Operations Policies and Procedures

Operations management refers to the administration of business practices to create the highest level of efficiency possible within an organization. Operations management is concerned with converting materials and labor into goods and services as efficiently as possible to maximize the profit of an organization.

Policies and Procedures

What is a procedure?

A Procedure is a method for performing a task and is designed to describe Who, What, Where, When, and Why by means of establishing corporate accountability in support of a “policy”. The “How” is further documented by each organizational unit in the form of “Work Instructions” which aims to further support a procedure and in greater detail. For example, a health club facility which employs fitness instructors establishes a policy on how all overtime shall be approved. A procedure can be created to establish approving overtime (ranks, roles & responsibilities), “What” forms/systems need to be used, “Where” they are located, “When” overtime is applicable. And the “Why” refer to the management directive established via a “Policy”. The output of a procedures become input into a work instruction which is a set of operations which have to be executed in the same manner in order to achieve intended results under the same circumstances. (For example, in the latter example, the “what” [output of procedure] could be further broken down into a work instruction to describe “how” a manager/employee access the systems for approving/reviewing overtime.

What is a policy?

It is advisable that you have policies which govern course of action for events which may take place at the workplace. If for example a fitness club member cuts himself whilst training, the club will need to have a set of procedures (in a policy document), which sets out how to deal with the situation.

SOP’s (standard operating procedures) deal mostly with day to day procedures within a business i.e. usually comprise of a set of tasks which enable a person to complete the ultimate goal. The correct operation of a fitness facility requires the development and establishing of policies and procedures which govern the day-to-day functioning of every department. This includes:

• Staff Management and Development
• Facilities Management
• Member Management
• Financial Management.

A policies and procedures manual needs to be developed where are policy and procedure is easily accessible to every staff member.

Policy and Procedures (P & P) manual does several things.

• Tool to make the facility proactive rather than reactive
• Ensures that each employee knows their role in the facility
• Establishes company philosophy
• Give each employee a vision of companies’ goals

A single general P&P manual that covers every area of your business could be developed, or several specific manuals to deal with individual departments. For example, a Sales and Marketing manual, a Personnel/Human Resources manual, or a Customer Service manual, along with a primary Operations P&P manual. You can also customize your manual to reflect your industry (shipping & receiving, inventory control, retail).


1. Able to preempt potential problems and establish procedures to deal with every possible eventuality

2. Staff do not need to be constantly reminded of each policy and procedure. It is down on paper and can easily be accessed

3. Accountability is created as staff and management roles are clearly designated, and procedures are clearly laid out in a user-friendly format

Steps to Creating a Policy and Procedures Manual

1. Create Categories

• Accounting – what processes do you use with your accounts?
• Management – what management model or style do you follow?
• Administration – how do you want your business organized and run on a daily basis?
• Customer Service – what is your customer service philosophy and how does that translate into day-to-day service?
• Emergency Procedures – what do you want your staff to do in the event of an emergency?
• Hiring Practices – what procedures do you follow when hiring new staff?
• Personnel – what are your policies regarding overtime and time off; benefits; performance evaluations; professional development; and the day to day operations of your company?
• Safety and Security – what has to happen daily to keep your building and inventory secure?
• Job Descriptions – do you have job descriptions for every person employed with you?

2. Specific Aspects of each Section need to be addressed, detailed each aspect applicable in the specific department. An example for staff operations policy and procedures is below:

a. Drugs and Alcohol

i. Tolerance Level (i.e. zero tolerance? one warning?)
ii. Testing (if required, how often, what process is used?)
iii. Consequences (what happens if someone is caught using drugs or alcohol on the job?)

b. Employment Policies

i. Performance Appraisals and Salary Adjustments (how often, at what rate?)
ii. Ethics and Confidentiality (your expectations and consequences of breaking them)
iii. Employment Records (what do you keep, where is it kept, who has access?)

c. Orientation

i. Schedule and Routine (length of time required, rate of pay, process)

d. Overtime and Unpaid Leave

i. Overtime rates (what are they?)
ii. Unpaid leave (what is your policy – request in writing? family emergencies only?)

e. Benefits (write out specifics for each)

i. Medical Benefits
ii. Pension / Provident Fund
iii. Memberships

f. Performance Evaluations

i. Schedule of Evaluations (how often, by whom, based on what?)
ii. Relation to Salary Increases (cost of living only? based on performance? Commission?)

g. Resignations and Terminations

i. Resignations (what do you expect – two week’s notice, in writing?)
ii. Terminations (what can they expect – two week’s notice? Severance pay?)

h. Professional Development

i. Management (how many times per year? Cost?)
ii. Supervisors (how many times per year? Cost?)
iii. Staff (how many times per year? Cost?)

i. Workplace Rules & Guidelines

i. Lunch and Coffee Breaks (how long and when?
ii. Workplace Decorum (what behaviour do you expect among your team? with your customers?)
iii. Dress Code (what do you expect?)
iv. Company Property (how do you expect it to be treated? is borrowing allowed?)
v. Parking
vi. Personal Phone Calls
vii. Grievances and Complaints (what process do they use to address their concerns?)

Guidelines for writing an SOP:

1. Purpose

• Explain the objective the SOP is intended to achieve.

2. Scope

• State the range of activities the SOP applies to, as well as any limitations or exceptions.


• State the personnel, departments, groups, contractors, and/or subcontractors responsible for complying with the SOP.
• State the person or group responsible for assuring the appropriate personnel are trained on the SOP.

4. Procedure

• Explain the procedure in simple steps.
• Describe what to do, not how to do it.
• State who does each step and how it is recorded to be certain that whoever is performing the procedure can prove that they have done it.
• Think about what is needed before the procedure is started so that the person performing the function can do it correctly the first time.

5.Review and Revision

• State how often the SOP is reviewed and/or under what circumstances it is to be revised.


• State what happens if the SOP cannot be followed.
• Identify who needs to be notified.


• List related SOPs, any supporting documentation necessary to understand and correctly follow the procedure, and any applicable regulations and regulatory guidelines.


• Define words and acronyms that people reading the SOP would not generally know and that would require clarification.
• If a definition is needed, and one exists in the regulations, use the regulation definition.


• Attach any documents used in support of the SOP, e.g. flowcharts, work instructions.

10.History of Change

• State in sufficient detail, what changes were made, what parts of the SOP were affected and when the changes become effective.

11. Content

• Check the SOP to make sure it is clear, correct, concise, complete, and comprehensive.
• Use language and detail appropriate to the staff performing the task. Use short sentences to express a single thought wherever possible.
• Use techniques that condense information, e.g., tables, matrices, bulleted lists, checklists, and diagrams.
• Write the text in the third person, present tense, active voice. State in the procedure what is done, not what must, shall, or may be done. Avoid references to gender (“they, their” rather than “he, she”).
• Express the main idea early in each sentence.
• Define job titles or unusual terms the first time they appear, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses.
• The abbreviated form is used in the SOP.
• Avoid the use of “etc.” If the list is limited, write it out in full. If a list is extensive and inappropriate to write out in full, write the term “for example (e.g.)” and give a relevant list.
• Write the numbers 1 through 9 in words within the text.
• Write the numbers 10 and greater in the numerical form.

12. Style

• The page header should include the SOP number, title, page number, and effective date.
• The page footer should include the complete filename and path.


SOP’s provide the Manager with a means to measure performance i.e. it is not always a true measure of performance to only look at outcomes. Employees may for a period of time take short cuts. The Manager should provide employees with a checklist, and employees should go through each procedure. It is normal practice for the individual completing an SOP to verify completion of the task, with signature and date.


The administration of a business is interchangeable with the performance or management of business operations, maybe including important decision making. Thus, it is likely to include the efficient organization of people and other resources so as to direct activities toward common goals and objectives

Key to good administration:

It is clear from the above description that good administration involves efficient organization of people who have specific roles.

In order to achieve this, the business owner needs to identify the operational needs of the business, who is responsible for meeting those needs, which people will work together to achieve goals, and what resources are needed to achieve the desired outcome.
The entrepreneur may in some instances need to fulfil numerous roles e.g. a Personal Trainer may need to train clients as well as collect monies, do accounts and clean the studio. In larger organisations however, the Manager for example may be seen as an administrator.

These “functions” of the administrator were described by Henri Fayol as “the 6 elements of administration”:

• Planning

Deciding in advance what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and who should do it. It maps the path from where the organization is to where it wants to be. The planning function involves establishing goals and arranging them in a logical order. Administrators engage in both short-range and long-range planning.

• Organizing

Identifying responsibilities to be performed, grouping responsibilities into departments or divisions, and specifying organizational relationships. The purpose is to achieve coordinated effort among all the elements in the organization (Coordinating). Organizing must take into account delegation of authority and responsibility and span of control within supervisory units.

• Staffing

Filling job positions with the right people at the right time. It involves determining staffing needs, writing job descriptions, recruiting and screening people to fill the positions.

• Directing(Commanding)

Leading people in a manner that achieves the goals of the organization. This involves proper allocation of resources and providing an effective support system. Directing requires exceptional interpersonal skills and the ability to motivate people. One of the crucial issues in directing is to find the correct balance between emphasis on staff needs and emphasis on economic production.

• Controlling

A function that evaluates quality in all areas and detects potential or actual deviations from the organization’s plan. This ensures high-quality performance and satisfactory results while maintaining an orderly and problem-free environment. Controlling includes information management, measurement of performance, and institution of corrective actions.

• Budgeting

Exempted from the list above, incorporates most of the administrative functions, beginning with the implementation of a budget plan through the application of budget controls.
In other words, the administrator can follow the above system and effectively administer tasks.

Fitness industry administration roles and responsibilities

Depending on the size of the fitness facility, the administrative needs of the organisation will differ. If you run a small company, it is likely that you may take on a lot of the administrative duties of the company. Larger health clubs however are likely to firm structures in place.

The following details the administrative needs of a fully functioning fitness organisation:

Administration Officer

Administration Officers handle the day to day administration, and can either be at the front desk, or sometimes not in sight of the public. Some examples of duties include record keeping, data entry, inventory control, report-writing and staffing issues.


A Receptionist is often said to be one of the most vital cogs of a business, as they make the first impression. Duties include greeting clients as they enter the health club, answering phone calls, scheduling appointments, answering questions and providing information.


A Marketer applies research information and promotes and advertises the health club, products and services to boost membership.

Member Relations Officer

Not all facilities have the luxury of a Member Relations Manager. The Member Relations Officers and Managers are responsible for maintaining relationships with a centre’s clients and keeping them updated on changes, promotions, complaints and general activities. The Member Relations Manager plays an important role in membership retention.

Membership Sales Manager

This role involves managing and training the team of Sales Consultants. The Membership Manager often has to drive the team to meet sales targets. The Membership Sales Manager will work closely with the General Manager who assists with setting targets and reviewing sales team performance and processes.

Membership/Sales Consultant

Sales Consultants coordinate the sale of memberships within a health club. Sales Consultants work in a highly pressurised environment, which is outcomes driven. Sales consultants work under the mentorship of the Membership Sales Manager and process sales on a daily basis.

Administration Manager

The primary purpose of this role is to develop and manage a team and develop and coordinate processes and systems to improve business and financial management. Skills that may be advantageous include ability to use initiative and strong communication, interpersonal and analytical skills.

Fitness Manager

A Fitness manager implements fitness programs and classes within a fitness club. Duties include budgeting, determining the nature and demand for services and identifying new trends in fitness industry. The Fitness Manager is involved in recruiting and training of Instructors and Personal trainers, as well as ensuring that the gym is supervised by Instructors at all times. The Fitness Manager plays an important role in member retention.

Maintenance/ Facility Manager

The Maintenance/ Facility Manager is responsible for ensuring that the gym is fully functioning and that there are no health and safety risks. The duties may include for example, gym equipment maintenance, cleaning, equipment repairs etc. The Maintenance/ Facility Manager will work within the framework of the Health and Safety policies, and adhere to Standard operating procedures for all maintenance. The role may include supervising a team who are mentored and accountable to the Maintenance/ Facility Manager.

Fitness Centre Manager

Managers are responsible for the overall running of a centre, including allocating and controlling a centre’s resources, activities and facilities. Managers are also involved in determining the future direction, and financial growth of a centre