Six easy steps to ensure your ops manual helps build a profitable franchise

By Sarah Stowe | 29 Oct 2015 View comments

Do you need to review your operations manual? It is the foundation of your franchise system, a complete guide on how to run an aligned and profitable franchise. Here is a six step, no-nonsense checklist.

We need to talk. It’s about your operations manual. It wants to let you know that it’s feeling neglected. It’s been awhile since it’s seen anyone. All alone and abandoned on the shelf, knowing it can help, knowing it’s job is to be the very backbone of operations excellence in your franchise… but no.

It sits there watching the ops team running around doing the work it was made for…

I have the same conversation with franchisors about 30 times a year. "So Karli, our ops manual is out of date and no one uses it. Can you fix it?"

The answer is yes I can fix it. But I can’t fix the problem that lead to it being dusty and disregarded without your help.

Some of you are full and complete lovers of your ops manual and you reap the rightful rewards. Others are avoiding all eye contact right now…

Let’s be frank, sometimes the reason you need an ops manual is for bank accreditation or because your agreements says you do. That’s OK. But why not build something useful?

It’s got too hard, been left too long and now the enormity of the job is paralysing you with fear.

But remember this: your operations manual is the foundation of your franchise system. It is the source of information on expectations, standards and procedure, a complete reference and instructional guide on how to run an aligned and profitable franchise.

So that’s pretty important.

A good ops manual is a valuable learning resource that supports franchisee success. And makes your support team’s job a little easier by having an easy to navigate resource that actually gets used. Convinced?  If not here are yet more reasons why your ops manual is worth your loving…

  • Maximise the effectiveness and application of knowledge and skills in your franchise system
  • Capture your best practice business operating standards, policies and procedures in a user-friendly document
  • Provide the platform for franchise operations excellence
  • Form the basis of your training and education programs

There is an added benefit when you invest in a review of your ops manual. The evaluation process provides the opportunity to:

  • Look critically at the systems and tools you have in place and question their value, relevance and currency
  • Uncover all the things that have become normal but are no longer correct or there is an easier way to do it

Reviewing your ops manual will give you a structure to take a fresh look at your system. That is useful. So let’s take a look at the review process.

Review your franchise operations manual 

  • Decide who owns it. Ops manuals tend to live in the never-never land between the training and ops teams. Find yourself an ops manual champion and task them with its care.
  • Spark a fire in your support team for the ops manual, focusing on how it will help them do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.
  • Set up a regular review process.
  • Your franchisees are at the pointy end of the ops manual so devise a way for them to have input into the contents.

And then …

1.   Be clear on your objective

Start at the end. Exactly what do you want your ops manual to do, how it will be used [online or hard copy], how will it form the basis of training? How will your ops team measure its implementation? How will it integrate with other documents, programs, guides, manuals and platforms? Who are the main stakeholders to engage and who is accountable for sign-off. What is your launch schedule? All at once, or trickle feed? How will you launch it?

2.   Understanding your target audience

How will they use it in their day-to-day operations? What will speak best to your franchisees and their teams? The style of writing [formal or more informal], the look and feel of the documents?

3.   Content

The easiest way to get your content right is to start with a comprehensive review of your contents page. Does it include everything a franchisee needs to run an aligned and profitable franchise? What’s missing? What’s redundant? Is there any double up? Does the flow make logical sense? How do you want your content laid out? By chapter, sections in a chapter? Alphabetically? Will you hyperlink to relevant tools? What document structure will meet your objective?

4.   Write and re-write

Will your write the content internally? One person does it all or spread through the team? Or engage a consultant? What is you draft to final version process?

5.   Pilot

Before launching to your network, can you test the ops manual in a real world setting, and provide the opportunity to measure success. This step is a luxury in many cases, but usually a very good investment of resources. Nothing will set your revamped ops manual up for success, better than franchisee endorsement!

6.   Launch

Your damn fine ops manual is ready to roll out! It has been refined, reviewed, approved, tested in the real world and refined some more… time to unleash!

I make it seem so simple! Six months of work summarised in six steps. It’s not an easy job, but it will be an incredibly rewarding one and you will emerge at the end of it with a system refresh and a useful tool to drive operational excellence in your system.

There will always be more pressing matters than reviewing your ops manual. It’s one of those tasks you need to decide to do, get it on your annual plan, allocate the budget to do it and then see it through.

I’m glad we talked. If you want to talk more. Call me.