How to Build a Franchise Operations Manual

franchise operations manualA Franchise Operations Manual is the most valuable asset for businesses with vision to scale-up, using the franchising method. However, it’s not for the faint of heart. Without a central, corporate operations manual, defining EXACTLY how all franchises are to operate, chaos will plaque all locations.

Important to realize, building a complete Franchise Operations Manual may take months to years to complete. Therefore, before starting the mission of building a procedure manual, count the cost in time and commitment.

However, once completed, the benefits of a comprehensive Franchise Operations Manual are priceless!

We have a free sample lists of documents used in building a Company Operations Manual.


Where Do You Start?

Document all processes for HOW the franchise business operates, from opening until closing, and from front to back. To be certain, if operation steps are left-out, the franchise is much more difficult to sustain.

Imagine, missing important steps and information for how a complex machine works. As a result, problems would occur in operating the machine effectively. Moreover, time wasted in learning to operate the machine by trial and error.

With that in mind, when choosing a PROCESS to map-out and document, have the person currently performing the process, write down step-by-step, how they do it.

NOTE: There will be missing steps on the first draft; however, it’s an important starting point. In addition, have others familiar with the process fill-in any missing steps they see, to achieve maximum results.

Finally, have someone totally unfamiliar with the process; perform the process with management observing. Whereby, management quickly identifies missing-steps, and the documented process, updated.

Consequently, when all franchise processes are created using this method, the franchise will operate like a well-oiled machine. Now that’s an OP Manual of which to be proud!

What Management Should Know in Mapping a Process

Consider the importance of an action-item or prompt to the process

  1. Don’t need it, the step/action-item prompt is so obvious, it can be left to memory
  2. Not very important to outcome of process completion; however, needs listed
  3. Very important to outcome of process correct completion; therefore, needs listed
  4. Extremely important; therefore, mark in bold, red, or a graphic added to bring attention.

Other Considerations for action-items/prompts

  • Step by step, how it’s performed.
  • Who is responsible for its completion?
  • What department is responsible for its completion?
  • The time or date for completion.
  • Is the person responsible for its completion trained on the process?
  • There is a beginning, middle, and an end of a process.
  • Therefore, all action items/prompts of the process, known to achieve consistent and verifiable results.
  • What are the costs/consequences of an action-item or prompt NOT completed?
  • Does top management have a good knowledge of this prompt?
  • What priority order should a prompt be on a document?
  • Does the prompt have verbiage that is understandable to everyone?
  • Does the prompt start with the Subject first?
  • What is the user’s knowledge of this prompt?
  • Does prompt need sub-prompt(s), i.e. alternative actions?
  • Should a prompt link to, or reference other documents, i.e. checklist, list, procedure, tasks etc.?
  • Who else in the organization is responsible for a certain prompt?
  • Is prompt added or referenced to others who are responsible via a checklist, procedure?
  • Are there others in the organization who need to have knowledge of the prompt?
  • Does the new action-item or prompt, need a new procedure, for assured performance?
  • Does the prompt reference equipment, tools, consumables, or documents, etc.?
  • Where do you store or inventory the items referenced by this prompt?
  • How do you keep track of items referenced by this prompt?
  • Does this prompt need emphasis with bold type, warning graphics, or colored text, etc.?

Franchise Operations Manual Building Blocks

Things to consider when downloading business processes out of your head and into a written Franchise Operations Manual:

Context and Understanding

The words used must plainly describe the actions and activity performed, whereby any member of the organization can easily understand.


Before implementing new processes, everyone the system/document affects should participate in sharing ideas or concerns as it relates to their job. These same people should also be involved in testing, revising and updating of the process.


Terminology should be consistent, whenever possible. For example, do not call an item a cell phone in one document and then refer to it as a mobile phone in another document. Simply stated, dealing with hundreds of terms is very confusing.  In addition, it’s helpful to standardize fonts, by using only one or two.


There must be no gaps or missing steps in information, logic, or design.


A follow-up system needed to ensure consistent utilization and performance of all processes. CAPA Corrective Action – Preventive Action is that follow-up system.


You need to reference documents to other frequently-used documents. Whereby, assuring no documents—lost, discarded or more importantly, FORGOTTON. The old adage, “out of sight, out of mind” is true!  Therefore, our DocDesigner™ has an important linking tool;  linking relevant documents and systems for easy locating. In fact, using this tool, every document becomes its own dashboard.

Final Approval

Leadership starts at the top in good business organization. Therefore, when delegating the task of building, implementing and updating documents or systems, the head of the organization should give final approval. More importantly, they must understand how all documents and updates affect the company-wide system, before giving final approval.

Naming and Numbering Documents

Good document management is crucial in building a great Franchise Operations Manual.

When naming a document, the name should be familiar, or commonly-used by people in the organization. EXAMPLE: Request for Leave or Leave Request. Numbering a Document should begin by using the Department abbreviation, i.e. GM = General Management Dept., AD = Accounting Dept., CS = Customer Service Dept. SM = Sales/Marketing Dept., etc. Then assign a number. We suggest at least four digits. Example: CS-0010

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Business Process Management for Franchises