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You’ve documented your business procedures, but no one will use them…

Over the years, so many franchisors have commented to me that they just cannot get their franchisees or staff to use the operations manuals they are legally required to produce. The bit I found shocking is that even some of the biggest franchises in Australia have this problem. What isn’t surprising is that these are the groups who seem to have the most problems.

Admittedly, in my early days these documents were paper based and difficult to keep up to date. It was also time consuming and clumsy for staff to find anything meaningful – so they didn’t try. But this problem still exists today in businesses with comparatively sophisticated operations systems. Staff and franchisees simply ignore most operations manuals so expensively produced by business leaders.

However, there are businesses and franchise groups across the world which do have great operations systems in place. The best could not have achieved what they do without easy to use, relevant procedures to manage the way important tasks are completed.

These are their rules.

Take the lead and make it essential for everyone to use your operations


And make one person responsible for looking after the system. Someone who has the ability and who is given the time to do the job properly.

Give that person and your managers the support to make your operations central to everything your business does.

Make your operations easy to access

Today, your operations manuals must be cloud-based. No one is going to the back office to look for the dusty paper manual hidden on a bookshelf. This especially applies to businesses such as a gutter maintenance company owned by one of our clients. When his teams need to be reminded how to put tricky gutter parts together, they will not be happy having to climb off the roof to access the information on a computer or document in their vehicle.

So, even if you do put your business procedures into the cloud, put them into a system which is easy to use, and where each procedure can be found on a phone within a couple of clicks.

And use a system which has everything integrated. Procedures need attached downloadable documents and need to be supported by images and video where relevant. Not possible with most software around.

Keep each task description short, relevant, and as simple as possible

Operations manuals can become complex and unwieldy at the drop of a hat. Most people starting to put such a system together, think that everything must be covered.

The truth is keeping the manual as simple as possible is important. Only include issues which are essential and relevant to getting key tasks done your way. 

An example comes to mind. We were checking out a manual prepared for an ice cream shop. Obviously, cleanliness is important, and it is essential that the floors are mopped at the end of service each day. But you probably don’t have to specify that the mop is to be swished side to side rather than backwards and forwards – does it make a difference?

Think about it though, because sometimes it is the little things which set you apart from your competition and those things need to be recorded.

Base your training on your operations systems

Your operations systems must become the hub around which almost all your staff and franchisee management will revolve. So, get your core procedures prepared first.

Then don’t repeat your operations in you training processes. Training processes will use your operations and just cover how you train people.

For instance, a training process may involve:

The beauty is – if the answer is, ‘Yes’, something needs updating.

Follow up through

The best way to keep everyone realizing how important it is they do tasks your way and follow documented procedures is to base performance management on your operations. Training is an ongoing process. Things change. People forget. Timely reminders really help to get the message across that you think your processes are important and you want tasks done your way – not theirs.

Keep your procedures up to date

Finally, remember, the fastest way to lose people is to let your operations manuals go out of date. Maintenance is an ongoing task and you do need to put on someone capable to be responsible for keeping them relevant.

The principle

Become the leader they need

Your cloud-based operations must be relevant, intuitive to use, simple to understand, up to date, and available at the click of a button.

As the leader insist everyone uses your operations for everything from training to performance management and always let them know how important it is for things to be done your way – every time – in line with the brand and in accordance with your ops.

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