Ep.181 Five Brick and Mortar Store Systems Every Shop Owner Should Document

This is part two of a four-part series on Operations Manuals for brick and mortar store owners! Read parts one, three, and four on brick and mortar store systems.

A fact that might surprise you: EVERY indie store owner has a set of brick and mortar store systems. Yes, even those of you who don’t yet have an operations manual! 

You might not have them anywhere but inside your head, but you do have a set of systems and processes that you follow. As we dive deeper into operations manuals, let’s look at five key systems you should document, including which systems you can easily document today. 

What a Traditional Operations Manual Looks Like

If you’ve worked in a corporate job before, or really any job where you aren’t your own boss, there was probably some type of documentation for processes and procedures. 

I worked in government for almost 20 years, and although we didn’t have an operations manual per se, we had something very similar. In fact, when I was in training, not only did we have to build our binders and get familiar with every procedure in the binder…we had to carry them up seven flights of steps many times a day! We were NOT allowed to ride the elevators. Let me tell ya, I was in the best shape of my life.  

A binder with tabs, chapters, processes, and procedures is what you’re building for your business when you create an operations manual. You’ll start to document all the information you store in your incredible brain.

In episode 180, I talked about why an operations manual is beneficial to small retailers like us. The main benefit is getting everything out of your head and onto paper so you can continue to work less, profit more, and GROW.

An operations manual can include a LOT of documentation, but for now, let’s look at the five brick and mortar store systems that nearly every retailer will want to document. 

Why just five? Because if I shared what a comprehensive retail store operations manual looks like, you’d run for the hills. Kidding. Kind of. 😉

Brick and mortar store systems

#1. Inventory Intake

In last week’s episode, I mentioned my Systems & Processes masterclass. During that class, I share several examples of what brick and mortar store systems look like. 

One that every store owner needs is a system for intaking inventory. We think it’s simple and common sense, but the minute you have to hand this off to an employee? You’ll quickly realize how nuanced it is and how many steps are involved. 

From what to do with bubble wrap and peanuts to how to price products and a dozen things in between, every part of your inventory intake system needs to be documented in your operations manual. That way, you can give clear instructions rather than asking your employees to guess.

#2. Bookkeeping

We’ve been talking A LOT about bookkeeping in Master Shopkeepers recently. Occasionally, I post a series of prompts on a particular subject in the MSK Facebook Group. These prompts get the conversation going, encourage group members to stop procrastinating, allow everyone to share ideas, and create a central spot for members’ most commonly asked questions with links to specific lessons. 

Even if you have a bookkeeper (spoiler alert, you should!), there are still tasks that YOU need to do to work well with them. This means reconciling your books every month in a timely fashion.

#3. Store Opening & Closing Procedures

Opening and closing procedures are much simpler than inventory intake and bookkeeping, but they are brick and mortar store systems all the same! These systems are a great place to start because they usually consist of a simple checklist. 

Write out exactly what you do when you open the store, then do the same for closing the store. List the steps in enough detail that a stranger could follow them—not that you’ll have a stranger opening or closing for you, but you’ll have a new employee who knows nothing at some point. Those one-page documents are your first set of processes! 

#4. Staff Onboarding

Many of you who listen to the podcast and read this blog are solo shopkeepers, but I also know many of you want to GROW. 

If you take the Quiz and you’re striving to get to the fifth stage—aka, Retail CEO—having a system for onboarding employees is a MUST. You want this to be as streamlined and simplified as possible. Training and bringing new team members on is stressful enough without reinventing your process every single time. 

#5. Social Media Management

Out of all the brick and mortar store systems, this one might be my favorite. Why? Because you already have a system for this, even if you don’t realize it! Often, this is one of the first big tasks in our businesses that we want to and CAN hand off. 

For example, after doing the social media for my own store for YEARS, I was able to hand it off to my friend Woz. But it wasn’t as simple as just giving them our Instagram login information. Not only did we have to figure out a system for image sharing, info sharing, scheduling, content ideas, and more, but I also needed to teach her the nuances of my strategy. 

I post products in the mornings when we’re open, which helps to get foot traffic in the store. I post informational, educational, fun, and personal content in the evenings or on days we’re closed. 

How would Woz know this if I didn’t tell her? This is why it’s critical to document those little details in your brick and mortar store systems that no one would know but YOU.

Brick and mortar store systems

Start Documenting YOUR Brick and Mortar Store Systems!

Between last week’s post and today’s, your mind might be racing about where to even begin with creating your operations manual. 

In part three of this series, I’ll share a helpful resource to help you get OUT of operations manual overwhelm and into action!



  • [01:13] What a Traditional Operations Manual Looks Like
  • [03:55] #1. Inventory Intake
  • [05:21] #2. Bookkeeping
  • [07:50] #3. Store Opening & Closing Procedures
  • [08:51] #4. Staff Onboarding
  • [10:17] #5. Social Media Management
  • [12:14] Start Documenting YOUR Brick and Mortar Store Systems!

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