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Unit Manager, The Most Important Job in a Franchise

numbers people profit Sep 12, 2023
Unit Manager

The unit manager job is the most important position in any franchise organization.

Think about it! These are the men and women leading the unit, implementing the business and the brand systems, and deciding how the sales and profits will behave in that unit.

The American Franchise Academy has identified what are the six critical responsibilities that unit managers have. Together, they demonstrate how important it is to hire capable managers and train them well so they can become experts in every one of these tasks. 

It’s worth the effort! If they can fulfill the expectations of their role, the business unit they are responsible for will make the most revenue and profitability for the franchisee. 


Responsibility #1: Execute the brand systems

The brand systems are the product, the service, the image, and the marketing that the franchisor offers in exchange for the royalty fee. If these are properly executed, the franchisee will be able to have the revenue that that proven brand promises. 

That’s why the unit manager must be an expert at doing these activities with a high level of excellence. Not only that. They also require the ability to teach their teams how to duplicate those proven systems from that brand, which has demonstrated the capacity to bring revenue into the business.

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Responsibility #2: Lead and inspire

Unit managers are responsible for motivating everyone in their team to do an excellent job every single day. 

This leadership skill is critical because no matter the industry you are in, whether the food service business, the personal service business, or the educational business, it is said that franchise business owners are in the people business because everything the unit manager does is through their crew. 

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Responsibility #3: Staff their unit

The unit managers need to have the right people in the right place at the right time doing the right thing

While that may sound easy, it is probably one of the most challenging things that this position has to do. 

Let’s separate that responsibility to truly understand its meaning:

Having the right people means that they have enough amount of employees so there’s no waste of labor.

In the right position implies they have natural abilities, or acquired skills learned by training, to do that particular job. 

Being there at the right time indicates that they are available when needed, and that they are as efficient and effective as possible. 

And finally, doing the right thing means that they have the proper training so they can follow the procedures exactly the way they're designed to.

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Responsibility #4: Manage the revenue

Making sure that clients who come into the business have a great customer experience is crucial for this role. If they are successful at this task, the customer will come back again and again and will tell others to come too.

They are also responsible for bringing new customers in to increase the revenue, whether it is through local store marketing or upselling.

Even though they will do these activities through other people, they still are specifically responsible for owning the sales in the unit.

They can do that by assuring great customer service, promoting the store locally, and executing the brand and business systems as they should so that the revenue that comes in is secure, healthy, and increasing every year


Responsibility #5: Control expenses

The unit manager is responsible for making sure that the costs are under control and minimized as much as possible so the profitability is appropriate and healthy

Although there are not that many expenses the management team can control, labor cost is probably the biggest controllable they should regulate. Another one is the cost of goods which, if you are in the retail food service business, is probably the biggest expense in your business. 

There’s also the maintenance cost, the credit card chargebacks, among other things that the managers can control, through their team, with their daily activities.

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Responsibility #6: Represent the owner

The customers, the people at large, and the community see the unit managers as a representation of the brand and the persons who own that business. 

So they need to know how to behave, how they should act, and what to say so that their behavior, actions, and words represent the business owner they work for.

This is a very important responsibility, and sometimes we do not provide enough information and training to the unit managers to know how to do that. 


In my +35 years of experience, I have discovered that when it comes to responsibility number one, that is executing the brand systems, most franchisees do well because the franchisor provides the tools, training, and resources the unit managers need to duplicate the brand with a high level of excellence. 

But when it comes to the other five responsibilities, that involve leadership and management tasks and should be given by the franchisee, most of the time the unit managers fall short. 

If you would like to explore how to give your unit managers the training they need so that they can excel at these critical responsibilities, I would like to invite you to explore our Manage Program.

This is specifically designed for unit managers, where they learn the specific leadership and management skills they need to be great leaders and great business managers and help achieve the business and financial goals for the unit.

To learn more about our Manage Program, click here or go to

Get more tips on what you and your leaders can do to thrive and operate a successful franchise by following us on all social platforms, including our YouTube channel and podcast.


  • Do you have enough staff in all your units? Are they inspired and motivated?
  • How can the customer experience be improved?
  • Are your unit managers keeping costs and waste under control?
  • How much does the unit manager represent you as the business owner or franchisee?