How to Digest Information in the Operations Manual

Your first glimpse of the franchise operations manual will occur on loan, as part of the receipt of the Franchise Disclosure Document’s Item 11. Item 11 refers to the following four categories: Assistance, Advertising, Computer Systems and Training. Shortly after the transactional process is complete, all franchisees will be provided with a permanent copy. So, what’s typically included in this all-important guide called the franchise operations manual?


We’ve set aside an entire blog to explain what’s inside…

By definition, an operations manual is an all-in-one guide to the processes and procedures by which the franchisor expects all franchise owners to adhere. Often it includes an overview of the brand’s goals, go-to-market strategy, and the organization’s vision for success. Depending on the particular concept in question, there may be insights into real estate and site selection concerns, pre-opening and grand opening procedures, and how to run the day-to-day operation of the franchised business.

At its heart, the franchise operations manual is a comprehensive review of the roles and responsibilities assigned to both the franchisor and franchisee’s relationship. With thousands of franchise concepts on the market, with varying complexities, their respective operations manuals can be brief, or may run into the hundreds of pages. But all typically have the following topical sections in common:

  • Brand/Team introduction – an overview of the franchisor’s goals
  • Day-to-day procedures that ensure conformity to the brand’s operating standards
  • How to deal with the brand’s accounting and payroll systems
  • Operational systems/vendor relationships
  • Marketing/Business development
  • All things customer service-related
  • Personnel features, including training, hiring, promotion, and termination procedures

Depending on the industry, franchise operations manuals will spell out in detail what the brand offers in the way of goods and/or services. For instance, quick service restaurant (QSR) concepts always include the current menu and food preparation procedures. For service-related franchises, special attention is often given to managing the expectations of the guest or client experience.

There should also be a section that includes how to redress problems and issues with the brand’s corporate team. As well as information on how to access customer support, helplines, field training assistance, inspections, and annual franchisor/franchisee gatherings.

In summation, the franchise operations manual is a reference guide for running the business according to the standards set forth by the brand. They’re often described as living documents, which means they receive supplements and updates from time to time, based on need. Reviewing and understanding the franchise operations manual is key to running a successful business as a franchisee. They should be read (and understood) cover-to-cover. If you happen to come across a section that’s unclear or requires additional context, make sure you direct an inquiry to the right place.

Done right, a franchise operations manual will go a long way in setting and managing expectations on both sides of the business arrangement.

If you’d like to get started on an entrepreneurial journey of your own, where you’ll one day need to review a franchise operations manual of your choosing, FranNet of Canada can help you get started in the investigative process. With consultants serving every Canadian province, there’s a representative near you who also lives and works in your area. To find your local province consultant, simply follow this link and select “Canada” on the FranNet Franchise Consultant Directory page of our website.

Dec 15, 2021