The operating manual furnished by most companies will provide you with the knowledge you need to operate that business. It’s a good reference book for you as it establishes the rules, standards and specifications regarding what has to be done to accomplish a task, or to present a certain product or service. Essentially an operations manual is an expansion of the relevant material contained in the franchise agreement.
It is actually possible to have more than one manual for a franchise. Separate manuals for training, cooking instructions, dress standards, cleaning requirements and other elements are often issued.
Some companies spend huge amounts of time and money developing manuals for their business owners to follow.
These companies are inevitably the ones that have become successful, because of their ability to effectively standardise systems in all their franchise stores.
As a franchisee, you are forced by the manual to organise your operation. It defines a specific job responsibility as well as tasks which you have to perform. It’s always good to know what’s expected of you or how to do something. The manual gives professional assistance every time you need it.
Operating manuals are more than an asset; they provide excellent protection for the franchised business concept, establishing the rules, standards and specifications of the franchise to help ward off threatening lawsuits and other legal actions.
It also forces the franchisor to organise and define certain job responsbilities and tasks. An operations manual will typically follow much the same format as a business plan. It should have a title page with the company name and logo if possible. The inclusion of a table of contents will make it clear to the readers where everything is in the document. The manual should have an introduction and an executive summary of the franchise to provide readers with some background information.
What are the elements of an operations manual?
The core of an operations manual will deal with all procedural requirements that are standard across all franchise outlets, which may include the following:
Legal requirements – such as business registration, council permits and signage limitations.
Opening and closing procedures – hours of operation, routines.
Accounting – correct procedures for record keeping techniques such as budgeting, profit & loss, cash flow, petty cash reimbursement, payroll, bank reconciliation, invoicing, sales and accounts control.
Stock – suppliers of stock, maximum and minimum amounts, ordering, etc.
Security procedure – locking doors, windows, alarm system, and so forth.
Cleaning and hygiene matters – cleaning particulars and routine hygiene checks.
Personnel – recruitment, interviewing and selection techniques, training, wages and evaluation.
Telephone manner – correct greetings, how to take orders over the phone, etc.
Dress standards – correct uniform and appearance.
Emergency procedures – course of action in case of fire or other emergency.
Liaison with franchisor – how often to contact franchisor, key points to pass on, etc.
System of operation – cooking, preparation, job time, customer service, general day-to-day matters.
The operating manual will become your bible, and if the company has invested time and money into developing a manual, you will have better chance of succeeding than a franchisee who runs a business without one.