Franchise Operations Manual Tips


The franchise operations manual is a franchisee’s how-to-guide. It tells them what they can do, what they need to do, and how they should go about it. Here at FC we see countless franchise operation manuals that are written in every way possible to help the franchisee run their business. Here are some of the key mistakes we see.

1. Franchise operations manuals are not current

Too often we see manuals that are not regularly updated and maintained. A process may have changed three times, all of the current franchisees may be aware of the changes – but what happens when a new franchisee joins the team and starts reading the old, outdated procedures? Chaos.

Assign the task of someone reviewing all current manuals, and a time interval in which the manuals will be reviewed.

2. Franchise operations manuals are being used as employee manuals

There’s a difference between a franchise operations manual and an employee handbook. The operations manual isn’t designed to tell the store manager how they should do their job – it’s a tool used by the franchisee to run their business.

Ensure that you have a clear understanding of the different types of manuals that can be found within the business.

3. Policies are defined without support procedures

Policies and procedures are designed to work together. We often come across systems with well-defined policies telling franchisees that they must do one thing or another – but with no documented procedures, how are they meant to know how to comply with the policies?

Here’s a guide on how to write a procedure that will help your franchisees with compliance.

  • What to do: the overarching task
  • Why do it: what is the purpose or intended outcome, who benefits, legislative obligation, etc.
  • When to do it: ad-hoc, periodically – weekly, fortnightly, etc.
  • How to do it: the process, the steps, the tools, etc. This should include any supporting documents, such as screen shots (of processes), videos, images, checklists, forms, reference guides, etc.

4. Who writes your operations manual? It’s probably in the wrong perspective

The franchise operations manual should be written keeping in mind that the franchisee is the intended audience. Franchisees are operational business owners – they want to know why they should do something, how they should do it, and what resources they should use to make their life easier.

The best manual writers are people with the ability to write well with attention to detail, work to deadlines and have a sense of urgency, and have the capability of building relationships with key personnel within the business.

5. How do franchisees access the franchise operations manual?

In today’s digital world, online platforms can provide a hub for communication and information which allows franchisees to search for relevant policies, procedures, forms and templates. This allows for efficient updating by the franchisor, as well as acknowledgement that the franchisee have read the updates.

Although we are seeing a shift towards online platforms, every franchise system is different – and a hard copy version may work better for your franchisees.


The franchise operations manual is just one component that supports the franchise network to operate smoothly. Remember that the franchise induction program, and any other documentation must all sit within the one family of documents – using the same styling and language, similar terminology and targeting the right audience.


When was the last time that your manual was comprehensively reviewed? Maybe it’s time to have a chat with Dan Sheehan from FC to see how we can help your manuals get up to scratch.