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How to Get Started Creating a Franchise Training and Operations Manual

As an emerging franchisor, you can’t expect franchisees to succeed without providing them a resource detailing your proven framework. After all, access to a franchisor’s expertise and support is one of the main reasons aspiring entrepreneurs pursue franchising in the first place.

Especially if you don’t yet have franchise prospects, it can be easy for emerging franchise brands to put their training and operations manuals on the back burner. However, your operations manual is not only the foundation of your business model, it should also be the foundation of your training program – and it’s not something that you can neglect or hastily throw together at the last minute.

Your operations manual is central to your brand’s replicability and quality control across markets. More importantly, it’s at the core of your prosperity as a franchisor. Since the operations manual is so important, it would behoove you to hire a franchise professional to assist in developing your operations manual. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Make an Outline

The first step to create your franchise operations manual is to write a bare-bones outline including all the areas and details you need to cover. Some version of this outline will probably later become your manual’s table of contents. Since the items included in your table of contents will depend on your industry, you can check out what similar companies in your sector have included in theirs.

Nailing down the exact details to include will also become easier if you have already worked with a franchise professional to craft your franchise agreement. If your franchise agreement lists an obligation, your franchise operations manual should explain how a franchisee should fulfill it. These two documents work in conjunction with each other.

As an emerging franchisor, you may still be in the throes of improving your systems and learning operational best practices through trial and error. So, your outline and eventual manual may be less lengthy than those of established franchisors, but you can easily update and hone your guidelines as you grow and improve. Consistently updating your manual ensures it will remain a relevant reference point for franchisees as your system grows.


  1. Use the Right Language

In your franchise operations manual, use clear, concise and unambiguous language. Since the manual is a technical document, you should write it with a technical style – so your verbiage will be much different than what you use in marketing materials or even internal communications. The manual shouldn’t be written to be friendly or to persuade its audience, but instead should be designed to get information across as clearly and cleanly as possible.

This technical style will not only more effectively communicate your guidelines, it will also protect you from legal hassles later on. There are innumerable franchise liability issues that could arise from a poorly written document, so you need to go through each chapter with a fine-toothed comb to ensure there is no gray areas.


It’s not always necessary to have a franchise professional draft your entire manual. Since you know your systems best, you could probably more efficiently write your operations guidelines. But once you’ve completed each chapter, you should have franchise and legal experts edit and review the content to ensure you avoid any ambiguity.

  1. Include All Necessary Details

This is another area where it’s best to collaborate with members of your business and franchise experts alike. Your operations manual should include as much as detail as possible regarding the operational practices franchisees should follow. While you should list which obligations franchisees must fulfill, it’s just as important to detail how they are supposed to go about that.

Operational details will obviously vary from brand to brand, but should include, at a minimum:

  • Staff hiring, training and motivation guidelines
  • Financial management details and systems
  • Manuals and instructions for any equipment or software franchisees should use
  • Marketing system details
  • Financial management details and systems
  • Audits, assessments and monitoring practices
  • List of approved suppliers
  • Best practices to produce the highest-quality product or service possible

Beyond these areas, there are many other specifics you need to cover, so it’s always a good idea to consult with others – from your vertical industry and the franchise industry – to receive their input.


Prioritizing Your Operations Manual

Franchisee recruitment may seem like the most pressing matter for emerging franchisors. But, before you can even begin building your system, you need to lay the groundwork first. Creating a detailed, comprehensive operations manual will not only become a selling point in recruitment efforts, it will ensure the long-term success of your brand.

Since the operations manual presents such an integral part of your franchise brand’s foundation, it’s not something you can afford to skimp on. And, due to operations manual and training programs’ complex and highly-detailed nature, you’re well-advised to hire a professional to help you develop these materials.

Not only will a comprehensive operations manual foster system-wide quality control, it will protect you from the potential legal implications of having a poorly written document. Even if you’re operating on a limited budget, the initial decision to invest in adequate brand protection is much more cost-effective than the alternative.

Winmark Franchise Partners

For help creating a franchise training and operations manual, turn to Winmark Franchise Partners. With 30 years of franchising experience and more than 800 franchise owners representing more than 1,200 locations for five brands, Winmark Franchise Partners can help grow your brand through sound strategy and expert franchising advice. For more information, contact us here or at (844) 234-8520.