Hello everybody, you’re listening to the franchise manual podcast brought to you by a friend man www.franman.net, the home of the online manual by FranMan. The franchise manual podcast is a behind the scenes look at all things franchise in the people that make it look easy. Now operating a franchise is not the same as running a small business. So if you’re thinking about franchising your business, then you really need to listen to the franchise manual podcast. This is episode 31 of the podcast, and we’re going to shake things up a little. Our topic today is the dreaded franchise operations manual. Yes, the ops manual is something that scares a lot of people, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it. It’s a really important element of the franchising process. And it’s one that you’re gonna want to get right. And it’s a topic that we haven’t covered yet on this podcast. I happen to be the only person that I know that is an expert on this topic, and I couldn’t really interview myself. So I’ve enlisted the services of Jack Monson to be our guest host today, as he interviews me on the topic of the franchise operations manual. Jack Matson is seasoned in social media marketing, franchise marketing brand journalism and public relations. He’s the chief revenue officer at social Joey and works with franchise systems national brands in their locations to get their local marketing hopping. But what makes him the perfect guest host for this podcast is that he’s the host of his own podcast called Social geek radio, and I couldn’t think of a better person to take my place today. So let’s get this episode rolling and talk about my favorite topic. franchise operations manuals. The franchise manual podcast brought to you by friend man, two, three. The franchise manual is the behind the scenes look at all things franchise and the people that make it look easy. We’re gonna make it
Jack Monson 02:15
hello geeks and welcome to Social. Wait a minute, that’s the wrong show. This is not social geek radio. This is the FranMan podcast. What am I doing? What Why am I here? My name is Jack Monson, your host for today and social media calls ciliary and we decided to be kind of fun here in late 2020 when everything else is crazy on this earth. For me to flip the script a little bit on my good friend kit Vinson. And have me interview him on the franchise manual podcast kit. Welcome to your show.
Hey, thank you so much. Feeling great. This is awesome. Being on the other side. You know the microphone looks the same from both sides. It’s weird.
Yeah. And you know, kit originally was going to ask me a bunch of questions. And my rules for podcasting is nobody gets to ask me any questions I asked the questions. So kit I’ll be asking you some very hardball questions today. So I hope you’re ready. I’m a little unprepared in that. I don’t know what episode number this is. I don’t know what date this is going to drop. But, but I’m ready to roll if you are pod nerd.
I am ready to roll Patna. Listen, it doesn’t matter what episode. Doesn’t matter what episode I think this is episode 30 or 31 or 32. And I don’t I don’t put dates out. Um, so you’re good to go, brother. Okay, good. rockin and rollin. Good. So
whether you’re listening to this in the year 2020, or the year 2022, it doesn’t matter because we’re going to talk about some stuff that really is kind of evergreen when it comes to franchising and operations in franchising. Before we get there, kid, I want to do what I always ask on my show and shows with a guest that I haven’t had on before. And find out a little bit about how you got into this crazy world of franchising. Tell me that story.
Yeah, that is an interesting story. So my brother, in my partner business is a franchise attorney. His name was Robinson. And I was boy, I was tossing around. I wasn’t tossing around. I finished graduate school and I was looking for a job. I’m gonna go back further than you asked because it’s kind of a story. And and I could I was I was looking for a job after graduate school and I couldn’t find one and my father in law at the time was a funeral home owner. And that got me into this industry called the death care industry, working for a casket companies working for funeral homes. Were Even for insurance companies all are centered around the death care industry. And after years of that I was ready to get out of it. I can’t take this anymore. I needed to get out of it. But it was hard, they won’t let you out the world, whatever the energy is of the world won’t let you out of that industry. And so I ended up taking a job as a salesperson for a radio station. A buddy of mine was a radio station worked for Viacom in New York City. And I said hey, I need to start from the ground up nobody’s gonna hire me because of my background. Give me a job I’ll I’ll take anything he goes well, there’s a cool new radio station called Jack FM interesting name and your
system. Yeah, I love those guys.
Yeah. And so I gotta I was this I was selling airtime. Holy cow. What a tough gig that was.
Boy oh boy. Good to go from funeral home work. And the death care industry to selling airtime on local radio? Brother, you want to talk about the death care industry
Well, yeah, why do radio sales guys are like every meme you see about salespeople on LinkedIn, and Facebook and so forth about you know, first day in sales and you see, you know, picture of baby Yoda, and six weeks into your new sales job and his old Yoda. That is totally based on radio sales guys. Franchise sales people have no idea what a great life they have. Compared to somebody who’s out there hawk and local radio airtime. Brother, I salute you. That was that was some combat duty right there, man.
It was tough. It was it was tough. You know, I reminded of this movie back from the 80s with Jack Lemmon. Glengarry Glen Ross.
When Gary Glen Ross. A B. C always be closing.
That’s right in the first place is a Cadillac Deville second place is a set of steak knives. Third place you’re fired.
Oh, do I have your attention now? What a great can see you all in the future a bunch of losers sitting around a bar? Yeah, I used to be in sales. It was a tough racket. Yeah, kid. A couple of I think Yeah. But yeah, IV for everybody who doesn’t really know the radio sales racket. Glengarry Glen Ross, that is perfect boiler room, very similar Death of a Salesman, any of any of those classics, that pretty much that pretty much shows you the life of a local radio sales rep. So you were doing that for Jack FM was that in Texas?
Yeah, it was in Dallas, Texas. And so my point I was trying to get to it, those the elements of those skills that you learn when you’re when you’re in sales and marketing, when you’re in whatever industry you’re in, that passes from industry to industry, so So I was able just to jump into it and do it. I was kind of moving through the ranks there. And one day I ran across this business and in my brother, who’s a franchise attorney, I used to call him and say, Hey, you got to talk to this company. This is the coolest deal they need to franchise. And this was one of those calls in said, what do you do? And he goes, Well, I’m trying to find somebody to do this manual for my client, in just one of the companies that had worked for was a startup company as a startup casket company. And they needed a national sales manager. And I had been in the industry for a long time, and I was working for them. But as a startup, if you’ve ever worked for a startup, you turn your head around you go, Okay, now and do a national sales, and now I’m doing marketing, and now I’m doing operations. And now we’re in the truck delivering one whatever it is, you have to do you do it. And one of the times I wrote a manual for him, the some of the operations manual. So I said, I said, Rob, how can how can we not do that yourself? You know, I’ve done that he goes, I just don’t have the bandwidth. And I said, Well, what are they going for these days? And he told me and I nearly fell out of my chair. It’s a what? Better than selling caskets and radio.
You know, it is kind of like selling caskets because everybody needs one,
right? Hey, do you know what? That’s a good analogy? I like that. Everybody needs one turn straight. So I asked him, I said, Well, you know, what are these things going for? He told me and I was blown and blown away. And I said, Hey, if you can’t find anyone to do that job, for that kind of money, I said, let’s let’s create the business and he goes, Okay, and we did. That was 2005 2005
great. And then you know, one of the things I always liked about your company and your brand was simply the name, franchise manuals, friend, man. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. It It tells people exactly what you do. And it’s memorable. And and in my little world of digital marketing and branding, that’s all you need. It’s got to tell people what you do. And it has to be memorable. So I met you at the IFA, I don’t know how many years ago, maybe a dozen. And, and that was my first recollection of you was, that’s a great name. That’s a great brand right there. So
thank you. Thank you. I was at one of the IFA mixers one year and you know, you go to if they end up with 8 million business cards, and you try to take notes on them if you can, if somebody gives you a card that you can actually take a note on nowadays, they’ve got some of these, everything’s all glossy, it’s like, Don’t give me that stupid glossy card, I can’t write on you, somebody can write your write some information about you on
Yeah, if you have a glossy card, you better have a Sharpie, you better
bring a Sharpie with you, or just throw them away, throw them away and get a card that people can write on and make whitespace. So we write notes about what you do, especially if your logo or your company name says, spandex professionals, it’s like what do you do, oh, we span the dexterity spectrum. For us, I don’t know what you do by looking at the name of your company or your name, or anything, and I have no idea what you do. And especially if I can’t write on your card. So I ended up throwing all those cards away and I wanted a name. You know, the original name when we first met the name of the company was was franchise manuals, LLC. And I’ve said I want there to be no question. When somebody I don’t really care if my name is in my company name, some some people need to have their last name and their company and I get it. I was not that kind of person. I want my company name to tell you exactly what we do without question. And so when we moved from friend franchise manuals, LLC to friend, man, Inc. You know, we still put the word franchise manuals underneath it, because we want there to be no question on the business card. But for now implements?
Yeah, no, I think I think that was a great move back to those business cards. I don’t care what color your company colors and logos are. Don’t make your business card so dark that somebody can’t write on it. And you know, I guess we’re I guess we’re giving tips for an IFA convention that ever happens again.
I’ll tell you this. I tell Gary, Gary is Gary has been with me. He’s part owner, the company out there. He’s been with me since 2006, I think. So I told him I said next time we’re getting we made the mistake of making our business cards with that scanner code on the back the RFC code, whatever it’s called,
I forget what it’s called. Yeah, yeah. And like the QR codes, the QR
code, the QR code, and I said, this is nuts. I’m not doing this again. And next time I’m putting lines, I’m putting ruled lines on the back. So you can literally take Oh, it’s on the back of my card,
on the back of your white business card. Put in kind of inky handwriting as if someone wrote it while they were to call Kitt tomorrow. Bye, bye, bye. And someone will look at that card and say, oh, man, I guess I guess I’d better buy land man.
I don’t know. I love it. That is fantastic.
See what happens when we’re in lockdown for like six or eight months, and we can’t do any of this great stuff at an actual conference. And, you know, we’re just sitting around thinking of ideas. So there you go. Okay, I want to get back on track with franchise manuals, because I gotta tell you this. I’ve been in franchising for about a dozen years. And the number of manuals that I’ve actually read is pretty small, because it’s just kind of on the other end of the spectrum of what I’ve been spending my time on. So give me a bit of an overview of what’s included in a franchise manual. And why does everybody need one of these.
So, gosh, two franchise operating manuals, the what’s included is, is all customized to what industry we’re talking about. But there are some elements there are elements of the franchise operations manual part of the anatomy that will show up that are common to all manuals, so you have your introductory chapters you’ve got your pre opening chapter, right so a pre opening chapter is everything that that happens from the time the franchisee signs the contract the franchise agreement until the time they open their doors for business. Well, you can imagine there’s a lot of green that net but there’s a lot of things that have to happen between the time they sign that contract and the time they open their doors. So you’re talking about site selection you’re talking about build out you’re talking about you know setting up all your accounts with the with all your your vendors and in the all the preopening marketing and there’s all sorts of stuff that goes on and then the logically in chronologically you know we kind of go into human resources. So most franchise concepts are not one man one, one truck or one person, one truck. They are, they require a group of people. And so and so we want to talk to them about some HR stuff, and then you kind of move into operations. But when you get into operations, that’s where you get a lot of customization. For example, a restaurant would have a front of house, that’s everything from the counter to the front door, right in a back of house, it’s everything from that swing door that goes to the kitchen, to the back door, you may have a side of house, if you have a drive thru, that’s, that’s got a lot of operating detail to it, you may have a bar. So those are all operational chapters that kind of get separated out if you’re a food service company, and but other companies, they just you can pretty much lump everything into one operations chapter operating procedures chapter, and then you kind of move into sales. And some companies have a lot of content when it comes to sales, some companies are sales companies that happen to sell X, you know, some companies have they their entire operation is around generating leads, moving leads through the funnel closing. And you could, you could pluck out whatever it is, whether it be burritos, or whether it be software developed software training, or whatever it is, you can pluck that out and put anything in there. And they could make things move off the shelf, because their system is built around selling something. And there is the that is the operations of the business. And so So sometimes there’s a little overlap there on sales, but that marketing is typically a standalone. And then that’s another chapter. And that’s not just about how to market the company, but it’s about how to use the brand, and how to use the logo, what your what the system standards are. So there may be additional chapters after marketing, like additional resources, where we might list websites and books and things like that things to help a business person get along. But that’s those are typically the main elements of a franchise operations manual. So that was the first question that you asked before we move on to the second one. Do
you have an ah, yeah, I want to ask a little bit more about Yeah, some of those things. You You mentioned that some parts may be more customized than others. Tell me about that process of working with the brand to customize whether it’s the operations part, or maybe they do something really different in sales or marketing. And it’s not really the same as any other company? Do you work with that brand? To get it exactly right before it gets into anyone’s hands? Or what does what does that look like?
It is a process that friend, man, we produce custom franchise operations, manuals, and so on. So as I’m giving you the answers, as I’m giving the listener these this content, I don’t mean for this to be a friend man infomercial, but more about how you could if you want to, if you are developing your own manual, how you could go through and do that. And I’m going to tell you how we do it so that I help someone develop their own, everything’s all customized. And so we spend, they will spend three days on a site visit. And those three days are intense, and we tell them that we go I need an uninterrupted time we have our systems down, we’ve honed our systems to the point where I can take everything I need in a three day period, and actually a little bit less, and extract all the information that we need. But it requires a client to be off the telephone, out of meetings in the room with me sit down, the whole team sit down. And we start by creating the outline for their business. And that’s probably the first step in the customization to make sure that the manual that we produce is customized to their businesses, you have to have a roadmap. And that roadmap is is your table of contents. So when we’re looking at that, I will ask a lot of 65,000 foot questions about the business kind of newbie questions like I’m coming in from an outsider’s perspective. Tell me about your business. Tell me about this. Tell me about that. Now, there are some parts of of that roadmap that are the same for everybody, those introductory chapters are the same, you know, lots of HR content is the same because federal labor law, it doesn’t change. OSHA does change. Yeah, so. So some of that stuff is common to all manuals. And we want to make sure that we get that included. So we’ll use a generic outline to get started. I put that generic outline on our website for anyone who wants to write their own manual. You can go there and use that as a guide. But then, as you’re getting to what you do, I’m asking all sorts of questions about how they do what they do. And we’re creating together we’re creating the chapters, the sections, and then the sub sections. We’re fleshing out the chapters in the sections and the subsections to kind of give us a guide as we’ve go into the next phase of the project, which is the information gathering phase. So so we’ll go through in after It takes about two hours, three hours, sometimes more, depending on the business. And depending on how many shifts are making the stew, if there are too many shifts, you know, it takes a long time to get from zero to 100 on the table on the table of contents if people are arguing about what goes in it, but typically, it’s about half a day. And we’ll have a solid table of contents. And then from there, we look at their existing documentation, we call that legacy documents, we say, let me see your legacy documents, what do you have in place already, let’s see what we can use, what we can’t use, what’s out of date, what’s, what could be used, if it was up to date, and what is so far gone, you need to we need to kick it out. And then we want to find out finally, who the content experts are, who are the people and let’s look at each chapter section, subsection, let’s assign a name to that person, because I want to, I want to be talking to that person only because they’re the expert on that on that content. And then a chapter may have four or five different people who are content experts. And a particular subsection may have a different content expert than the section under which it resides. And so we just need to find out who those people are,
what I really like about that is you’re giving some of those people from the corporate team ownership of what’s in their section, and you’re setting them up to be the expert in HR marketing, you know, whatever their section is, because I think having that ownership and tell me if I’m wrong about this, but if you don’t have that kind of ownership or input from some of those executives, or you know, VP of marketing or something like that, six months down the road, they’re just going to not like it. Right? They’re going to not like that section because they weren’t consulted, and they didn’t have any input. So, you know, oh, you got this all wrong. Right? I can just hear that other marketing people say that a lot?
Well, it’s yeah, you’re absolutely right. It’s, it’s even more than that. It’s even getting the manual finished. And we might get through a site visit. And if we don’t have the right buy in, in what you’re talking about two different things one is buying, but one is actually getting the right content. And I need both, I need both. And from all levels, because we’re going to start a project and the bigger the company, the the more this is a danger of starting the project and never getting it across the finish line. Because we didn’t either we didn’t get buy in from the right people, or we didn’t get buy in from the people high enough where you can light fires under the right people.
So you’ve got all of these parts out there put together with subject experts, and then you bring it all together into one big piece, or what does that look like? So what
we did so far was we just created the outline, that’s what that’s when unique individual phase of the project, then we move into the next phase of the project, which typically, there’ll be 10 seconds in between phases on this one, but it will be I’ll take a digital voice recorder out, and I’ll put it on the table. I’ll start at chapter one page one of the outline, and work our way down in digitally record the conversation. I tell people, I don’t need to be the expert in any industry. In order to produce a world class custom franchise operations manual, what I need to be is in front of that expert. If I can be in front of that expert, I know how to ask the right questions to extract the information. And that’s that’s where this face cam comes in. So I’ll take a digital voice recorder up, put it on the table. And I’ll start asking questions. Now this is the phase of the project where it’s more than just asking questions and getting answers. And moving on to the next question. We are we I don’t like to put this piece on our any kind of advertising or on our shingle. We don’t call ourselves franchise consultants. Though we are we do a great deal of that not because we’re out there to say hey, we’re going to help you take your franchise from point A to point A to point B. But we’re going to we’re going through a process where we are uncovering every single stone in leaf on your business. And I am I am prying open areas of your attic that you’ve never been before. Or you’ve chosen not to go as a franchisor because you know, it’s all messed up down there. You know, it’s dirty back there. You’ve chosen to keep that closet door shut. And you’re just hoping it goes away and it doesn’t and I come here. Okay, we got to create your manual. Okay, what’s in this closet?
Oh, here’s my big spotlight. Yeah.
And I have to and I have to do that because we have to, we have to create system standards around everything. We got to create these systems and protocols. And it can’t just be part of your business as to be all of your business. And there are some areas that people’s business that they want to wish were gone or hope would go away or nobody’s really touched. And I have to come in there and I asked him a lot of questions and I tell people if I had a dime If I had a dime every time someone said, I don’t know, to a question, and I asked him, then I would not even be here on the show today, I would not be writing manuals at the I’m not a boat in the Bahamas, because I would be done already. Right? And there are a lot of questions that we asked, they go, I don’t know, you know, how do you what is your expectation of franchisees here, it is not the same, it will never be the same. running your business where you own it, and you have control over everything that’s running a small business is not the same doing that than it is than it is operating a franchise system. And so I’m going to ask you questions that you’re not going to know the answer to, and who’s going to fill that gap that I can’t just stop? If they say, I don’t know, I’ve got to draw from my exposure from my experience. So we’ve been doing this for 15 years, we’ve written over 200 operating manuals, and we’ve been exposed to a lot of different franchise system. And when I say exposed, I don’t mean, I don’t mean passively exposed like, oh, look, I just saw 711 were intimately exposed, we’re in the news, every nook and cranny. I mean, we’re all in it. We wrote the book on the company. So you, you can’t be exposed to all that stuff, and then come into a scenario and ask someone a question. They go, I don’t know. And you just sit there and go, Okay, go in the next question. You go, what, what you do is, hey, you know what, here’s how some companies do it. Other companies do it this way. And what I think really makes sense to you, based on what you’ve told me what I know, so far, if your company is to do something like this, let me help you formulate this system or this procedure, let me help you create that. And then that way, we can document it and move on. Well, that’s consulting that you would pay the, you know, 1000s of dollars for, we it’s part of our process, so we don’t charge extra for it. But that’s part of the process of creating an Operations Manual for us. Now, if you’re creating your own, you would that you wouldn’t get that but my point is, I guess earlier is first you first you create the outline, then you then you have to gather the content. That’s the next phase. However you do that, if you’re creating your manual, you’ve got to somehow recorded and if you can just have those conversations with people in you can you can take those conversations and transcribe them and turn them into manual content.
Tell me a little bit more about that about the actual writing process, taking those conversations and putting them on paper? Is that something that you’re doing? Do you have? Do you have a team of people who are writing these things literally, coming up with the words? And is it I hate to say it this way, but is it dry? Or is it? Or do you keep it kind of fun and creative, depending upon the customer?
You know, I’d say that we put the fun back and funeral. I encourage people it starts the fun starts at the site visit. And so it is try the mean if you were just to say I’m going to write your manual, and there are companies that do this, and I feel sorry for their for their clients, not that they write bad manuals. But if you just say I’m going to write your manual, and boom, let’s tell me what you do. And here it is. I just thought of that just drives me nuts. So we show up on the site visit. And this is just this not going to help anyone write a manual but it’s just fun to talk about. We show up at a site visit and I tell him I need 20 minutes I’ll leave the room I need 20 minutes, and they come back in and there are there are 20 playdough cans there are three Slinkys there are there’s a magic eight ball for helping us make big decisions. There is there Reese’s Peanut Butter minis all across the table in Hershey’s miniatures all spread out there are Kind bars there are there are pistachio and bags of pistachio nuts and all sorts of snacks both healthy and unhealthy and hot wheel cars. And you’ll see two trophies that are that you’ve never seen before. And they are to plate it’s a piece of marble on top of it so Plato can and on the PLATO Kant says Frenchman Plato sculpting contest. And then there’s a golden cup on top of it when I’m says first place and when I’m so second place. And so I tell people, Hey, we’re going to do this. And this is going to be three days long. And this is going to be a whipping and you’re going to be poking your eyes out. But I’ve got foot nerf footballs, I’ve got Slinkys I’ve got hot wheel cars, and there’s Plato and everyone is required to do at least one playdough. Sculptor before they leave. And then whoever does the best one where you’re going to get this trophy. And people go crazy, trying to win a trophy. And so we really make the experience fun. I know the question you asked me was about writing, you know, is that dry? And the answer is yes and no. It really depends on once we turn on the fun at the site visit then we get the creativity juices flowing in their brain and we can get them into this process in Hey, you know, this is fun than when you get when you make it fun. Then some of the content what they want to put in there. We just did a manual we’re still finalizing, but it’s for a good fitness studio in Dallas. And they said, We want this thing to be fun. And can you put comedy in this thing? And the lady that that’s writing for us that oh my gosh, I can’t believe she just asked me that she doesn’t even know what kind of Pandora’s Box she just opened up. And I know and so you have to know her personality and know this is going to be fun. And so she, she went through the manual and started pulling out some of these system standards. And one of them was, hey, we are a gym. And so we are prone to the employees, the trainers to want to, to want to peddle off their multilevel marketing, whatever it is the drinks or whatever the hell Right, right. Vitamins and drafts and yeah, to the customers. It’s a set, okay, the customer said, Go get after it. And she comes back and it says, under no circumstances are you allowed to peddle your multilevel marketing concept in in the gym to our customers, either during gym hours, or after hours, anyone caught doing so much do 100 Push ups, and then they have to find 10 people to do 100 Push ups, and then they have to find 10 people to do 100 more push ups. So stuff like that is just very funny. And you can have fun with it.
It makes it interesting to read and also giving someone the reason to say hey, did you see what’s on page? 17? Did you see that? No. Why? Why? Oh, they’re making fun of multilevel marketing over here. Yeah, oh, wait a minute. And I think putting some things, you know a few easter eggs in there to get people to talk a little bit and maybe share something in the manual or, or tell their their co worker to check it out. Anything to get them to read it. You know, it’s like it’s like making school fun anything to get a kid to learn something is worthwhile. So I’m kinda
like edutainment real quick, I want to shout out to Paula Brown, because she’s the one who did that. But on a note to anyone who’s writing their own manuals, because this is really, really important. You have to be careful when you are taking a system standard. That’s a requirement of a franchisee. And we’re going to tell them, hey, if this is a system standard, and if you don’t follow the system standard, this is going to be grounds for terminating our business relationship. And if you take one of those opportunities to make a joke, you better be sure that there’s some language somewhere in the manual that lets them know that you were just kidding, huh?
So maybe the funny stuff is a sidebar kind of stuff.
Yeah. So yeah, we were talking to multiple franchise attorneys to say, Okay, can we do this? If we put this language in there? Can we make this funny? They go, Yeah, but just be careful. So there, you have to be careful about that.
So let me ask you about that. When do the attorneys show up on the scene to go through the manual you’ve written and and your or maybe, is it during the writing process? Do they get involved? What does that look like?
If you ever watch Alton brands, good eats, we had the food police the food police would come here the Colorado
dream police. They live inside of my head here they come. Here they
- In an ideal scenario, we have a great relationship with the with the franchise attorney. So there are several that we work with Mike drum Tom Spadea Charles Turner Cola, Cheryl Mullin, we’ve got a we got a handful that we love Robinson, you know, he’s, he’s my brother. We work with a handful of franchise attorneys on a regular basis, and others on a less regular basis. And when we have a really good relationship with them, then during the site visit, we’ll call him up and go, Hey, we’re talking about this this topic. And there’s I told them, hey, you need to talk to your franchise attorney because this is a questionable requirement. I don’t think you should require this or I would need I think you should if you could, and in the we’ll call the franchise attorney. So they’ll be in the process, all the way from the creation of the Franchise Disclosure Document all the way through the end of the manual because they need the manual content, the table of contents and their disclosure document, but some of the content that they’re gathering overlaps with what we’re doing in the manual. And so when a client comes to us and goes, Hey, should we do our disclosure or FTD first or manual first? It really doesn’t matter. We’re gonna go a mile deep on a lots of topics in which it is going to make it easier for you to go and have that conversation with your franchise attorney about all the things that he’s going to ask he or she is going to is going to ask you if you were to have that conversation with your franchise attorney first. You may have some of the details that we’re going to need in the operations manual. Neither way six and one half dozen other but the point is, is that there is a an interaction with the franchise attorney now having said that, we have gone on a lot of them. We have gone through the whole process and never talked to the attorney one time wouldn’t even know who they are. So it just nice if we do have some interaction and they can be involved throughout. We try to you can tell when you’ve seen a franchise attorney right and operations may
look excitedly reading the 10 commandments, thou shalt do this and thou shalt not do that. Okay, okay,
sorry. Just just skip to the end of the chapter where it says, You know what, just don’t do any of this closed down, right? Close the business, that’s the safe move. You really, you really don’t want to sell anything? Or have a customer. I was pesky customers can be nothing but legal trouble. So this keeps the customers out, please. So obviously, there’s a there’s a correlation with the FTD. And the franchise agreements and anything else that someone has signed on to all of that’s correlating back somewhere in that manual? Just thought of something else along those same lines? Yeah. When it comes to writing and approving and all of that stuff. How often does the typical franchise manual need to be updated, rewritten, new technologies come along, new services come along? New parts of a business come along? How much of that needs to be rewritten on an annual basis? Or every two years? Or what what does that timeline look like?
It could be anywhere from once a day? Wow. Yeah. Yeah, it would start there. And the reason it would be that is for a startup franchise, or you’re a startup franchisor. I’ll tell you, we’re finishing up your 16. Now, we’ve had people come to us over the past 16 years, and say, we’re going to franchise this business. Oh, great. Tell me what you do. Oh, we do XYZ. Fantastic. How many locations do you have? We don’t have any yet. That’s where the the record scratch sounds right here. And I’ve got one right here. Right, well back up. And
that was a great scratch, man. That’s right.
So, so those those we don’t have
any open yet, but we do have 172 in development, and they should be open by the end of the year. And it’s November 1, so Right,
right, right. All right. I’ve got I’ve got I’ve got 200 people that are just chomping at the bit, one to open up right now. And it’s like, Sure, let’s go. And so a startup franchisor is in especially in those scenarios. And they do happen more than you think when we tell them, hey, don’t write your manual yet. You don’t have a location open. Yeah, what we want to do this, all right, you know what money screen, I’m not going to turn it away, I’ve warned you. Now, here’s your manual, and we’ll go through the process. And it’s painful, because they don’t know anything. They don’t even have anything to draw any experience to draw on. But we’ll write the manual. Well, they’re going to open business day one. And the very first day, even before that, even in preopening, they’re gonna see stuff that they Oh my gosh, we thought it was gonna go like this. And it’s going like this instead. And you need to change that manual right now. And I’m going to explain to you why in just a little bit. But the more mature franchisor, you look at the seven elevens, the service masters, the Haagen Dazs shops, the people who have been around a long time Panda Express, they’ve been doing this so long, they’ve got their systems down, they’ve got their systems down pat. And so the things in their manual, that change are going to be there’s going to be something big is going to happen for their manual to change, it’s going to be more like menu items, if they even put those things in their manual, but menu items or something like that, but the size that they chop all of their vegetables so that they put them in the Windows will that’s all so you can see the vegetables in and how they call back to the kitchen. When they’re out of orange chicken, that process that doesn’t change, they don’t need to change, there’s as much we have an online manual product. So we actually help our clients update their manuals. But we had an elements of therapeutic massage was a client of ours for a long time. And they would come in once a year, once a year, they would come in, and they would submit a enormous manual update change. And we’d go into their online manual and update it. Other companies. We’re working with a miracle here right now. And if we don’t get three or four or five a week from them, I’m thinking my emails broken. And so you know, different companies do it differently. But I tell people stay on it. The reason is this. This is a long answer to a short question. I’m sorry, but this is important. The reason is this, Mr. franchisor. If you’re writing your manual, if you’re updating your manual, if you ever have to go into a courtroom and you have to answer questions from a judge if the franchisee pulls you into a lawsuit, or if a clarify customer pulls you into a lawsuit where they’re first suing the franchisee, and you get sucked into this thing. And they say, Hey, let’s look at the operating manual. Let’s see what it look like. And your operating manual is 10 years out of date and been touched in 10 years. You immediately go from this position where you’re standing A high end like Captain America, you’re standing behind your shield, where you’re you go from standing behind your manual and having it defend you to where you are now standing in front of your manual and you’re taking all the bullets is your manual is useless. Because you haven’t touched in 10 years. Now imagine that other scenario where your manual is up to date. And you’ve got something like our online manual system where we update it nightly. So before you go into that lawsuit, you’re gonna say, Okay, what was the date of the incident? Okay, the date was February, the fifth 2015, boom, I go into that courtroom with the February the fifth 2015 version of the operating manual. Now Oh, my God, there is no question. That thing is defending me now. So when when was the last time the manual was updated? Oh, our records indicate it was updated two days before the event. Great. Now, how do we know that Bob from Butte, Montana actually got it? Oh, here’s the notification. Here’s the where he clicked the acknowledgment of it. And that happened on two days afterwards. And now this manual is defending you, and you’re not defending it. And it’s a very different experience in a courtroom.
So let’s talk a little bit about that distribution. Because I think that online manual situation sounds critical, especially as as quickly as things may be changing right now. And especially now that I would assume most franchisees are comfortable using a computer or laptop phone or something. And maybe that wasn’t the case, when you started 16 years ago? How many? How many brands are still using the big old hard copy manual? I just picture, you know, sitting in the back office of a restaurant, the big three ring binder, you know, that says franchise manual on it that might be gathering a little dust? Are there still a lot of brands using those? Or have people gone? Electronic? Or maybe somewhere in between? What does that look like these days?
Okay, so you know, it’s hard, I don’t have numbers, we don’t have any statistics. There’s, this is not as important of an industry to where you have companies out there specializing gathering that kind of statistic. So I don’t know how many people out there but you would be surprised it wouldn’t you do run across a paper manual sell people going yet we like it, there are people who that say I want my franchisees HTO, Justin, how a very good friend of mine, a lot of respect for him, and with him in his system. And he’s of the mindset, when they sign a franchise agreement, I want them to walk away with something physical in their hand, I don’t want you to take away yeah, I take away tactile Yeah, and I get that, I get that too. And so he wants these things printed. And but from that point on, that’s the last time they get a printed manual. And they and they know that the rest of it is be digital would be in the form of like a PDF. So and there are other people that say, Dude, we want to say we want to be the green company. And we want to show everyone that we don’t have anything on paper. So we want everything digital. And so we go, we have this online manual product I’ll talk about in a little bit. But so to look at the three ways that you can distribute a manual to your franchisees, one of them would be paper. And that’s exactly what you just described, it’s a big honking three ring binder is collecting dust, it was collecting desk for a couple of reasons. One of the reasons is that nobody updates it, and nobody wants to update it. It’s just it’s if you update it, you got to figure out where it is you got to go in there, you got to change it, you got to print out the pages. And if you screwed up the pagination, and you got to print the whole chapter. And that’s it. Hopefully, you’ve got your pagination on your manual to where it stops at that chapter and starts over again at the next chapter. Otherwise, you got to print the whole damn thing, then you got to get out to 100 people registered mail return receipt, so you can prove in a court of law that he gave it to him and that they got it oh my god, that process is just painful. But there are still people that do that. But it’s an it’s an ugly mess. It’s a debt collector for that reason. The other reason it’s a debt collector is because, you know, because we don’t update it, we teach our franchisees not to go to it, because every time they spend the effort to go find something, it’s it’s outdated, and they know it so they’re never gonna go back there again. So that’s the paper manual. On the other end of the extreme is is the online manual. And the online manual by friend man is the leading product they’re in if you were to think about it as a personal or a private Wikipedia site, that is your operations manual, so that franchisees would login with the username and password or if they’re already logged into your intranet, they would just use single sign and just go right into the manual. And now it is a it’s a it’s a Wikipedia site. There’s a search bar at the top they can do a search for inventory. They can find out every page on the manual the word inventory shows up and when they get to that page, the word inventory is highlighted yellow everywhere on the page so they can go right to that word and read around it and see if that’s what they’re looking for. or it actually even goes into the documents in the Document Library, all of the support documents it goes through, those are indexed when they get uploaded every single time. So that I can tell you which which of those documents have the word inventory in it, things like that. Now we’ve got a manual that you can update instantly, almost, you can go in there and suggest a change. And when you suggest that change, it generates an email to frame man. And then once you authorize framing to work on it, now you have a company that specializes in producing manuals producing the, the updates your operations manual, that’s an electronic version on the other side of the spectrum, that is a way of distributing and managing a manual and in the middle, you would have a PDF. And a PDF is almost like not quite, but almost like a a hybrid between those two. And we can we can update it pretty quickly. But you still have a lot of issues with with cannot put video in it. Can I put? Yeah. Which you can’t, you know, and can I search it? Yes, you can. But you’re searching the whole manual. And, and you have to kind of flip through all the deals versus having a Google style search result. And then you talk about security. If it’s a PDF, well, unless you’re going to put a password on it, which everyone’s going to forget then in that they’re not going to go into the manual because they’re going to forget the password. But you’ve got as PDF that’s just like a paper copy floating around that I can go from flash drive to flash drive. And so the the security issue there. So there are three different ways to distribute. And those are the three ways.
You mentioned videos are there how to videos in the online manual, literally showing someone on a screen, how to do something, not just the written word,
man, you’ve heard that, you know, picture tells 1000 words, yeah, video videos even better. So there are a couple of concerns or warnings I want to pass on to anyone who’s writing their own manual, and they’re going to, and they’re going to go with any kind of online system that might exist out there. There are some system standards that you that are the rules that a franchisee has to play by if they want to. They want to be a franchisee and we want to make sure those are stated in writing. Because that’s probably what the judge will go to. When you use video though. Absolutely. You want to use it as much as you can. Because you know, just talking about rolling a burrito. I can go through the steps and tell you how to roll a burrito. I don’t know. Have you seen our peanut butter and jelly commercial?
I have not no,
you gotta go see that. And so it’s, it’s, it’s how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich by friend, man. And so it’s me, all you can see is my like my chest and my hands. And I’ve got two pieces of bread in your jar, peanut butter jar jelly and two knives. And it says first with the peanut butter on top of one piece of bread. And I take the peanut butter jar and put it on one piece of bread, then you take the jelly and you put it on another piece of bread. And I take the jar of jelly said the instructions weren’t clear enough, right? And then you put one on top of the other and oh, that’s not a sandwich. So the
point is, though it was
well, the difference between that and what it was yeah, it was technically correct. But look at look at what a video would tell you, what would show you the nuances of of scraping the peanut butter off of the off of the knife before you put it in to save time for cleanup. Because you know that because you’re in a restaurant Time is of the essence. And cleanup takes time. And if I can do three scrapes before I do it, well, I can show all that stuff in a video and very quickly reference it and move on. And that you can’t do or you can do in writing, but it just takes forever.
And I think you’re also understanding your audience with videos in an online manual because especially the next generation that comes along to work in that restaurant, and then the generation after that they’re every generation or every younger group maybe or even even the older groups as time moves on. We’re all more apt to watch a video than read a paragraph. The number one search term on YouTube is how do I write how do I fix the transmission? Make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you know, in process payroll, whatever. So I mean YouTube is is a universal how to guide. So I think doing videos within an online manual of how to do literally anything within a franchisee location. i That’s That’s a fantastic idea. I love that.
Yeah, it’s great. But you can use it for more than just transferring or conveying system standards. You can use it for conveying corporate culture. That’s another function of an Operations Manual. And you can you can just convey so much that you can’t do so if you’re stuck to a paper manual. Or if you’re stuck to a PDF, you’re missing out on an opportunity to really utilize the future of how we convey information. It’s not the futures to present It’s the it’s how we are conveying information now. And so here’s the problem is this what’s what’s that phrase? Don’t let perfect get in the way of done.
Right? Don’t let perfect get in the way of good or right. Or perfect be the enemy of good. Yeah,
right. So or be the enemy of done or something like that. It’s like Don’t, don’t, don’t sit there and think that you have to have perfect videos. In order to include them in an operating system or a training program. I can make a video on my phone. All the videos I’ve made for frame main were done on my phone, I don’t have a 10k or a 4k big ol giant camera. Yeah, I get a phone on a tripod buy do use different audio. And for $50 you can get a softbox lights sure on on Amazon, and you can get a teleprompter for $100. And and learn how to do that if you wanted to look into the camera and say things in and there’s so much you can do to make really great videos now that you know, 10 years ago, where would you even get a teleprompter?
Oh, you wouldn’t and and 10 years ago or maybe 15 The first thought would have been bring in a video company. Let’s hire a video company because you know, we have an extra $200,000 sitting
for a 10 minute video
production company to show people how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for 10 minutes. Yeah. All right. What’s very cool about this as you’re also thinking about that audience that’s consuming the videos or other content in the online manual, because they don’t necessarily expect you to have a $200,000 video now they’re pretty okay with watching videos that have been made on a phone because 99% of the videos that anyone watches right now, whether it’s YouTube or Facebook or Tik Tok, are made on a phone. So we’re all very used to seeing even even that kind of handheld video of someone showing someone else how to do something, I think we’ve taken a real leap forward in getting away from having to have that perfect video that, let’s face it, 15 years ago, even with a $200,000 budget, they weren’t perfect that either. So Right. So I think that you’re in good shape there.
Yeah. And there are companies that will that are not going to deviate from that you get really big companies and they have that level of excellence as part of the brand and, and that’s okay, let them let them do that. But if you’re a start up and you want some videos in your manual, or you want video training, don’t be afraid exactly what you just said, Don’t be afraid, just open the camera and get after it. And then your videos will evolve over time, eventually, you’ll see that you go oh my god, that was that was horrible. Let’s just get it let’s get a tripod. And now you get now you have a tripod and things are all smooth and and you’ll just evolve and they’ll get better and better as you go.
You mentioned all of these things being part of the brand. And you also mentioned something about company culture being included in the franchise manual. Are you seeing more people that want to include things about their culture in the manual than you were 10 or 15 years ago? It seems like more brands, especially in franchising are are trying to develop and tell that story internally and getting everyone to understand that culture. Are you seeing more of that?
Yeah, you know, there are five main functions of a franchise operations manual. And one of them is it’s it’s the master document for your system standards. So the system standards are the clubhouse rules, no girls allowed whatever they your clubhouse rules are, you know, those years system standards. It’s a document for for training, training slash reference, that’s probably the the second function so that if you’re a startup franchisor, you can actually use your manual for training document more more advanced mature franchisors have their own training programs. But still, it’s a reference document. A third function is it’s a brand protector, it’s one of the few things you have in your bag to protect your brand. When you grant a franchise, you are in effect, handing your brand over to somebody who may or may not share the same vision for the direction of the company as you do. It’s a it’s a tool to help you sell the idea of being a franchisee. But finally, it is a it is one of the tools you have to convey your corporate culture and the answer your question is yes, as that function it’s it’s kind of a minor function of an Operations Manual. Because when I talk about conveying corporate culture, you’re going to be doing that during your discovery day, your FTD if you don’t use your FTD as a sales tool, as well as a disclosure document, but if you don’t find a franchise attorney that’s going to help you be creative and help you convey some of your culture there and then go into discovery day. That’s totally about culture, and then your initial training if they’re there for 233 weeks, it’s culture but your manual can do that too. That can be one of those pieces. And you’re absolutely right that when we first started it was all about can’t do this. You have to do that you must do this, we recommend you do that. And now it’s there’s more of that the use of the manual as a vehicle for corporate culture. And and I think that’s essential. I think that’s essential.
Yeah. And I see that getting larger with a lot of brands I’m working with, I’ll give a quick shout out to my friends at Big B coffee. They have an excellent chain of 300 stores now all franchised across the United States. And I always say their their coffee, and their service and their food and everything else is really sort of a byproduct, what they’re really selling, promoting and growing is this great company culture. And it’s all about being good to people and loving people, and just being the place where everyone feels good about that. And, oh, by the way, we sell coffee too, you know. So in all of their marketing tools and operations, tools, and everything, you really feel that culture, as opposed to a coffee brand that maybe came out 1520 years ago, that would have been all about here’s how we make great coffee, you know? So, you know, I just see more and more brands going that direction. Again, especially as the next generation gets more involved in franchising those people, as opposed to old generation X dudes like us, those people are really interested in that company and brand culture, as opposed to just, you know, how do we make money with this thing?
Yeah, I was gonna write a song and I found out someone already wrote one similar to it the day that big big coffee closed and where I’m from Capelle, it was going to be called the day the coffee died. But then someone has someone had already written a song very similar like that. And about Buddy Holly or something like it was I was welcomed out. But when they close when they closed the coffee, and I forgot, I don’t know why, but it’s just I love that place. It was absolutely fantastic brand. And I wish they would come back big because
they come back, they will be coming back. I will. I will send them a copy of this podcast.
So that way, you know what another shout out goes out to Rebecca Monet, because of her what she does is she takes you she’s get Zorich. All right. Are you familiar with what Rebecca does?
I love what she does. Yes. Yeah,
I do too. So she’ll take a company, and she will she’ll have all of the entire corporate office, take this personality profile test. And she would it’s not called that she would shoot me if I said that. But it’s called psychographic analysis. So she would have everyone take this personality profile test. But what she would come up with from that is the corporate culture, what is this company like, so that when somebody when they’re looking for franchisees, they can actually find out if they would fit into that corporate culture? Super cool. Super cool system. Yeah, yeah. I
love the work that she’s doing there. I had a couple of other things I wanted to get to, before we run out of time today. So I’m going to throw you some some hard balls here. About You mentioned a while back about how you’re not a fan of the term, selling a franchise or saying I sold a franchise and, and I think I used to believe differently, but I’m, I’m more in line with you these days. Tell me about that.
Oh, man. So Bob gappa. If you’re listening to this, this is for you. Disciple of Bob gap, and you know, Bob gap of any chance? Yeah, sure. Sure. Okay, who does? Who doesn’t know Bob? Yep. All right. So Bob gappa has this as a franchise consulting company, and he is my mentor. And we and we’ve worked closely together on a lot of clients. And in one time, he came out with this, this document understanding franchising, part of that is about the sales talk. This this idea of sales talk, and he’s really big on this in I am too now, when I talk about franchising. Franchising is a type of license. It’s pure and simple. It is a type of license. It’s like a driver’s license. It’s like a pilot’s license. It’s like a license to practice medicine and licensed to practice law. There are all types of licenses. And I go to the DPS and I go and I pay $15 for my driver’s license, am I buying that driver’s license? And the answer is absolutely no. The license is, is given by the issuing authority, because they have a certain degree of comfort or that you are competent in the skills that are necessary to perform that service, either correctly or safely. We’ve talked about law, you’re going to competently and we talked about medicine, we’re talking about safely. We’re talking about driving a car. You can you’ve proven to us that you can do that. So we’re going to grant you a license So I don’t go in and I don’t buy that license. But in franchising for some reason we, we’ve, we’ve said, Hey, I just, I just bought a franchise that just sold a franchise. And the people involved in that conversation are taking away this idea of, Hey, I just if I get Jack, if I give you a pin, and you give me $1 And I’d say I just showed you a pin, and you go, Okay, I’ve got this pin. I own it, right? I just bought it. I own it. And I say, Hey, can I take that cap off? Can you chew the cap up if you want to? And you go, yeah, how come bec