In franchise companies, operations and procedures manuals are often compiled because they are a requirement of doing business. For many franchisors it is a case of being able to tick the box and so long as they have that “fat file” to prove they have a manual, they feel they are compliant. The sad part however is that the manual is mostly placed on the shelf to gather dust and its policies and procedures are not implemented and applied in the business. In addition to this, communication between franchisors and their franchisees is at an all-time low with many franchisees being of the opinion that they are being left out in the cold.
Based on discussions with franchisors, franchisees and other operators within the franchise sector, here are some of the reasons why operations manuals aren’t effectively used:
- Procedures are out of date. Unfortunately, this is a common reason why management and staff at operational level do not utilise the operations manual. Business in many industries and sectors are experiencing rapid and ongoing changes and if your internal procedures and documentation don’t keep up, the information very soon becomes outdated and irrelevant. The manual will then be ignored and forgotten by operators and staff in the network.
- Procedures are too long and wordy. They are often also unclear, complicated or difficult to understand and so often the resources, such as checklists or other templates, are not provided making the procedure incomplete and rather difficult to implement.
- Procedures are not consistently implemented and applied across all business units. It’s not good enough drafting an operations and procedures manual, issuing it to the network of operators and expecting that they will take the initiative and implement the procedures in their businesses. The procedures need to be applied consistently, across all business units by the franchisor, the head office representatives (field support staff), franchisees and management in the business to be effective. Furthermore, if penalties apply for non-conformance these too must be applied fairly and consistently throughout the network.
- Procedures are hard to find or locate. Hard copy documentation is often filed and locked away in an office or storeroom making it very difficult for operators and staff to access. So much of the information contained in a franchise manual is not made available to the people who need it most which results in instructions and messages being passed down verbally in many cases. This type of communication is open to misinterpretation by the parties involved and often leads to inconsistencies in operation.
- Procedures are inconsistent using different formats. In instances where the operations manual is drafted in-house, often there are several people involved in the drafting process. This results in several different writing styles and procedures which are not uniformly written thus causing some confusion at operator level.
Over the years we have seen the move to online operations manuals however, for the most part the manual remains in the same format and only gets presented differently, i.e. online. It now sits on the online “shelf” gathering dust and many franchisors fall into the same trap of drafting their manual but then fail to keep it up to date and relevant.
So, what is the solution?
Well for starters, franchise companies should move away from the staid, boring and outdated operations manual. Who uses it anyway?
Franchisors should be looking for a system that assists them in the management of their franchise network while at the same time communicating the important business information in a consistent and current manner.
- What if you had a way of encouraging your operators to access the online operations manual more frequently and actually use the information and resources you provide to them more effectively?
- What if you had a platform to communicate important business information to your network efficiently and timeously?
- What if you had a way of managing the information you provide to the network and a way to verify that all concerned had accessed and read the communications?
- What if you could update your operational information and make it available to franchisees in real time?
- What if you could conduct all store visits and audits and upload these online making them available immediately to both head office staff and franchisees thus creating such records with action items and follow up dates?
Like what you’re reading so far? Then we have the solution for you…
Franchising Plus, in conjunction with Worktrainer has developed an online franchise management solution (FMS) ideally suited to the management and support of franchised businesses. The FMS provides for a best practice online modular manager process which enables the franchisor to deploy the business information (of which the operations manual is a part) and customised management solutions to drive business disciplines. The platform allows for the dissemination of current information as well as network management through online checklists, meeting minutes, training etc. all from one central point thus increasing compliance and reducing operational risk.
This offering is relatively flexible, allowing for resources to be tailor-made to the franchisor requirements, and includes the many services, features and applications, contact us for more information on these.
The FMS is a secure web-based platform and boasts the following features:
- It is instantly available
- Always current
- Password protected
- Provides for safe record storage
- Is accessible anywhere on most devices
- Easy to operate
- Is set up to ensure quick and simple processes
- Provides step-by-step instructions to users
- Zero user-resistance
For more information and to set up a personal demonstration of what the franchise management system can do for your business, please contact Franchising Plus