What Your Franchise Library Needs at Every Stage

Every new franchise has to worry about how they set franchisees up for success, and that includes what kinds of materials they’ll provide to communicate critical operational procedures in alignment with the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). In the beginning, most franchise systems focus on their Franchise Operations Manual since, in many states, it’s a legal requirement in order to sell franchises. But from the day you start building your franchise system, you need to be thinking about how to build other brand knowledge you’ll need at the stages to come. 

More than just a legal requirement, your Franchise Operations Manual and Brand Standards Guide are the foundation for training new partners. They’re what those partners use to train their employees when you’re not there. Managing and communicating these standards through growth and change sets expectations between franchisors and franchisees, reduces friction, and mitigates liability.

Your business plan expects growth, and growth means change. Your franchise manuals and documentation should plan for both.

Emerging Stage

You can start selling franchises with a basic franchise operations manual, but you need to make sure you’re ready for what comes next. You shouldn’t have to start over when your franchise grows. Plan and build a foundation for scale.

What you need at this stage:
  • Standardized operations manuals (stock modules to get you to market quickly)
  • Training guides (manager, employee)
  • Employee manuals
  • Quick reference guides (menu builds; maintenance calendars; opening, mid-day, and closing checklists)
  • Audits: checklists for marketing, site selection, and HR liability
  • Coaching: planning for the future, risk mitigation, and best practices

Retrofits don’t happen overnight. Maintaining legacy procedures and supporting all franchise partners, at least for a time, is a cost of progress.

Growth Stage

Teaching, coaching, and managing 20 units is different than five units, and it requires more precision, flexibility, and tools. Growth means gaining efficiency in some areas, but it also means legacy procedures for some units. In some ways, you’re documenting your business as it is today, and also as it was 2 years ago. Your franchise partners are likely more experienced now, your vendors more diverse, and your internal team has more units to serve. Your franchise manuals now have multiple audiences, with different needs and different levels of experience.

What you need at this stage:
  • All documentation delivered on a responsive and integrated platform
  • Customized operations documents, closely tailored to your unique processes
  • Brand guides
  • Construction and Vendor guides (you have more than just franchise partners to manage now)
  • Training guides and ‘Train the Trainer’ programs to leverage your content
  • Document management and governance to account for change and growth
  • Monthly coaching to scale quickly and manage change
  • Marketing and Real Estate tools to standardize your footprint

Ideally, franchise partners have the information they need to be successful – and align with the brand – right at their fingertips. Instant answers for them, reduced support costs for you.


Your processes and vendor networks are more mature, and you are probably courting a more sophisticated franchise partner. Your franchise manuals and documents are no longer just a legal requirement, they represent your brand to people who are accustomed to working with mature brands. This stage requires more attention to detail, and speaks to a wider audience.

What you need at this stage:
  • Documentation Audits: remove redundancy and inconsistency, mitigate risk, leverage content, and improve efficiency
  • Custom document creation
  • Document change management services and maintenance calendars
  • Content distribution, e-learning, and self-service options
  • Print, PoS, and web-based document access and distribution
  • User rights management
  • Custom app development, crisis scenario planning, and business readiness communication

Understanding what you need at each stage is critical for building a system of brand knowledge that scales with your rapidly growing brand.

About Manual Makers

Manual Makers is a franchise content and knowledge management agency with experienced advisors who help guide our clients through the process of documenting their knowledge. We work with emerging and established brands to remove barriers to growth. We love to talk to people about their franchise operations, and consultations are always free.