How to Write a Franchise Operations Manual
The foundation of every business is a set of procedures and operating procedures which define how the model is managed and how the customer is served a product or service. These processes are intricately interwoven into the brand itself and are called into question when going to duplicate a business model through franchise development. As a business scales through franchise expansion, this franchise operations manual will prove crucial in maintaining the integrity of the model and being able to duplicate success in new locations. When you franchise your business, have a particular importance for such procedures to be accurately communicated as to ensure quality control and proper brand representation within the hands of franchisees. The operations manual is a 300 to 400 page document that accurately depicts every facet of a business’ operations. It acts as a fully comprehensive document for the setup, day-to-day, and troubleshooting of any business.
The first step of putting together any operations manual is outlining the various sections that will be covered within the document. How do you create a customer experience that is memorable and brings people back to the business? How does an employee greet a customer on the phone? What are the closing procedures to convert customer interest? These are the types of questions the operations manual needs to answer and document clearly. Using analysis techniques and a general understanding of a business type, this basic outline will serve as a template from which to write the manual. Depending on the type of business, the outline may include any of the following topics: POS management, inventory management, establishing the business, hiring staff, and structuring of the services. Ultimately, this outline serves as an agenda for a field visit.
Following the outline, a more detailed in-person analysis of the business needs to be completed. Typically this process can be done within a two day field visit, but more time may be needed. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of the business takes a significant amount of focused on-the-job presence and a consultant’s perspective. Using an outside source to write the manual proves to uncover the natural abilities of a business owner and the habitual management practices that may otherwise go unnoticed by those immersed in the business itself. Consultants can provide guidance on the scope, format, and style of the document that is most appropriate for the industry, concept, and model of the business.
The sections of the franchise operations manual will typically cover similar things, but will vary depending on the type of business. Within the context of a franchise, an operations manual will specifically address the roles and responsibilities of the franchisor and franchisee. The documentation needs to also cover elements such as how to establish the franchise, hiring personnel, tax filing, special permits, what accounts to open, signage, recommended furnishings, required software and more are discussed as well. Day-to-day processes and procedures of the business is another key section of the document; business process mapping is a fantastic way to effectively communicate the workflow to employees within this section. Examples of what this section discusses includes scheduling appointments, opening/closing procedures, or job safety. Topics such as customer service techniques, approved vendors, and PTO policies are also reviewed here. The operations manual will need to cover the specific roles and hierarchy of the company and the job descriptions of each role in detail. Finally, the document will discuss the boundaries and guidelines for marketing and sales.
Once completed, this encyclopedia of sorts will need to be revised, edited, and proofed thoroughly. The document can be produced both in print and online, adding to the convenience of access for franchisees and employees, but accessible it must be! The franchise operations manual will also include photographic representations of the business which may include visuals to depict the processes, decor, uniforms, and setup of the establishment.
A franchise operations manual is a key document that adds efficiency and accountability to any business. The process of writing the document even has its perks, allowing for a business owner and its employees to refine and ponder the current state of how things are done and ultimately streamlines the business for the better.
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