Every Franchise Opportunity comes with an Operators manual. This is the cornerstone of every franchise business. A well written and properly set out manual can easily make the difference between having a successful franchisee or a failure. Many franchisors do not dedicate as much time and effort in their operators manual as they should.
I believe that a franchise business operator’s manual has to have the following:
Detailed instructions on how to run and manage the business properly. Most franchisees do not come from business backgrounds and therefore need taught the basic skills of how to manage a business during their training programme. These guidelines should be laid down neatly and concisely in the operator’s manual.
Every aspect of running a business should be covered and zero assumptions should be made of the franchisees existing knowledge. This might make the manual bulky but it is definitely the right way to go. The franchisees will come to regard the operator’s manual as his bible and if the franchisor has covered every aspect of running the business then this is more likely to lead to successful franchisees.
As the franchise network grows the franchisor will have less time to spend to individual franchisees. Having more details in the operator’s manual will lead to less calls that have to be fielded by the franchisor. It is imperative that when a franchisee does make a call and asks a question that is already covered in the manual that he is taken to the correct page whilst on the phone. This will further reinforce in the franchisees mind the need to check the operator’s manual before making that call.
Every time a call is made where the answer is not covered in the manual then it is time to update it. Over time this will lead to a comprehensive “bible” that covers most of the day to day questions asked.
The manual should be broken down into at least two segments; the first segment should be purely for the franchisee and the second segment should be for the franchisee and the staff employed in the franchisees business. This is important because often the franchisee will not want the staff to know everything about the business. Some parts of the manual might cover aspects like how to deal with problem staff and disputes. Obviously this segment should only be for the franchisees benefit and not for the staff employed in the business.
Great care should be taken to create a definite structure to the manual so that the information within can easily be found and understood. The addition of pictures, graphics and diagrams will enhance the manual and make it easier to understand.
Often if the manual is too bulky, it is easier to have it in separate sections; examples of which could include: Administration, Marketing, Managing the Business etc. This will make it even easier to use.
The best way to provide updates to the franchisee is by having the manual loaded on a web page. A separate section should be created which just deals with regular updates. This way the franchise can easily update his manual without having to print a new one every time certain pages are modified or improved.
A well designed operator’s manual will lead to less headaches for the franchisor and ultimately to more successful franchisees. This in turn will lead to more enquiries for the franchise opportunity.