When we provide a service or product, we do so with the hopes that everyone we do business with is satisfied and acts with integrity, but that’s not always the case. That’s where policies come into place, even if you don’t sell online. Having policies in place protects you when there are disagreements or issues during your transactions. While the types of policies you utilize will differ, ALL types of business should have some sort of dispute policy. How are you prepared to handle a customer that isn’t satisfied with their experience doing business with you? Reputation is everything, and in this age of social media and expose culture it only takes one person with the right audience to sink your business. By having a set policy in place, no matter what a person says, you have documentation to fall back on in your defense. This doesn’t mean disgruntled customers won’t happen, but it’s more profession to direct any snowballed attention to your documented policies and procedures, than going back and forth with a customer.
Having a place where all of your policies and procedures can be viewed online can be easily overlooked. If you sell from an online website, you can easily create a policy page on your existing website. There are website places that create generic policy outlines that you can tweak to fit your needs. If you provide services or sell without a website, I still recommend having a basic web page. This way you can have the services you offer and more information to basic questions you are asked often, along with all your policies. Just be mindful to be professional when referring people to your website. If you don’t want to go that route, you can also create a frequently asked questions (FAQ) and policy document for your social media or however you do business. I highly recommend having a digital copy posted somewhere if you make transactions without face to face contact.
When I made my policy for my store the first launch, I went to other websites that sell similar products and read their policies. Make sure you check out a few with different traffic levels and audiences. It gives you a better perspective of the types of questions people may ask or look for on your website. You can also learn how to word your policies so they’re clear and courteous. If you offer services, you can still learn a thing or two from checking out other websites that provide similar services. You can see how other people regulate their booking, time frames, and deposits. The most helpful for me was dealing with faulty products. It does happen, and you want to be prepared beforehand. Also for services, make sure you have something that outlines what happens if a customer isn’t satisfied before, during, or after their service, and for response time windows.
Another way policies are helpful, they set the guidelines for how your business operates. If you’re running a 1 man show, things can get hectic. When you have set guidelines, you create consistency for yourself in all situations. You know the time frames you’re working with day to day, so you can prioritize how things are done, and create windows in your schedule. It also makes it easier to delegate tasks if and when you decide to bring on team members. If for whatever reason you need someone else to handle your business affairs, they have a consistent standard to work with. We all go into business for different reasons, but it’s extremely helpful to not have to spend every second micromanaging everything because there’s a lack of structure.
I hope this was helpful and gave you a few ideas. Be sure to check with your local laws when making your policies. It’s also good to have someone else look over your policies to find any holes or discrepancies you may have missed. Be on the lookout for more tips I picked up along the way and more in depth information from business coaches I’ve personally used.