Fix your operations manual and take a break

By Mark Fernandez | 03 Jul 2019 View comments


Does this sound familiar? “I’d love to get away for a holiday, but without me the place would fall apart!” Most of us in small business fail to do the things that are necessary to make it easier to get away for a break. As a result we either don’t get away, or not for long enough.

So, what can be done? Well, many things and none of them are difficult. They include:

  • Job descriptions for key personnel
  • Task manuals
  • Clear reporting protocols
  • Organisation boards

All of these and more are evident in the typical franchise business model. Sure franchising is not for everyone and it is not meant to be, BUT many lessons can be taken from the example of best practice franchising.

Best practice frees up your time

For a retail store, a detailed Operations & Policy Manual is the minimum standard of documentation to make it easier for a franchisee or business owner to “take a break”.

These manuals leave nothing to chance and are designed to replace the owner so that senior personnel can ‘stand in their shoes’ when necessary. A typical operations manual will run into several hundred pages, covering at least the following areas:

  • Philosophy for conducting business
  • How to use the operations manual
  • Organisation chart
  • Directory of outlets & key staff
  • Complying state business regulations
  • Administration
  • Human resources and training
  • Cost control procedures 
  • Cash procedures
  • Sales and customer service
  • Pricing policies
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Security

How to fix your operations manual

So how do you go about updating our operations manual? Well the key is to take one or two chapters at a time. This way you are not trying to do everything at once. Get some staff or a couple of franchises to assist with the process. The more feedback and buy-in you get the better. 

You may even need to ‘pilot’ the ‘new procedure’ first before it becomes a ‘standard operating procedure’. Then tackle the other chapters the same way. Once you have completed all the chapters it is important to put a plan in place for someone to update the operations manual periodically. Just like checking your visa is still in date, you need to ensure that your operations manuals are current.

Another way to bring your manuals up to date it is to have a franchise advisor review and make recommendations as to what else they could contain or if in fact they are sufficient for your business and your franchisees. 

It’s a good idea for your franchise agreement be reviewed at the same time by your franchise advisor as there will be references made in both documents that need to be checked for its currency and if in fact a process can be changed without updating the franchise agreement. By reviewing both documents it will give you clarity around what is contained in the operations manual and even the Franchise Agreement. 

There are many reasons as to why you may need a break or time away from the business. The critical factors in doing so are all concerned with keeping the ‘doors open’. In most franchise networks when the ‘owner’ is away, profitability drops but by developing your people to step up and take the reins, this not only allows you to work on the business, but also allows your people to grow.

Remember, the business needs you to take a holiday just as much as you need to take a holiday from the business. Returning refreshed, energised and a with clear head can only benefit your decision making. Like most things if we fail to plan our vacation time it will never happen.