If you are contemplating franchising your business, one of the essential tasks will be to document your operation for the purpose of guiding and mentoring franchisees about how to meet and understand your standards and execute the brand with integrity and loyalty. While you may have heard that franchises require Operations Manuals, documentation might be a task that we imagine confronting “sometime in the future”.
It takes dedicated time, period and resources to create your first set of manuals, and this inevitably competes with the day-to-day operation of your business. But, if we wait too long, we will find that the documentation process may slow down – significantly – once we’re ready to move forward with franchising.
Many business owners heading toward franchising have difficulty documenting your business, but it’s a hurdle that’s worth the hassle; your franchise manual library serves as the DNA for the replication of your concept. While there are some other ways to convey the standards and core procedures of your brand, these all build upon the content written in the Operations Manuals. Your franchise system’s library of manuals becomes the core reference materials for both franchisees and corporate personnel.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN FRANCHISE MANUALS?
This franchise enables us to break content into the most user-friendly organization, with appropriate information distributed at the right time to the appropriate people.
● A Start-Up Manual addresses each and every activity required of franchisees from the time they sign their franchise agreement, to the time they open their doors for business. Its purpose is to provide clear instructions about site selection, consideration and build-out requirements and approvals, pre-opening marketing, timelines, and a host of other administrative launch details.
● An Operations Manual addresses franchisees’ obligations in the areas of brand standards, and any critical procedures that may be applicable to meeting those; financial management, including reporting and fees due to the franchisor; and marketing requirements and approvals, among other intervals.
Additional manuals may include:
● Employee Training Manuals: Because the franchisor wants to enable franchisees to significantly train the personnel, most franchisors also develop material that franchisees can adapt for new employee training.
Note: It is most generally the franchisee’s job, not the franchisor’s responsibility to train employees. Within the limitations we’re anticipating flowing from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), franchisors will likely be focusing more on training the franchisees’ management teams and, through them, their staff.
● Architectural Guide: This is created by an architectural firm and provided to franchisees for the architect to adapt to the site.
● Local Marketing Manual: This includes local marketing tactics and addresses how to use them effectively.
● Brand Guide: This includes specifics about what is and isn’t permissible regarding logo usage and tagline usage. Any established formats, colours, and sizes of the visuals associated with the brand are also included.
● Prep, Recipe, and Build Manuals: This includes detailed recipe information and also includes how the plate is presented.
● Food Safety Manual: This includes food safety and sanitation for food and beverage management and employees as well.
● Technical Manual: Instructions related to building or assembling the product or implementing a service.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO NOW?
If you’re aspiring to become a franchisor, but have not developed the associated legal documents, we can and should begin making progress on documenting processes and procedures in the areas above that relate to your business. For the Start-Up Manual, the following information:
● Square footage requirements
● Electrical and plumbing requirements
● Equipment requirements and vendor contacts
● Furnishings and vendor contacts
● Signage and vendor contacts
● Smallwares and vendor contacts
If we have records for these items, sift through them and you’ll be ahead of the game. If we also happened to be opening another location now or in the near term, make notes of all criteria we are using in selecting a new site, as well as what costs are involved. While the latter does not need to be in a Start-Up Manual, we will be asked for estimates of opening expenses for the creation of your legal documents.
For an Operations Manual, start establishing standards for your brand, if we haven’t already. Are there time standards for service delivery? Are there methods that must be used to ensure a quality product or service? If yes, then write down the steps. Start creating checklists for daily procedures that future franchisees can use to easily systematize operations. Are there scripts your team uses for sales visits, or phone scripts for greeters? If we have an approach that works with prospects and customers that represent your business well, document this with the aim of sharing it with franchisees.
While documenting your business is time-consuming, it is a necessary investment for franchising. Importantly, even if you opt not to franchise, your operation will benefit substantially by having written training tools for replacement managers and for opening new locations on your own.