FDS Southern operating manual services have figured strongly in FDS Southern's services to franchisors - and none of their experience has suggested that good manuals are anything but vital to the future success of a franchised network.
Gary comment : Ask FDS (Southern) what constitutes a sound franchise and they can answer that easily - a total, proven business system that can be communicated effectively to others seeking to invest in replicating it. At the heart of it all is 'know-how' - the sum total of the franchisor's knowledge, innovations, methodologies and experience contributing to the profitable operation of his business.
When you buy a licence to operate a franchise, you are buying into that know-how and the proven system that puts the know-how behind the business system into practice. Our task is to ensure that our new franchisor clients develop a system that makes it as easy as possible for franchisees to replicate their proven methodology. That's what the franchisee wants to buy and that's what the franchisors are responsible for delivering.
So prior to franchising any business, a critical question we have to ask is 'how developed and tested is the business system?' It is not enough to have devised an excellent product or service. This cannot be marketed by franchisees until there is a properly documented operating system which can be replicated as a proven methodology.
Southern's franchise operation manual specialist comments : What distinguishes
a franchise from a simple licence is system totality, incorporating
intellectual property rights, training and support. A vital part of
this is documenting every aspect of the business in manual form - which
becomes a reference book on how to operate the business, down to the
finest detail. It has to be a fail-safe guide for franchisees, so that
they could, if necessary, resolve problems for themselves. One problem
we have discovered is that know-how and expertise often exists purely
in the minds of the management. To them, running the business is second
nature and common sense, almost instinctive. The idea of following a
documented game plan seems pointless to them. For a new franchisee,
however, operating the business is a completely new experience, so the
only way he or she can learn is by studying and applying the operational
principles behind it - that which is instinctively done by the management
after years of operation.
The contents of the manual should be informative, instructive and detailed,
capable of leaving the franchisees in no doubt as to what is required
of them. The franchise contract should then require the franchisees
to operate their business as per the requirements of the manual in its
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