WHY MANUALS MATTER
in this article:
Good manuals are the cornerstone of successful franchise systems, says Dr Callum Floyd
Great franchising is about the transfer of a successful and established business model from a franchisor to a franchisee. Franchise manuals communicate the knowledge, guidelines, requirements, key practices and tasks that are essential for making a success of the franchisee’s business on a local level. At the same time, they set out how to do so in a manner that builds the brand for all parties in the franchise system.
Franchise manuals also have an important legal status, because the franchise agreement invariably requires franchisees to adhere to certain operating requirements and restrictions as contained in the franchise manuals. For all these reasons, good franchises require good manuals.
Franchisees often invest tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in their new business, so they deserve to receive not just a brand but a proper franchise system – including well thought-out and documented functions and processes. These need to be written in a format for franchisees to understand, learn and refer to when necessary.
In turn, the franchise manuals support franchisee training. Both during and following training, franchisees should be assessed to ensure that they understand the key processes and have the skills needed to operate the business and follow the system.
Every business has some common functions that need to be addressed; however, every franchise is different, which is why it is dangerous to apply a ‘cut and paste’ approach.
Such areas include business planning; products and services; marketing, sales and customer service; operations; technology; finance and administration and; legal obligations. Other functions may relate to different stages of the franchisee life cycle, such as induction processes and key responsibilities, or, later on, processes related to the renewal, sale, transfer or termination of the agreement.
Good franchise manuals are also needed to help ensure brand alignment. Without a good manual and clear, up-to-date standards, there is no anchor for what is and is not acceptable. Well-written manuals help reduce ambiguity and avoid misunderstandings or discontent.
Developing a good culture in a franchise system is crucial for long-term franchisee satisfaction, which is why the tone of the manuals matters, too. The way things are framed and described can have an important bearing on how franchisees feel about their role and the type of franchisor they have.
Franchise manuals should be seen as one of the most important elements in the creation, management and ongoing innovation of a sustainable franchise system. They must also reflect current legal obligations. That’s why, if you’re a franchisor, it’s worth investing in the specialist help you need to create and maintain manuals that help you manage the business and help franchisees grow theirs.
And if you are considering buying a franchise, don’t forget to ask to see the manuals first. If they’re detailed, well-written and regularly updated, it’s a sign of a good franchisor.
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This material is copyright © Franchise NZ Marketing Limited, Franchise New Zealand ™ magazine and Franchise New Zealand On Line . While it may be downloaded for personal use, no part may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the specific written permission of the publisher.