Why Do I Need a Franchise Operations Manual?

If you’re even thinking of franchising your business, you already know the answer to the question: Why do I need a franchise operations manual? Because it’s mandatory for your Franchise Disclosure Document. But rules aren’t always a reason to do something (“I’ll do it, but I won’t like it”). 

Why should you do any more than the minimum effort to produce a franchise operations manual? 

Here are several reasons you should not only want to document your business policies, processes, and procedures, but to do it in a way that takes advantage of several opportunities. I’ll try to answer the question as if it was asked by different members of the organization, showing why everyone should support a well-thought, comprehensive franchise operations manual.

If you are a…

Franchise Sales Director: 

A well-designed document, one that looks as good as a brochure, says to your prospects “we know what we’re doing”. A voluminous Word doc does not. This is important to – especially – multi-unit franchisees and those with a Master Franchise agreement. 

“We closed a 15 unit deal, largely because our ops manual looks great and is easy to read. This wasn’t the only reason, of course, but it gave us credibility at a time when we only had 12 units open. It was a powerful tool for us.”

Franchise Training Director: 

You probably don’t need to be convinced that a top-notch operations manual is essential. You also probably don’t need convincing that a Master Training Manual and the accompanying Reference Guides are necessary. What we want you to know is this: creating a static, 400 page document using a word processing program will not make those additional materials easy to manage. Topic-based, single-source documentation makes adding / changing / deleting topics much, much easier. Don’t skimp on the development. Invest in the architecture (and a content management system).

“When we changed our POS, we had to not only add the new training material, we also had to maintain the legacy information until it could be phased out. ‘Find and Replace’ isn’t efficient across multiple documents, but the content management system made this pretty simple.”

Franchise Attorney:

You also don’t need to be convinced of the need for a comprehensive document of company policies and procedures, but here’s a benefit for you: when rules change, or a disclaimer used on 17 pages (across 4 manuals / guides), you can be compliant almost immediately. Also, in the event you have some need to document past rules or policies, good document governance means you can view change-logs and full versions of what you used to say, and when you said it.

“Our facilities have different rules in different states. Non-compliance can mean fines or worse. When we had need to confirm that one of our policies was in compliance with Florida state law, we were able to not only prove that we were, but could produce the date on which the update was made, thus showing we had always been in compliance.”

Franchise Operations Director:

This is your bread and butter. You know you need solid processes, clear standards, and quick-reference materials. You need them to be available to not only your franchise partners, but to their employees, wherever they work. Printed and bound documents in the kitchen? While at a client location? Cumbersome. Reference materials should be produced in whatever format is most convenient for the end-user.

Plus, you know the processes will change almost continuously. How do you ensure your updates are made, synched, and distributed? Process, workflow, and technology are the answer to that. (Side Note: We help you anticipate those needs, then provide the process, workflows, and technology.)

Not a quote, but an example: 

How difficult would it be for you to create a document for the following scenario using your existing tools?

A co-branded mall location, with modified product offerings, in Quebec, Canada, with stringent local health codes and their own supply chain, translated to French, with local currency and weights.

Marketing Director:

It’s not that you don’t care how easy it is to update the manuals and other documentation, it’s just that, well… Here’s why you should care more than you think: If the “brand” is every interaction you have with customers, from the logo and decor to the advertising and customer service, then you have just turned your brand over to an $8/hr employee, hired and trained by someone other than you and your team. 

“Nothing kills a bad product faster than good marketing.”

Or, if you prefer

“Why invite customers in, just to make them angry?”

OK, but…

I can do it myself, right? 

You can, but that’s a different blog post

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