Franchise Your Business: How to Write a Franchise Operations Manual

Writing a franchise operations manual can be a long and extensive process when done correctly, especially for a business owner who has never written one before and has the ongoing responsibility and time commitment of operating their business on a daily basis.


A Franchise Operations Manual should cover the following elements:

1.  The Operations Manual should be an accurate reference tool for the franchisee in order to help them learn, train and follow in operating the franchised business.  The manual needs to be broken down in order to be readable and understandable to the franchisee.  Sections and management of the operations manual layout should make sense and be simple to understand.

2.  The Manual should present well.  When a franchise buyer is looking at a franchise opportunity, they will want to see a document that looks substantial, professional and seems like you as the franchisor actually know something about the business and have value to add in the franchise opportunity.  Although the franchise buyer can't take it home, they should be allowed to see and flip through the franchise operations manual.

3.  The Franchise Operations Manual is an extension of the Franchise Disclosure Document.  This means that the document has a legal value and if drafted correctly, will act as a legal liability limiter for the franchisor.  The document should be drafted from the standpoint of protecting the franchisor in the case that the franchisee breaks the system or ends up in a legal battle for operating misconduct - the manual will be the franchisor's primary protection.  The Franchise Operations Manual also allows the franchisor to define and maintain consistency throughout the franchise network.


The Franchise Operations manual can be referred to the Bible of the Business and is usually a different layout than the Employee Handbook which would cover policies, basic employee procedures and some of the day to day responsibilities of employees.  If a Franchise Operations Manual is written the right way, it should lessen the amount of simple questions from franchisees.  It also should be read with some level of frequency....if it is sitting on the shelf collecting dust, it doesn't help anyone and it most likely has room for improvement.  The Franchise Operations Manual should be an integral part of the franchise training program and should be a road map for guiding the franchisee to a successful operation and startup for their business.

How Long Should an Operations Manual Be? 
An Operations Manual's length will greatly depend on the business, industry and franchise model.  Service, sales or territory-based franchise concepts can have a 200 page operations manual that will cover the business model in plenty of depth and do the job the right way while a 500 page operations manual for a restaurant or retail operation is not uncommon in many cases.  The length of the manual can be related to someone's weight - the attention should not be put on the number of pages, but more on the content, layout and format of the information presented.  In order to find out whether your franchise operations manual "works", try having a friend, family member or someone you know read the document and provide feedback prior to using this with a franchisee who has just invested in the business.  If they come back with descriptions like, "confusing, long, hard to understand", you probably haven't built the best franchise operations manual.

For assistance in developing and writing a comprehensive franchise operations manual, contact us:  (800) 610-0292 / [email protected]

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