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What’s included in a franchisor’s operations manual?
The operations manual is often how a franchisor ensures consistency across its franchise network, so that a customer knows they will receive the same ‘experience’ whichever franchise business within the network they use. In general, operations manuals will contain details of the particular processes to be followed by a franchisee to run the relevant franchised business. For example, an operations manual for a fast food franchise might set out requirements for the restaurant layout, uniforms and processes in terms of food storage, cooking and presentation. It is also not uncommon for preferred/nominated suppliers to be detailed in the operations manual. The operations manual is a practical document and is not usually looked at or commented on by lawyers. However, a potential franchisee should always review the relevant operations manual before signing the franchise agreement. The reason being that there may be obligations placed on a franchisee that are detailed in the operations manual that may not be detailed in the franchise agreement. Complying with theses additional obligations may mean that a franchisee incurs costs in addition to those detailed in the franchise agreement. Some franchisors might not allow a potential franchisee to see a copy of the operations manual, either before it has signed the franchise agreement or unless it has signed a confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement, as it may contain information that is commercially sensitive.
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