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Franchise Operations Manual

Your franchise operations manual is potentially the most important piece of documentation you will create as part of the franchising process.


Your franchise operations manual is potentially the most important piece of documentation you will create as part of the franchising process. 

An extensive document, the franchise operations manual sets out everything your potential and existing franchisees need to know about the company, their role as a franchisee and the way that they will run their franchise unit as part of the larger franchise collective.

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What Is A Franchise Operations Manual?

The franchise operations manual, in its simplest form, acts as a how-to guide for franchisors and franchisees, with set guidelines and advice on every aspect of the company. Typically a full franchise operations manual will be between 100-300 pages, and sets out how almost everything in the franchise system is carried out, including images to clearly represent and show the standards of the business. This means that as a document, it has several roles within the business, for both franchisors and franchisees, including:

Understanding for Franchisees

A tool to help potential franchisees understand your business, standards, systems and expectations before they commit to a franchise agreement with your organisation.

Training Guide

A training guide for franchisees that helps them to set up their franchise unit and give them all the assistance and help they need to become an established, successful and profitable franchise.

A Point of Reference

A point of reference for all franchises, whether they are brand new or well established. The operations manual gives all franchisees the opportunity to ensure they are carrying out their day-to-day operations in line with the organisation as a whole, as well as what to do in processes that aren’t necessarily standard for an individual franchises, such as disciplinary proceedings for employees or how to proceed in emergency situations.

Standardise Finances

A tool to standardise and optimise finances between franchise units. For example, dedicated suppliers and other areas in which the franchise as a whole can utilise economies of scale are included in the operations manual, as well as systems and processes around things like labour costs and other expenditures.

Quality Control

A quality control document, which can be used as a legal document to help enforce the standards of the franchise if necessary. Without a franchise operations manual or similar quality control document, the franchisor has no legal way to enforce their operational standards across the franchise network.

Define Roles

A document that clearly sets out the role of the franchisee in the organisation. This helps to protect the franchisor in the case of legal action against a specific franchise.

When writing a franchise operations manual, it is vital to understand that the rules, regulations, standards and processes in the manual are not set in stone, and are subject to change as the business grows and develops. As new products and services are added or removed, new staff roles implemented, the franchise network grows and a huge variety of other internal changes happen, the operations manual will adapt and change as well.

Developing a high-quality, extensive operations manual creates a solid basis to work from as you begin your franchise, and makes it easy to grow the operations manual alongside the business. At The Franchise Company, we create all of our documentation with this in mind, to set you up for success in the long term and to help foster independence and strong leadership within the franchise.

Why Do I Need A Franchise Operations Manual?

A franchise operations manual is a necessity for any new or existing franchise, as they have several important roles for both franchisors and franchisees.

Operations manuals allow franchisors to implement standards and quality control across the franchise network, and ensure that the customer experience with the franchise is always the same. It’s also important from a legal standpoint, as the operations manual clearly sets out the franchisee’s role as an independent contractor for the business, meaning that the franchisor isn’t liable for errors made by the franchisee, if they are a result of the franchisee not following the standards set out in the operations manual.

As a franchisee, the operations manual is an invaluable resource. It contains the entire day-to-day operations of the franchise, and allows them to carry out the operations required by the business, to the standards set out by the franchisor. Having an extensive operations manual prevents difficulties or issues arising where the franchise is in a situation they are unfamiliar or don’t know how to proceed with. It also means that the franchisee doesn’t have to waste their time trying to get answers to any day-to-day questions directly from the franchisor.

As a franchisee, the operations manual is an invaluable resource for the day-to-day operations of a franchise.

What Goes Into A Franchise Operations Manual?

The contents of a franchise operations manual can vary wildly from company to company, due to their size, industry, levels of control and a wide range of other factors. However, generally the operations manual should always contain some level of information about:


The responsibilities of the franchisor


The responsibilities of the franchisee

The Franchise

The standards of the franchise

How detailed your franchise operations manual will be will depend entirely on who is writing it. Generally, more in-depth and comprehensive documents are put together by a franchise consultant than by a franchisor, as they have the time and expertise to dedicate to drawing up an operations manual. However, the type of business, the size of the franchise network and the level of independence franchisees have, among a variety of other factors, will impact on the length and depth of the franchise operations manual.

What Every Operations Manual Should Include

A good franchise operations manual should always include:

  • Instructions for, and examples of best practice in all of the operations of the franchise unit.
  • Rules and regulations for best health and safety practices, and the standards that must be followed for the safety of customers, employees, contractors and anyone else who comes into contact with the business at each separate franchise unit.
  • Guidelines, instructions and standards for hiring and training staff, as well as support and disciplinary processes for existing employees.
  • How to manage complaints and issues raised by both customers and members of staff, relating to both the franchise as a whole and the individual franchise unit.
  • The information required by the franchisor from the franchisee for franchise-wide audits, assessments and monitoring, as well as the frequency of regular audits, assessments and monitoring activities.
  • Processes relating to financial management of the franchise, including cash desk processes and which expenditures are covered by the franchisor and the franchisee. It should also detail instructions on how to use and implement any financial systems required as standard by the franchisor.
  • Manuals and instructions for equipment and software to be used by the franchisee, including details of support lines for every piece of equipment and software required by the franchisor.
  • A list or lists of approved suppliers if the franchisee is required to source the supplies for their unit.
  • Marketing system details, including how to access and distribute marketing materials in line with the policy of the franchisor.
  • Brand management and protocols for the use of visual branding, and any rules and restrictions on how visual branding can be used by franchisees.

Most franchise operations manuals will contain all of this information and more, depending on their size, scope, industry, structure and many other factors. Within each of these sections, the respective responsibilities of the franchisor, franchisee, and the standards expected by both parties should be laid out in great detail, to leave no room for interpretation or mistakes on the end of either party.

How Do I Write A Franchise Operations Manual?

Writing a franchise operations manual can be an arduous task, as it is an incredibly long, in-depth and detailed document. For franchisors to write their own operations manual, it can take a huge amount of time and you may not know exactly what to include.

An experienced writer of franchise documents, like our consultants at The Franchise Company, have years of experience creating bespoke franchise documents tailored completely to your organisation and protecting you from difficulties, misunderstanding or any other issues that may arise due to an incomplete or inaccurate franchise operations manual.

Your franchise operations manual should be written clearly and unambiguously. It doesn’t need beautiful prose or long-winded descriptions, it simply has to be understood by a wide variety of people and give franchisees all the information they need. Try not to use too much jargon or too many acronyms, unless they are well explained or truly necessary to ensuring your operations manual can be clearly understood. The franchise operations manual should also not be a persuasive document, and while the information in it can be tailored towards potential franchisees, it is not to be used to sell the franchise to them.

The document should be divided into sections that make sense for your business, and you should create the document with usability in mind. An extensive contents page, numbered pages, the use of graphics and images and clearly divided sections and subsections that are easy to navigate will all help to make your documents more user-friendly. You should also include the date that the document was most recently modified, to allow franchisees to ensure that they have the most up-to-date version of the operations manual.

It is far more secure, not to mention far easier, to distribute the franchise operations manual digitally. This makes it much easier to edit and update, and means that franchisees can easily search and find whatever they need in the day-to-day running of the franchise.

Why Choose The Franchise Company?

The franchise operations manual is one of the most important documents you will create as a new franchise owner, and having a high quality document will not only make life easier for you and your franchisees, but will also help protect you in case of legal disputes and issues.

Many franchise consultants have experience and in-depth franchise operations manual templates, and can write documentation for organisations moving into a franchise model, but may leave certain information out, put irrelevant information in or create a document that is otherwise not fit for purpose because they don’t understand your business and how it works.

This is one of the reasons some franchisors will choose to write their own operations manual using one of the hundreds of templates you can find online. As you know your business better than anyone else, it might make sense for you to put together this type of document yourself and adapt the template to fit your business model. However, it is very likely that you don’t have any experience writing such an in depth and important document, and so may leave yourself open to legal difficulties and other inaccuracies. The franchise operations manual is also an extensive document, and can take thousands of hours for a franchisor to put together on their own, alongside running the business and going through the franchising process, meaning it just might not be feasible for the business owner to write their own documentation.

When you work with The Franchise Company, you’ll get the best of both worlds. Our team of franchise consultants have years of experience and so understand exactly what needs to go into a franchise operations manual to ensure it is legally sound and fit for purpose. We’ll also ensure we have a great understanding of your business - as part of our evaluation process, we spend time with you, at your business location, examining every part of your business to determine your viability and give us the information we need to write high-quality documentation. We deeply examine how you carry out your operations and marketing, as well as how your business organises its finances, to understand what makes it tick. This means that we are perfectly placed to put together franchise operations manuals that contain all the information you need, and are of a high standard, tailored to your business.

As part of the franchising process with The Franchise Company, you’ll also have one consultant from the start to the end of your franchising process, so you know that information won’t get lost between consultants, and that your consultant truly understands what you and your business require from your documentation.

To find out more about our bespoke franchise operations manual writing services, or to arrange a conversation with one of our experienced consultants, contact The Franchise Company today, and see how we can help create franchise operations manuals and other franchise documentation to help make the franchising process for your business simple and successful.

This page was written by:

The Franchise Company Team

With over 90 years of combined experience within the Franchising sector, we’re a specialist franchise consultancy firm affiliated to The British Franchise Association.

+44 0333 305 9974