Franchise Operations Manuals
By Michael J. Childs
If there were ever a part of your franchise system you shouldn’t shortcut, the Operations Manual would be it.
A quality Operations Manual is the single most critical factor when it comes to your initial and ongoing franchise system success.
There are hundreds of horror stories about franchise systems that self-destructed because the Operations Manual was incomplete, poorly written, or in some cases, was just a table of contents leading to nowhere.
Many times these were great concepts that probably would have made it big if they just had a complete, well-written, good-looking Operations Manual their franchisees could use to open and run their new business.
Why You Need a World-Class Operations Manual
Public perception of uniform quality is essential to all franchise systems. The franchise model thrives on consistency.
If your franchisees don’t know the rules, you can’t consistently or uniformly enforce your brand’s standards or protect your franchise system, intellectual property such as trademarks, and your proprietary money-making systems and processes.
Incomplete or poorly written Operations Manuals will guide your franchisees to failure, while a complete, well-written Operations Manual will lead them to success. Your franchisees paid for - and expect - a proven, well-documented system for making money detailed in a comprehensive Operations Manual.
Every successful franchise system has a comprehensive, good-looking, professionally written Operations Manual.
The Operations Manual is also the perfect textbook to use during initial and ongoing franchisee training. You won’t need a separate training manual. You can update the manual without limitation, with your franchisees becoming excellent content providers, helping you build on the original content.
Great Operations Manuals are also excellent franchise sales tools. You will sell more franchises with an impressive Operations Manual your candidates can preview, usually during Discovery Day, before buying the franchise.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Franchise Rule requires that you have an Operations Manual. The Table of Contents and the number of pages in the manual are a required exhibit in the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD).
Paper or Digital
Printing the manual and putting it in a 3-ring binder may seem old-fashioned, but the Operations Manual is more than just a how-to and reference guide for your franchisees.
It’s the place where you will permanently store, protect, and keep track of all of your intellectual property, processes, and systems. It is a single resource to make sure that all of your franchisees comply with your proprietary methods, brand standards and goals.
You can use a PDF or digital version that can be accessed online through your password-protected website and also distribute by email. The PDF or digital version will be the easiest to update and keep current, but you should always keep the printed copy up to date and on file at your corporate headquarters if you plan to have one.
When it comes to updates, every franchise system is different. Some insist on printed supplements to the original manual by mailing out updates. Some only use online or digital manuals, and some use both by sending out printed supplements when they update the digital version.
A printed version is best for training purposes. With the franchise opportunities I developed, I gave my new franchisees access to a digital manual after they signed the franchise agreement so they could get started reading, and a printed one for training that they could use to take notes and take back with them.
What Should You Pay for a Professionally Written Operations Manual?
The typical fee in the industry for a professionally written Operations Manual is about $100 per page and about six months of development time. At an average manual size of 200 - 300 pages, it can quickly add up.
We produce professionally written, edited, good-looking Custom Operations Manuals that can be ready to use in as little as 90 days - at a very affordable price. Much less than the typical fee in the industry.
Using Operation Manual Templates
Using a quality template - and that part is critical - can help you create a quality Operations Manual for your franchise system, but you need to plan on investing at least three to four months of your time to writing your manual.
Although Operations Manuals seem expensive and time-consuming, especially when you are first starting, they are necessary, living documents that you will use every day for ten years or more with all of your franchisees, but are only a one-time expense.
A quality Operations Manual is the single most critical factor when it comes to your initial and ongoing franchise system success. It is almost impossible to be successful in selling franchises or managing your franchisees without one.