All week we have discussed ways you can protect your travel agency from some of the inherent liabilities of the industry. Each of the items we discussed, however, is a tactic. Each is an isolated technique that has great merit for any travel practice. Without an overarching protective strategy however, the chances are pretty good that your office will fail to consistently apply the tactics we have discussed. Your office needs a standard operating procedure (SOP) and training.
An SOP is a set of guidelines that prescribes a procedure are to follow. The procedure requires that an insurance waiver be signed each and every time a client declines insurance. The procedure requires the documentation of a phone call in an email. Staff members are required to use approved suppliers or to get a waiver from upper management before using a supplier off the list. Common operating procedures are not meant to be a stifle of creativity or spontaneity, but a method for making certain the travel practice is consistent in its application of the legacy wisdom of the office and best practices.
The office SOP should be in writing. This is one of the most difficult aspects. Everyone is busy and documenting a standard operating procedure takes time and energy, typically involving more than one person. Nevertheless, the memorialization of procedures in this way makes certain that they are clearly articulated and agreed upon.
Having an SOP is important. Equally important is training each individual employee in the office procedures. Management should train each new hire in office protocol. Periodic reminders should be given to all in the form of short briefings. When a mistake is made in the office, everyone should review the mistake together to indicate how it happened and how to prevent future occurrences.
You put a great deal of time and investment into building your practice. A few simple measures can insure that your investment is well protected.