By Anita du Toit

The operations manager oversees and has responsibility for all the activities in the franchise organisation and can significantly contribute to the success of the business. To achieve this, the operations manager must be creative, innovative and energetic in his efforts to improve processes, while using available resources to efficiently produce products and services to ensure customer satisfaction.

Depending on the organisational structure of the franchise company, the exact nature of the tasks performed by the operations manager may differ, but normally include:

  • mplementing strategic objectives: The operations manager must clearly understand the goals of the organisation and develop a clear vision of exactly how efficiently run operations will help achieve them. This involves the practical implementation of these goals to ultimately produce quality products or services, speedily, dependably, and cost-effectively.
  • Developing an operations strategy: Due to the wide range of decisions that have to be made in operations, the operations manager must have a clear set of guidelines which is aligned to the organisation’s long-term goals.
  • Designing products, services and processes: This involves determining the physical form, shape and composition of products, services and processes.
  • lanning and controlling: Deciding how the resources available to the operations department need to be applied and ensuring that it gets done properly.
  • Improving operations: Continually monitoring and improving the overall performance of the company’s operation.
  • Reducing production costs and increasing efficiency.
  • Increasing revenue by supplying good quality products and services.
  • Reducing the level of investment needed to produce products and services by effectively increasing the capacity of the operation.
  • Providing the basis for future innovation by building a solid base of operational skills and knowledge within the business.Operation managers play a central role in stabilising a franchise company’s policies and procedures across different business disciplines.

Competing practices

Managing any competing business practices within an organisation is a major challenge for an operations manager. Differences in business procedure from one department to another can have a detrimental effect on operations by impacting on efficiency.

Improving communication in an organisation can increase productivity. When information can get from one department to another quickly and accurately, it can speed up the pace at which the company can operate and insures that all necessary parties get the information they need to be productive.

The operation manager can streamline communications by instituting company-wide standards, so that all team members understand how the organisation operates and ensure that they follow those procedures.

Sustainability

Creating long-term customer and employee strategies, which acknowledge the franchise business’ impact on the social, cultural and economic environment, is an important aspect of the operations manager’s role.

The objective is to eliminate wastage and help the organisation to minimise negative effects on the environment and improve the well-being of consumers. A part of this is the development of business policies that encourage transparency.

Corporate reporting

Corporate reporting is another of the operations manager’s responsibilities and includes the compilation of financial and performance data, and reporting this data to all stakeholders. Keeping comprehensive records of profits and losses, as well as sales goals and expenses, is necessary in the assessment of the franchise organisation’s long-term viability.

Social responsibility

Looking at how the business engages with the local community is one of the operations managers’ specific responsibilities and he must ensure that the company cares about its surroundings and its customers on more than just a profit level. This can help raise awareness of the business and its brand and in this way it becomes a form of marketing and public relations.

Equipment upgrades

The operations manager has to analyse work functions and determine which equipment upgrades would improve productivity. This includes the manufacturing operations, office functions such as the computer network and office equipment, and improvements to the building itself.

Revenue collection

The operations manager is also in charge of billing and revenue collection. By analysing revenue collection procedures, the operations manager can create ways of collecting revenue quicker to make sure the company has cash on hand. This strengthens the company’s ability to expand its operations and negotiate purchasing deals with suppliers.

Training

Operations managers will work with the human resources department and departmental managers to develop more efficient ways for employees to do their jobs. In the course of analysing work functions and the efficiency of the work process, the operations manager determines ways in which employees can maximise productivity. He then develops a training programme in conjunction with the departmental manager to improve employees’ personal productivity.

Planning

Planning various company operations and activities is a pivotal part of the operations manager’s role. Together with the franchisor, he plans proactively to ensure all deadlines are met and expectations within the group are managed.

Controlling resources

The operations manager ensures that products and services are manufactured correctly, costed effectively and delivered on time, in accordance with the specifications and quality requirements of the company. This includes the management of stock inventory within stores and ensuring that all franchises function at the correct capacity. The operations manager is also involved in the implementation of payroll policies and procedures, and works closely with franchisees to ensure their stores are profitable.

Incentivising the operational manager

Not appropriately incentivising its management team, including the operations manager, potentially places a franchise company at as much risk of failure, as if it was under poor management.

There are various ways in which the operations manager can be incentivised at various stages of the franchise operation’s life cycle.

This can include various forms of share options in the business. Offering the operations manager an equity stake in the franchise business is a classic example of management incentivisation and is a good way of ensuring that a key, non-owner executive plays a decisive role in the success of the business.

No incentive scheme will turn a sub-standard employee into a world champion or completely turn around a struggling company. What it can do, however, is help companies retain their top team members and give them concrete reasons to make the extra effort that can transform the company’s bottom line.

Cash-based incentives

In its simplest form, a cash-based incentive will take the form of an annual bonus, which can either be discretionary or contractual, and will often be based on specific objectives being met.

The simplicity and flexibility of cash-based incentives may be more attractive and more commercially suited to motivating key employees because they can more readily see the fruits of their labour.

Training and development of managers

When developing a management team it is important to recognise that most people will need some training to fulfill the roles required of them. Formal training may be appropriate for increasing their specialist knowledge, but the main support will probably be to help them grow in their management role.

Internal, less formal training sessions can also prove useful, and individuals may benefit from on-the-job training, distance learning, or part-time courses.

In addition to defined skills training, some thought should be given to developing team spirit and training managers in diversity and flexibility. Team-building exercises can play an important role in helping the management team to better understand and communicate with each other.

Professional performance measurement

Performance feedback should identify skills gaps, leading to training and future improvement. Performance assessment can usually be divided into measurement and evaluation.

Performance measurement concentrates on key performance indicators (KPIs), which are objective factors that can be clearly identified and measured, such as:

• Sales figures
• Production output
• Financial performance

Targets are the cornerstones of KPIs. Monitoring them should form part of a regular reporting system, such as written monthly reports. This should, however, not replace more informal and subjective feedback, for example, weekly progress meetings.

Conclusion

In addition to measuring objective factors using key performance indicators, all managers should be part of a formal appraisal system to evaluate personal development.

A good appraisal system can be extremely useful in identifying support needs, and is also one of the best ways of judging performance, particularly in areas that are not so easy to measure. An appraisal allows personal objectives to be discussed and relevant tasks and targets to be agreed on.