In the my previous two articles, I covered important legislation and key elements for your manuals. Are you now using them or are these important documents gathering dust? There are many ways to use your manuals and improve company performance. Perhaps this article will give you more ideas or remind you how to use these documents effectively. In addition, toward the end of this article, I am including a form to test how well your personnel understand the content.

To use your manuals effectively, it is important to start by evaluating if your manuals are current. Have you been using them? For example, did you create your Policy and Procedures Manual in 2009? If you have made no changes since that time, you probably have a lot of outdated, useless, or even dangerous information lurking throughout this document.

Stop – clean out the cobwebs, and update those manuals before they cause you problems with your business! Don’t throw them out – just organize your team to make changes and make them current. There are so many useful ways to use your manuals. Let me show you how.

Use manuals to defend your business. A key reason to have a manual is to reduce your liability. There are so many lawsuits today and it is important to be able to prove that you do practice those policies and they do follow and support current legislation. Be sure to show them selectively – they should not be public documents and you want to be sure they are current. This is why you should “date” any revisions or changes in the footer (covered in my previous article).

Use manuals to train your clientele. Education is a key to success in life and this really applies to the property management industry. If your owners, tenants, vendors and John Q Public all know what you expect of them, you will have less stress and “stop many fires.” Putting together effective owner, tenant, and vendor manuals can save you a great many hours of correcting misinterpreted information.

Use manuals to train new personnel. What better way is there to introduce your office systems to someone new? There is so much to cover when someone starts work and a current Policy and Procedures Manual and/or Employee Manual can give them an immediate snapshot of your business and a source to use when they need help. Be sure to have them sign an acknowledgement form that they have read and understood the content. If is very important to include a clause in your manual that they have a responsibility of notifying you if they do not understand any of the material.

Use manuals in office meetings. Are you having a problem with the same issue repeatedly? Make that manual work for you! It’s not there to just look pretty and say you have one – it is a working living document! Cover the problem subject in an office meeting using your Policy and Procedures Manual or any other manual that is appropriate. You may find that a manual needs revisions or that your team can give new insight on a better way to accomplish something – just update your manuals!

TEST your personnel on your manuals. Here is a “manual test” that you can use and revise. Introduce this test in an office meeting “without notice.” Emphasize that this is a positive thing to help the office – avoid making it a negative. After everyone takes the test, review the answers. Do this in your meetings or with individual personnel to help everyone have a full understanding of your policies and procedures.

Use manuals to review personnel. You can use your manuals or a manual test to help with personnel reviews. It is always important to document the performance of everyone in your team. It can give you the basis for an increase in pay, a warning, or a termination. Just be sure to put everything in writing and have personnel sign their reviews.

There are so many ways to make all the effort, time, and money that you have put in your manuals pay off. Make them work for you – you can only do that by updating using them. Don’t forget, LandlordSource products can help you with your efforts. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Jean Storms - Owner and Author of LandlordSource ProductsJean Storms, MPM® is the founder/author of LandlordSource and has been a NARPM® member since January 1993.

Disclaimer: LandlordSource does not represent the article content in this website as legal advice. It is shared information only and up to the reader to use this information responsibly, seeking legal advice as necessary to their business.