about this from two different perspectives when we are creating these. First is, "What is the intention, and how can we be more intentional through every single piece, every single step that we go through in this SOP?"
The second thing is, how can we anticipate what might throw us off? Intention and anticipation, those are the two things that you need to keep top of mind when you're going through these SOPs.
For those who are solopreneurs, I know that there's probably quite a few of you solopreneurs who are here today, we're going to talk about how do you put these together when you don't have a team to help you put them together.
The first thing that I recommend to my solopreneurs is, have a friend come in and shadow everything you do for a week or a day or however long it takes, have them shadow what you do and write everything down.
Have them transcribe when you're going to email someone, what is it that you do to email them? When you go to make a quote for someone, what are you doing to do that? Have someone come in as a third eye to see what you're doing and write these things down.
Anytime that you do something, if you go write an email, or if you go create a quote, or if you go do anything, really anything in your business, just go ahead and write that down on a SOParate document as you're doing it.
Have the second document maybe up all the time on your computer and say you're going to go write a email to someone, you're going to think, what am I doing? How am I going to do this? What mindset am I in?
What do I need to tell them? I'm going to go make an SOP for this. Then the other option I have for you for solopreneurs is, take a week to focus on these. Just figure out some time, make some time to put these SOPs together.
It's very important. You might be thinking, I'm a solopreneur, I don't have anyone else who I need to show these expectations to. Why do I need to do them? Well, because at some point, you're probably going to hire someone.
Usually that's the plan. Every Rental company I've talked to, I've 260 students in my Rental Biz Academy, every single one of them, whether they've started, they haven't started, they're so ignorant, they have a team, whoever they are, they plan to hire someone at some point.
I recommend you doing it before you hire. As a solopreneur, figure out some time to do it. I did not make SOP before I hired. I will tell you right now, I'll be the first one to tell you, I did not make SOPs before I hired and I regret it.
I actually bought a course on how to hire and inside of that course it told me I need to make SOPs before I hired and I never carved out the time to do it. I always figured, "I'm too busy. I'm too busy. I'm too busy."
I have all these things to do and I'm a solopreneur. I'm doing all the things right now. During a pandemic would be a great time to do these SOPs. You're probably not as busy as other people or you're probably not as busy as other times in your business.
It's a great time to put together these SOPs. Remember, you can change these SOPs. If you're brand new in business, or if you're only in year one or two of business, you can change your SOPs but get it down on paper. It's easier to change them than it is to create them. Just get them done.
What if you're a part of a team or you run a team, you're the leader of your business. How can we actually create these SOPs? One option is you can have each team member write their own SOPs. I'm a part of a networking association called NACE, National Association of Catering and Events.
Goodshuffle Pro is actually a national partner of them. We love seeing them every time that we do a NACE thing. In NACE, I'm a board member of it. Here in DFW, this year, I'm over community service but a few years ago, when I joined the board, we had to do our own SOPs for our position on the board.
It was tough to do in our first year doing it. I didn't know what I was doing, but put these SOPs together. Now every single year, we tweak them a little bit based on the position, how we handle that position. You could do the same thing where each team member is going to write their own SOPs. You can also do it as a team.
Have a big team meeting, maybe it lasts a couple days or a couple weeks. You put these SOPs together and weigh in on what happens. There's overlap of Kaylee does it one way and I do it another way. Let's wrap those together and see how we can do it better.
We did this in 2018 as a team and we've revised them every single year during our annual planning meeting every December. Like I said, it's easier to do it, get it done and set a time every year to come back and revise those, and change them.
I mentioned that I want you to anticipate every time that you are putting these SOPs together. What do I mean by anticipate? We all know that things don't always go to plan. This happens all the time. Nothing is perfect 100 percent of the time. We hope that is. We try to make it perfect as much as possible, but sometimes things happen.
For example, a couple of years ago, probably close to five or six years ago, I went out to go do a deliveries when I saw the norm. Showed up in my warehouse, hooked up the truck and trailer, set out, got everything loaded, and realized that the...what's the cap that goes over the tires, that thing came off, and it was laying on the tires.
If I were to drive, that would come off. Thankfully, at the time, I was right across the street from a truck company that fixed trucks. I was like, "Hey, I need some help. I need someone to just like reattach this for me." They were able to do that.
I don't currently live close to someone who can do that for me. Now we have in our SOPs. Hey, we're going to anticipate something not going according to plan. Your trucks might have issues, you might have tires that go flat overnight, a battery that goes bad, inventory that breaks, you might double book something accidentally.
Whatever that looks like, there's going to be something that throws you off. It would be naive of you to tell yourself, "Nothing will ever go wrong. It'll always be this way and it'll be perfect every time." That would be naive. That would be foolish of us to think that. We want to anticipate before something does actually throw us off.
Instead of reacting to something, and figuring it out on spot, which usually we're pretty good at doing, let's make it a plan and anticipate what might happen ahead of time. I'm going to give you two examples here. The first example is something that we're actually dealing with in real‑time.
Here in Dallas, it's usually pretty good weather. In fact, Karen and I did a live, I don't know, a week ago, two weeks ago, or something. It was 75 degrees, sunny. It was beautiful. It was amazing. This week, it is supposed to snow on Saturday. It's supposed to be freezing cold. It's supposed to be ending the high 25 degrees, which is very odd for Dallas, Texas.
This week, it's supposed to be cold, rainy, could be some ice, could be some snow. The snow won't last, I guarantee. It's probably going to leave within an hour. Nonetheless, we're going to have some weather issues happening. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you probably know that there's rain. Rain plan could happen at any given moment.
We want to anticipate whether that might throw us off. Here's a very real example of how we anticipate weather throwing us off. Weather comes up. We have three options of what we're going to do. If we look it up, when we say, it's going to snow on Saturday.
First of all, we're going to assess the weather. We're going to see, "What is the inclement weather that's happening during the event or before the event, or after the event?" based on our schedule, and when we're delivering and all that.
We want to contact the client and see what rain plan they had or what snow plan they have or whatever plan they have already, because we don't want to necessarily make our own plan if they already have one. We want to check with the planner first.
If there's no rain plan, if the planner says, "Oh, we thought it was going to be great," which happened a few years ago, and it totally got rained out. We're going to help come up with a solution, we're going to say, "Hey, what if we rent a tent? Or what if we move everything inside? Or what are some things that we can help assess and assist with when it comes to creating this rain plan or snow plan."
If the client refuses to create a solution, we're going to send an inclement weather waiver and have them sign off on it. I'm literally telling you exactly what we do. Contact the planner. If there's no rain plan, we try to help put together rain plan.
If they don't want to use a rain plan, we have what's called an inclement weather waiver that they're going to sign before we can. The inclement weather surrounding the event, so if it doesn't happen during the event, and the planner on‑site, or someone on site is like, "Hey, it's fine, we're good, no big deal, we're going to continue going how we are."
Whether it's icy before we come or it's icy late at night, or something is going to prevent us from doing our job well, we want to assess the conditions of the road. Do we need to put chains on tires, we need to have a different transportation.
Maybe we don't take a big box truck that has two‑wheel drive or front‑wheel drive because here in Dallas, [laughs] there's not a lot of four‑wheel‑drive here. Do we need to have maybe a four‑wheel‑drive truck and have different transportation?
Maybe we need a different route, maybe it's going to be rainy, it's going to flood out some roads that are we're supposed to take on the way there. Maybe we need to figure out a different route.
The second option that we can do with this is we need to add a buffer into the schedule. If there's going to be snow on Saturday, like this weekend. Perhaps we create some sort of a plan that says, "OK, crew, instead of coming in at 12:00 PM. Why don't you guys come in at 11:00 AM?" We make sure that we have plenty of time to get there in case we have to go slower.
Then the third is we just want to communicate with our client. Every single time that anything changes, we want to make sure we're communicating with that client. That's a real‑time example of how we've anticipated weather happening and what we, as a team, are going to do to overcome that.
Another example that you may have experienced in your own business is inventory is damaged. Hate it when that happens. When you go to go get the thing off the rack, you go get your chair, your plate, whatever it is that you're getting, pull it off the rack, it's damaged. I hate it when that happens.
What are we going to do when that happens? We can't be naive again. We can't say, "It's never going to happen, my inventory's going to be perfect 100 per cent of the time." There's going to be a chance that it might not.
The first option is, can we pull the same inventory to stock and replace that item? Do we have more of that that we can just go ahead and pull that, without conflicting other orders? Can we replace it with a similar inventory?
If you're a DJ for example, and you have a very specific speaker that you're supposed to bring and the client requested this certain speaker because it has the loudest sound. I know nothing about speakers. I could be totally making this up, but just go with me here.
The client specifically wants this one speaker and it's broken, you have none to replace it. Or can we find something similar to it and just communicate with the client, "Hey, there's an issue that came up, we've picked something very similar and we're going to bring this."
When we do this, if we're going to replace it with the same item or replace it with something similar, we do need to make sure that we check with Goodshuffle, our software, to make sure that that item is not being used on another item.
This especially is true when you have...perhaps you've been in a situation like this where you have 20 events on one single weekend. You have lots of overlap that might happen. We have to make sure that Goodshuffle is telling us, "Hey, are we good to actually take this item, or does it need to go out later today?"
The other option is, "Can we source it at another rental company?" Let's say for example I have a few pieces out my back that I know for a fact that other rental companies very close to me have as well.
If it's damaged, if there's nothing to replace it with if that one can't go out, can I call up my other rental company friends and say, "Hey girl, I actually need to rent that other thing, do you have that available? Can I rent that from you for today because I have something that's damaged?"
The other option ‑‑ we always need to do this ‑‑ is we're going to contact the client and let him know what our solution is. If they're like, "Yes, great. This is a very great option." We're going to send the item, but we're also going to bring a second option. Again, we need to check with Goodshuffle to make sure that we can actually bring that other option and make sure that's coming there.
We're also going to make a note at the venue, what the client actually chose on the paper. We're going to make sure that we're communicating with our client. If the client says, "Nope, that doesn't work for me, I don't want that. I want to make sure that I get exactly what I paid for and what I'm expecting," then continue to try to source and as a last stage effort, you might have to refund that person.
Again, we're anticipating some issues that might come up, to make sure that we are good to go with that. I want you to think of some scenarios, and see what could go wrong in your company. Then I want to plan ahead for that and make a plan for that, before it actually happens, all right?
When it comes to training, I know that some of you might be thinking, "My team will never do this. They'll never do this. They've been working for me forever, they'll never go according to SOP. They're just going to do what they've always been doing."
I'm going to give you two options here. You have either new employees or you have existing employees. For the new employees, you're going to make the expectation that you need to follow this plan. This is how we do what we do. You need to follow that. They don't know any differences. It's all good.
For your existing employees, if you get to a situation where you're like, "They'll never, ever go, according to this. They're going to do what they've always been doing." Tell them that, "Hey, this is the new standard way that we're going to do things."
"You might recognize that there's some similarities and to how we've always done things, and what these SOP say, but I want you to make sure that we're going to go, according to this." You are probably the leader of your company, you might be the boss of your company. They need to respect what you're saying.
Have a training day with them. This is something that we did when we started our SOPs and anytime that we revised our SOPs. We put together this training day with our team.
There's been people on my team that worked with me for five years. They would probably say, "Look, I've been doing the same thing for this whole time. It works out great. Why would I change what I'm doing?"
I told them, "Hey, this what we're doing. We want to have a big Training Day, make sure everyone's on the same page." Refer back to it weekly. Make sure that you're calling them accountable to it, and then have some follow‑up trainings.
What we do is, we do one big training every year to make sure that, "Hey, any SOPs we had this last year, here's some changes that may have happened. We're going to train you on that again."
Then maybe you have quarterly or every six months, you come back and you say, "Alright, hey, how's it going and where are we at? Do we need change anything? And let's do a mini‑training day again."
Make sure that your managers, anyone who's representing your team out there, are doing it. They're keeping everyone accountable as well. I'll tell you a quick story when it comes to this. Uniforms and how we show up is in our SOPs. We want to make sure that we're all dressed similarly. I provide uniforms to my team.
I sometimes will make surprise visits to some of my deliveries. There was, gosh, probably about a year ago in February last year before the pandemic hit. We did an event and I showed up on the delivery. It was "Hey, guys, I was just in the area, figure I popped by." I noticed that one of my team members was out of uniform.
Our uniform is usually black shorts or black golf pants with, a black polo, and either black jacket, black hat, black shoes, black socks. We want to make sure that we are just in the background and not making too much noise with our uniforms.
That's just our brand and how we do things that might not be a brand, that's totally fine. That's our brand. I showed up and this one guy he was in jeans with a black polo and black everything else. I said, "Hey. I'm not going to say anything because there are some people here from Dallas and I don't want you to know who it is."
I said to him, "Hey, you're out of uniform. You know that we have black shorts, and black pants, and I just want to give you a friendly reminder that you are going to need to make sure that you change before your next stop and get back into uniform."
I kept them accountable to that. It never happened again. I called him out and he realized, "OK, yeah you're right, I'm not in uniform." I also in team meetings, we have a team meeting every Monday, I always ask specific questions of the SOP, I know the SOP very well.
I don't usually have to refer back to it. I'll just say, "Hey, are we texting a client every time that we are leaving, going to the location?" In real time they can tell me exactly what we are doing. They're just checking in to make sure that they're actually doing it. Keep them accountable to it.
If you just put it out there once and leave them alone with it, it's hard to tell if they're actually doing it. You want to make sure that you're keeping them accountable to it. How does this SOP thing integrate with Goodshuffle?
You could likely have a way that you use Goodshuffle. I'm sure that some of you use Goodshuffle maybe a little bit differently than I use Goodshuffle. I've actually popped in here a couple times and there are some things that I have learned about Goodshuffle, so thanks for putting that on.
Must you have taken our online course Rental Biz Academy, you might do it a very different from us. If you took our course you would probably do it very similar to us because you train a little bit here and there.
If you are using Goodshuffle Pro and you need to use our SOPs, you probably have a step‑by‑step way that you doing things. Your sales process, you're booking process, your fulfillment process.
You should have an SOP that shows exactly what you do because if you're hiring someone new they probably don't know what Good Shuffle Pro is unless they've used it before.
Even if they used it before you probably have a different way that you're using it, so to make sure that you have an SOP that shows exactly how you're using Goodshuffle Pro and everything else in your business.
The last thing that we're going to talk about is organization. Where are you going to store all these things? Your videos, your photos, your typed up documents, and anything that you use in your business.
The first option is going to be Google Drive or Dropbox, those are really great storage options. You want to make sure it's somewhere that anyone can access it on your team, just share a link with them and pull it up. I can usually pull up my SOPs on my phone and be able to quickly get to them if I need to.
You want to make sure that it's easily accessible and Google Drive and Dropbox is a great option for that.
If you have videos you might be able to embed those straight into your documents but otherwise, for example, we have YouTube channels that we do some of our education on, and we have some sub YouTube channels where we're just going to put those SOPs on there.
We have an education YouTube channel that we put all our education SOP videos on, our events channel where we put all of our events SOPs on, and so on and so forth. YouTube or Vimeo is a great option to host those videos if you don't want to host them in your Drive or Dropbox that can take up some storage.
Printing them out and having binders in a specific spot in the office, here is where the SOPs are, that's a great option to have. Or having binders with those SOPs at a specific location wherever that task is done.
Maybe you have one that is all deliveries and pick‑ups, maybe store that in your trucks. You have multiple binders for multiple trucks you put them out there, or maybe in your warehouse.
Maybe they're in a specific office like if you have a big team. I've seen teams you have sales human office, marketing team office, so you put those in those places.
Those are just some quick organization tools for you. I have a couple things I want to share with you, let me share my screen here. I have our SOP bundle that I would love to share with you guys. Let's see. OK. Share.
Let me see if I put this in full screen. We have our SOP bundle template. We do charge this. This is a template that we've created. It has every single SOP that we have in our business and you are welcome to check it out. These are QR codes. If you take your phone and you hold it up there, it should scan it and pull right up.
For showing up today and being a part of this summit, you could use the code 'Good Summit' for 15 percent off of that bundle. We'd love to share that with you. I'll keep that up for a second. The other thing I mentioned at the very beginning of this, we have a podcast for rental professionals. Our podcast is called The Render Podcast. It's available on Apple or Spotify.
If you use that QR code, that will pull up the podcast. Tomorrow will be 45 episodes. A lot of the episodes are very specific on rental procedures and how you do what you do. Check out The Render Podcast. We'd love to have you as a listener.
If you guys have anything that you guys want to hear, choose the DM on Instagram, and we'll put together an episode for you. Lastly, if you want to get in touch with us on social media or our website, here's some links there.
You're welcome to email me any questions that you might have after hearing this chat about SOPs at [email protected] Follow us on Instagram, and our website is up there as well.
I am happy to answer any questions that might come up. I'll toggle between some of these slides so you can get those QR codes again if you'd like.
Karen: Awesome. Thank you so much, Cam. This is wonderful. If people have questions, please feel free to send us in the Q&A. Feel free to send us a chat. Someone is asking for the code again for the discount on your standard operating procedures bundle, if you want to put that up. A couple things I want to mention. Some notes I took during the session if that's all right.
Karen: You mentioned this idea of mixing together standard operating procedures and Goodshuffle which I just love. We talk about how Goodshuffle can do work for you in terms of training folks. That's not to say that you don't also need a standard operating procedure.
So one of the things I was making a note on is the reason they go so hand in hand is, let's say, you talk about backup plans in relation to weather and things like that. We've been mentioning a lot of things like alternates and packages and these kinds of inventory components to the software.
One of the things I think is a great example is, it's much easier just give someone a standard operating procedure that says, "If there is an item with a conflict, check the messaging tab." OK? That's specific. That's not, "Check when's the last time I worked with this client." Now, where do I look for that? Do I look in email? Do I slack someone?
You're just going to immediately get a million questions. "Click the blue if there's a conflict, check if it's not signed yet. Blue. Then click on that project. Open the messaging tab."
Making it very specific but then also making it easy of, "If you know that the conflict exists and it can't be replaced, click on alternates and see if an alternate is available." Rather than saying, "Here are the alternates for every item in the inventory."
Karen: Again, they have to retext you. They have to slack you. However you communicate on your team. When you create a half‑baked SOP, you're not really helping that much. They're just going to say like, "What does step number three mean?"
If you say very specifically what's in the software or you swap it for an alternate, and the alternate is already built into the software, then you can keep it nice and tight and clear and clean, and use SOPs for what they are for, which is to not get harassed with [inaudible 49:22].
Cam: Right. You have these SOPs. Like I said at the very beginning, it's the how you do what you do. So if you're super specific and you say, "This is exactly what I do in each of these situations." Especially when you're anticipating, you're going to reduce the amount of slack messages, text messages, phone calls.
Before we had SOPs, we had some lamps that were rented out for a wedding. I would get the question all the time, "Hey, where the light bulbs? I can't find the light bulbs. Where are my extension cords? They're in the warehouse, what do you mean?"
So we put an SOP together and said, "OK, if you have pieces that have additional units that go with it, like light bulbs, or extension cords or anything else. Here's where you can find where it is. Go to the [inaudible 50:09] and see it in the drop‑down, or go to this specific spot in the warehouse that has literally anything that you have that you know that you might get a question on, put in an SOP.
Karen: That's a great example of another thing with a passionate about both, in terms of Goodshuffle, getting your Goodshuffle Pro account set up really well but also getting things like this in order.
The number one thing we hear from people is, "I don't have time. You don't understand, I'm so busy. I don't have time to sit down and create a standard operating procedure. I don't have time to enter each of my components of attempt as a package," which just crushes me because this is to free up your time.
Yes, it takes a little bit of extra time on the front end. Yes, I am probably suggesting you take one of your days off and do this or take a late night working. Who here wouldn't want to take one late night working to save hours [laughs] and hours for the rest of their lives?
I am all about that. I'd much rather sit and do the hard work of creating an operating procedure at creating a better program with my software system so that I can save. Even sometimes, fractions of a second each day add up fractions of a minute. That's not bad. It's really not to take your time, it's to save your time.
Cam: Well, there are certain times that when we didn't have SOPs. I had to leave my son's soccer game early to go help out and go answer a call. When my daughter, she had a little recital for Christmas and someone was like, "Hey, I can't find this," or, "This thing is damaged. What else do I say?"
I'd have to step out to go answer the phone to do something. So not only is it going to save you time, and payroll later on but it's going to save you from maybe some of those family events that you want to be a part of. Some of those soccer games that your kids are going to have or Christmas recitals from school.
Having SOPs is a guaranteed way that you're not going to have to answer the question in the middle of a soccer game that you really want to be in.
Karen: Right. It's funny. That also makes me think of another thing I wanted to mention. You talked about the bus theory, which I've heard before. I actually do have to say since getting hit by a bus, it's pretty dark. I had a boss once.
Maybe not my favorite boss, but I'll give him credit for one thing. He called it the Tuba Camp theory. He would say, "What happens if you go off to Tuba Camp? A little lighter than the bus theory." [laughs]
Cam: [inaudible 52:33]
Karen: [inaudible 52:34]
Cam: You get COVID, and you have to be [inaudible 52:39] for weeks. That might be a little bit more realistic. [laughs]
Karen: Yeah. If you're going to dark places. We're going to keep a clean camp. Maybe we can have something cuter later.
Cam: [inaudible 52:51] so I don't get it now. [laughs]
Karen: Maybe it's something really great. You get all expenses paid. They came here to Hawaii, and then what? I remember, when I first learned this from that boss about the Tuba Camp, Hawaii, whatever it may be, I was really young in my career.
I remember feeling like, "I want to be important. I don't want to be able to go away and things keep running because, what if I lose my job?" I think sometimes even business owners can feel that, right? Like, "Well, I'm so valuable that they need to ask me a question."
As time went on I realized that the things that you can automate, those are not the things, those are not the things that are going to get you job guarantees. That's not impressive.
Needing to know where the labels are in the warehouse, anyone can know that. It's not hard. Obviously, you should be providing significantly more valuable things to your business.
Your knowledge of events. Your creativity. Your ability to rally a team together. Your ability to always even anticipate traffic and weather and get things to places on time.
Whatever it is, there are more unique things that you're bringing to your company. Things that can be automated. Things that can have a process to them. Those aren't the things that are going to get you job security because that's what technology is built to do.
Thinking about the Tuba camp, yes, everyone should miss you. Everyone shouldn't like having you around and think that you're part of the team, but the day‑to‑day process stuff, that shouldn't be your secret sauce in your career.
Cam: I'll also add that, if you ever want to go sell your company at one point, maybe that's in your long‑term plan. Maybe it's five years from now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 50 years from now, you want to sell your company. Or you want to hand it down to a loved one, like a child of yours or something like that.
If you want to get rid of your company at some point, other than just selling everything off and closing down. If you want to sell your company, and I'm talking about this from someone who has bought out two rental companies before. SOPs and having how you do what you do is only something that's going to add value to your company.
It's only going to add value, because you're literally handing off, "Hey, here's how I do what I do." Instead of just saying, "All right, good luck, have fun. See you later. Call me if you need anything. Or don't call me at all [laughs] because I don't want to be involved."
It's something that you can hand off and say, "Hey, here's what I do and now you're going to have a template. You're going to have a very clear picture on how I do what I do." That's also another good reason to have that.
Cam: That might be [inaudible 55:24] copy, but...
Karen: You and I have bought a company that said, "Oh, well, this company only works if we've got Jordan running the warehouse. [laughs] Trust me, because everything else is a mess." It's great that Jordan's so great, but I don't want to be committed to having to also hire this guy I don't know.
Karen: You want to make sure that this process is seamless. Inventory looks great. You may also have some people you want to recommend hiring but that shouldn't be the only [laughs] thing keeping the whole thing together.
Cam: The two companies that I bought out, I bought out one company in 2016, and then I bought another company in 2018. Neither of them had SOPs. When I inherited all their clients, because they had clients while they were selling, they didn't just not have any client, they had clients. The first company had 35 booked contracts or something.
Then the second one had 11 that they had to fulfill. We inherited all those. We didn't know what the communication style was like. We didn't know what their emails looked like prior to. We didn't know how they communicate with their client, or what expectations they set up with their client.
Had I known that we would have bypassed a lot of maybe some sticky points and some frustrations that we may have had when it came to the clients. They signed a contract, agreed to whatever their process was. We inherited them. Then now, they're stuck in this new process without me having any knowledge of what they were expecting.
Even if you're buying out another company at some point, I've had quite a few DMs over the years. It's like, "Hey, you bought out someone? How can I buy out someone. You're welcome to reach out to me if you'd like to." If I would have had that I would have made that transition with those clients a whole lot easier after?
Karen: Thank you again, Cam, so much for taking the time for sharing your knowledge with us really. We really appreciate it. We got a lot of people cutting in, some people saying they're excited about the course that they're taking with you or have taken with you, some people about the templates.
Obviously, there's a wonderful episode of the podcast with yours truly, if you're not totally sick of hearing my voice after the next few days. Thank you again. I really appreciate your time and your expertise.
Cam: Yes, of course. I'm excited to be here to share all that with you guys.
Karen: Awesome. Thanks again and we will see you shortly again.
Cam: All right, see you.