How to create an operations manual

An operations manual can act as a tool for training employees and empowers them to your business running smoothly when you are out of the office. Though it may seem like a lot of work, the effort put into your operations manual can save you money that could otherwise be wasted on mishandled procedures and employee training time.

Every operations manual is different so yours should be tailored to your specific business needs. You may want to create separate manuals for each department or job description in your company. Your operations manual should grow and change with your business so make sure to update the contents often. Store the manual in a sturdy binder with dividers to keep it organized, making it easy to update the contents and replace pages when processes change.

The following is a suggested list of topics to address in your manual:

  • Company Overview & History
  • Mission Statement
  • Opening Procedures
  • Closing Procedures
  • Cash Handling
  • Daily Tasks
  • Alarm System Operations
  • Safe Opening and Closing Procedures
  • Contact Numbers for Emergencies or Information
  • Employee Shift Coverage
  • Website Procedures
  • Customer Service Procedures
  • Sales Procedures
  • Sales Quotas
  • Commission Payments
  • Order Processing
  • Credit Card Processing
  • Refunds and Returns
  • Gift Certificates
  • Special Orders
  • Shipping & Receiving
  • Equipment Handling
  • Equipment Maintenance (replacing printer cartridges, receipt tape, etc.)
  • Security Procedures
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Product Pricing and Discounts
  • Other Miscellaneous Procedures and Anything Specific to the Way Your Business Operates
Teach training a group of employees in front of a whiteboard saying "Training"

Don’t forget to use your operations manual as a training tool for new hires. To make sure the information is accurate and valuable, ask your employees for feedback on the contents. Ask if they have questions about the topics covered and if the instructions are clear and easy to understand. Remember that this is a valuable business tool for you and your staff so keeping it current should be an important priority for your business.

About the author
Stephanie Chandler is an author, business advisor and owner of Book Lovers Bookstore in Sacramento ( and a popular website and newsletter for entrepreneurs ( is loaded with free industry information, small business resources and start-up information. In 2003 Chandler fled an 11-year career in the Silicon Valley to pursue her entrepreneurial and writing goals and she has never been happier.