I started to attempt to create some “click bait” and call this, Top Ten Crazy Things We’ve Seen in Manuals and You Won’t Believe Number Ten, but I want to temper that a bit and talk about some of the more unusual topics we’ve had to address and the reasoning behind them.
If you’ve read any FDDs or looked at the sample manual outline of our site, you’re familiar with the generic topics that most manuals contain. Since we custom build each manual, we tend to stray from the standard topics and over the past ten years have covered some very unusual subjects.
The first category that tends to come up, are topics dealing with the unpredictability of customers. I’ve written sections covering dealing with drunk customers in the drive-through, angry customers wanting a manager, lost children and ruined clothing from an employee accident. How your franchisees handle these situations says a lot about your business and brand.
Second is the unpredictability of franchisees. There are many franchisees looking for a way to express their individuality and we have covered some wild ones. I’ve seen everything from selling totally unrelated products, creating the rogue Twitter account, sponsoring the local topless girl of the year pageant, to giving away a free shotgun with a purchase. It’s important to set limits and create guideline for what you allow and don’t allow. What seems like common sense to you might not be for everyone.
Finally, is the unpredictability of employees. Your brand is one of your most valuable assets, both to you and your franchisees. When one of you franchisees’ employees shows up at your yogurt store with the full face tattoo and a “screw the government” t-shirt, unless your franchisee knows how to handle it, you’ve got problems.
I could swap war stories all day long and will be happy to in the comments, but the main point I want to stress is that while you can take a generic outline or template and create a franchise operations manual, I encourage you to set down with a manual writer and really think about where you might have inadequate document structure, inadequate instructions, or outright omissions. Then, create a manual that is unique to your company and your company’s System Standards. It is too easy to rush out a manual and then find you have “no teeth” when a franchisee starts doing something damaging to your brand.
I work with companies that are franchising their business and consult with them on the best way to document their system standards and procedures. I then create a customized franchise operations manual that is used by new franchisees. I have written over 20 manuals for businesses new to franchising as well as established companies like Cricket Communication, Radio Shack, Panda Express, ServiceMaster, ColorTyme, and Snap Fitness.
Feel free to contact me if you need an operations manual or if you have questions about the many options available for companies needing manuals.