When a Franchisee Calls – Greg Nathan Tip #81

This month’s tip from international Franchise Relations thought leader, Greg Nathan, dives into the critical value of an up-to-date and easy-to-access operations manual. In the article below, Greg suggests six great questions to ask yourself when evaluating your system’s operations manual.

Before we dive into this month’s tip, here’s a quick update on Greg’s 2014 availability. As you know, Greg travels to North America 2 – 3x each year to work with individual franchise systems in a variety of formats. His custom designed 1-, 2-, and 3-day Franchise Relations Boot Camps help franchisor teams understand what it takes to create Profitable Partnerships throughout their franchise system.

Here are Greg’s 2014 North America travel dates: 

Greg Nathan 2014 Availability – North America

  • Winter 2014 – Wednesday February 26, 2014 through Saturday March 1, 2014
  • Spring 2014 – Monday May 19, 2014 through Sunday June 1, 2014
  • Fall 2014 – Monday October 6, 2014 through Saturday October 18, 2014 

A more detailed calendar and additional info is available here.

If you are interested in exploring having Greg deliver a dynamic, targeted and tactical program to your field team or entire support team, send me a note right away as dates are sure to go fast!

Check out this recent video testimonial from someone who attended one of Greg’s Franchise Relations Boot Camp sessions.


Now, let’s get to this month’s great tip… 

When a Franchisee Calls
Healthy Franchise Relations Tip # 81 from Greg Nathan

What do people in your Franchise Support Office say when a franchisee calls? If part of the conversation is “Don’t bother looking at the manual, it’s out of date”, it may be time to take a fresh look at this highly underrated franchise success tool.

We regularly hear franchisor executives grumbling about franchisees not following the system. However when questioned more deeply about why this might be so, they admit their franchisees probably receive mixed messages about policies and procedures. How can you realistically expect franchisees to deliver a consistent customer experience if your standards are not clearly defined or relevant to the current operating environment? This is where the operations manual, boring as it may seem, can play a vital role in the success of a franchise network – and I might add, in reducing conflict in the franchise relationship.

There are two reasons why your operations manual may need a review. Firstly, it’s likely your business model has evolved, resulting in changes to systems and standards. Secondly, people on the franchisor team are going to leave from time to time and take important knowledge with them. While you can’t control these two factors, (and you shouldn’t as change is an important part of continuous improvement), you can control the loss of vital operational knowledge by ensuring you have an up-to-date operations manual.

But keeping an operations manual up-to-date is not as simple as it sounds. Your operations team may understand your business inside out, but they are unlikely to have the instructional design skills, or the time, to convert this knowledge into clearly written guidelines. Over the years, we’ve developed a six-step process for creating fresh, relevant operations manuals that position a network for further growth, which I’ll share below. 

Here are six questions you can use to evaluate the health of your operations manual. 

    1. Culture friendly. A good manual captures your values, culture, language and feel. It’s like part of the family furniture, reflecting the character of the business. Does your manual fit comfortably with the people who are supposed to use it?
    2. Up-to-date. The contents should contain everything needed to guide and support franchisees to success. Have the contents of your manual kept up-to-date with the evolution of your business model?
    3. Brand aligned. Every sentence in the manual should align with your brand, which is the reputation you are wanting to create in the mind of your customers. Do all elements of your manual clearly link to and support the ideal customer experience?
    4. Connection point. An effective manual connects every element of your franchise system together. Does your manual connect to your operational checklists, templates, learning resources and training programs?
    5. Online version control. You and your franchisees need to have easy, online access with user friendly navigation. Can you conveniently create updates and can franchisees conveniently find what they need to know?
    6. Accepted go-to-guide. Ultimately it’s not the manual but how it’s used that makes the difference. Do your franchisees habitually consult the manual before calling field consultants or support office for help? 

How’d you go? Wouldn’t it be great if next time a franchisee calls, you could confidently say “Have you checked the manual?” 

Until next time,

Greg Nathan
Franchise Relationships Institute

Hope you found this month’s tip as informative as we did. To ensure that we’re not ‘spamming’ you, we are asking anyone who would like to receive Greg’s Tips monthly to please opt in by clicking here.    

Thanks in advance for helping us get you the content that is relevant and desired. 

More soon… 


P.S.  Did you know that we keep a stock of Greg’s books here in our offices in Boulder, CO? If you are interested in purchasing copies of Profitable Partnerships, The Franchise E-Factor, Franchisor’s Guide to Improving Field Visits, or How to Make Franchise Advisory Councils Work, please let us know. Bulk discounts are available!


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