The franchise operations manual is an important document in acting as a reference point for franchisees to ensure the required standards and protocols are performed in the appropriate manner. Basically, the manual is a how-to guide for replicating and operating a particular franchise business, and should be the first point of reference in relation to operational aspects.
So clearly, the manual plays an important role within the franchise system in maintaining standards. But is it actually being used by your franchisees? If not, perhaps the manual isn't relevant anymore and needs to undergo an update.
Let's take a look.
Is It Aligned With The Franchise's Branding?
Before even turning over the pages of the manual, it should be easily recognized as part of the brand when someone sees the cover. While looking inside, the presentation of information and layout should also align with the brand - conveying the brand's beliefs and philosophies of the business.
Is It Current & Relevant?
There's no point having an ultra-detailed and well-instructed manual if the content isn't up-to-date. In line with the current business model and offerings, and also changes in management or operational processes, the manual must reflect relevance in today's environment. There is surely no point in having an all encompassing manual that works only for yesterday.
Is It Accepted As An Effective & Efficient Guide?
Since the manual will be a first point of reference for operational procedures when in doubt, it has to be detailed but also constructed in an easy-to-read manner. Instructional clarity should take the cake here. Remember, the manual is supposed to be a magical document that can provide answers to most (if not all) operational issues, so it should be written in a manner that will be easily understood, regardless of the reader's background. Ultimately, it is how the manual is being used that makes the difference.
Is It Ready To Be Used As A Training Aid?
The thing is, since the manual covers all areas of operating the franchise business, it can also act as a basis of training to the franchisee and their employees. If there are gaps when the franchisee tries to use the manual for employee induction or other training purposes, it may be a sign that the manual is inadequate and needs buffing up with more details.
Is It Available Online?
Perhaps not a necessity, rather more a 'want'. But with today's technology where mobile devices allow people to connect on-the-go, not having an online version may shout out hints of 'dinosaur'. An online version will allow franchisees to get updates conveniently, easily and most importantly, quickly.
Does Your Franchise Operations Manual Need A Review?
Having developed a good franchise operations manual at the start is only the first step. Being able to provide timely updates for operational changes requires the franchisor's continual commitment. When franchisees have an item that could increase their success rate in operating the franchise business, chances are they will use it, thereby increasing the manual's use and effectiveness within the franchise system.
So if your business model/offerings have changed since you introduced your franchise concept, perhaps you'll want to start planning for a manual review. Also, if the business experiences employee turnover frequently, a manual could more efficiently help ease new hires into their roles and responsibilities.
In the next section of this 2-part series, we’ll take a look at the typical content that goes into the franchise operations manual.