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Developing Your Operations Manual

Have you taken adequate steps to develop your Operations Manual? Crafting a clear, detailed, and well-organized guidebook for how someone else should run your franchise will have a significant impact on your franchise’s success.

Why is an Operations Manual So Important?

This manual, which supersedes any employee manuals, is essential because it includes the most important standard operating procedures (SOPs), institutional hierarchy information, and emergency procedures. Written policies never eliminate human error, but they should minimize problems, and are solid supporting materials in the event of litigation.

An Operations Manual describes your business processes in minute detail, if necessary. In a restaurant franchise, for example, the Operations Manual will describe all aspects of food handling. You don’t want to leave these things to chance especially if they can jeopardize health and safety.

Documentation creates accountability. Think of the Operations Manual as a master file for everything, including hierarchy flow charts, disclosure agreements, disciplinary procedures, as well as safety management procedures.

When all parties sign off on a written procedure, they can not claim ignorance. In most situations, the franchisor also provides training to reinforce the procedures outlined in the Manual.

What Exactly Goes into an Operations Manual?

Experienced firms and advisors know how to create effective and comprehensive Operations Manuals for franchises. Here are some of the most common components of an Operations Manual:

  • Company Hierarchy
    In larger businesses, these can get rather elaborate, which is something that might happen to you if your franchise business expands to 5, 10, or even 20 units and beyond. As that occurs, you’ll want to keep a clear picture of who does what job.
  • Job Descriptions
    When you advertise job postings for new positions you can turn to the Manual for job descriptions for each key position. Each job description will outline the responsibilities, expectations, and qualifications of each position.
  • Contact Details
    Sometimes this overlaps the hierarchy information. Contact details include key personnel, their job titles, as well as phone/email information as applicable.
  • Documented Processes
    This section reviews how to perform the most basic (and essential) tasks within your franchise. The goal is that regardless of location, the customer experience will be the same, whether that’s how appointments are scheduled and confirmed if you run a hair salon, or how to dispose of hazardous materials in an auto service franchise.
  • Emergency Procedures
    This section can include general evacuation procedures, how to handle unruly customers, or safely handle hazardous equipment, how to address workplace injury, and so forth. It’s also a good place to document any safety signs franchisees are expected to use within their location.

Those were just some of the key sections in the Operations Manual of a franchise. Preparing you to build and launch a successful and safe franchise system is the mission of