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The 7 Most Critical Responsibilities of a District Manager

district manager leadership multi-unit franchising Mar 21, 2023
7 responsibilities of DM

If a district manager is not doing a good job, perhaps it’s because they don't have the guidance or the training to do so, especially for those that used to be unit managers. After all, the abilities and skills that made them thrive then are not the same as what makes a successful multi-unit leader

  • Great district managers require the development of additional skills and knowledge to be successful. 

Think about it! A unit or general manager’s job is dictated by the day-to-day operations of the brand and the business they run every day in those four walls. But what the multi-unit leaders do completely depends on the district’s situation as well as on what happens in each unit within the district. 

That’s why the set of abilities they need to be successful at this position is completely different from that of a successful unit manager.

Over our many years of experience, analysis, research, and having worked with over 100 district managers, here at The American Franchise Academy we have identified the seven critical responsibilities that a district manager must do every day to be successful and effective

Don’t miss: 100 district managers trained and 10 lessons we’ve learned from them

These responsibilities dictate what will conduct them to perform at their best, efficiently, and with great outcomes for the entire business. Let’s dig into each one of them!

As you read what are these seven responsibilities, think about this. 

  • If you are a district manager, do you have specific abilities, systems, and processes to make these responsibilities do well? 
  • If you are a multi-unit franchisee or business owner, are your district managers accomplishing these responsibilities correctly? If not, is it because they're not able to? Or because they don't know how to? 


Responsibility #1: Lead

What does that mean to lead? It implies inspiring people to be great, but also developing themselves to become the type of leader people are looking for because everything they accomplish is going to be through their team members. 

Because of that, they have to develop other leaders within the unit’s personnel so that they inspire the rest of the staff into doing and behaving in a great way. That will make business operations function with a high level of excellence.  


Responsibility #2: Plan

District managers need to be able to identify what are the urgent things versus the important things in the organization so that they can prioritize their actions and organize their daily and weekly agendas.

That will help them define when they’re going to do the job and what they’ll do during that time to cause positive change in the business. 

They also have to recognize what they can delegate and what systems they need to create so that people can execute without them.

The ability to plan well, categorize their time, and focus on the right things will determine the success that district managers will have in their job. 


Responsibility #3: Staffing

It does not mean that district managers are responsible for the hiring, training, and onboarding processes. What it does imply is making sure the unit managers have the tools, resources, and support they need so they can hire, train, and keep the people they need

Another direct responsibility of district managers is selecting and preparing the leadership bench for your organization. That signifies analyzing who are those rising stars that can be developed as future leaders


Responsibility #4: Execution

District managers are not supposed to execute the operations in all the units. They are responsible to inspire, train, and coach the unit managers and team members into executing the brand and the business systems with a high level of excellence. And they do that by doing effective unit visits. 

Don’t miss: This is the ideal number of units a district manager should oversee

From time to time, district managers may need to run a support shift because of issues that happen during the day-to-day operations. But their ultimate responsibility is to ensure that the managers and their teams are following the brand’s standards and the business procedures the organization has defined. 


Responsibility #5: Maintenance

It implies making sure that all the units are clean and safe for the crew and the customers, with all the equipment in good working order, and operating with a high level of excellence while providing a great image and experience for everyone.

District managers must be proactive and assertive in detecting what needs to be improved as they visit the units. Having this “clinical eye” will help avoid any business interruption, as well as ensure that the people, the product, and the customers are safe. 


Responsibility #6: Marketing

It does not mean that the multi-unit leader does all the marketing. But they do have to identify which units are ready for increased revenue so they can then co-create a local store marketing plan, together with the unit manager and the leadership team, to increase sales year over year.

This is a joint responsibility because nobody knows the local community the way the unit manager and their team does. That’s why the role of the district manager is to help and guide them in creating this plan. 


Responsibility #7: Results

At the end of the day, we are in business to make money. So everything that district managers do, from the leadership, planning, staffing, execution, maintenance, and marketing, is all to produce the profitability that the business owner is expecting as a return on the investment made in that brand.

  • These results are not only in the area of financials, but also in the area of business, growth, culture, development, and all the other areas that district managers are responsible for. 

And, as mentioned earlier, the people are going to be driving all of these results. 


As you can see, the job of a district manager is very different from that of a unit manager. That is why so many multi-unit leaders struggle, they overwork, and get jammed trying to apply the knowledge and skills they acquired as unit managers when the roles are not the same thing. 

For many district managers, it takes a long time to understand this; others never get there. 

I hope this was eye-opening and gave you clarity on what to expect from the district manager’s role. If you are a struggling district manager or a multi-unit business owner that is missing these responsibilities in your organization, I would like to invite you to discover The Multi-Unit Leadership Certification Program.

This is is our ten-week district managers’ training program, where we provide these amazing people with the knowledge, the tools, the resources, and the support they need to acquire so that they can be effective and efficient district managers. 

Register for free for our next information session at and decide if this is what you're looking for to help your people be successful, have job satisfaction, and produce the expected results to succeed with your business. 

Don’t forget to follow us on our social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn), and subscribe to our YouTube Channel to get information that will help you be more successful in your business.


  • Are your district managers fulfilling these responsibilities as they should?
  • If you are a district manager, what are you lacking (in terms of training or systems) to perform better? 
  • What’s the status of your leadership bench?
  • Are you receiving/delivering the expected results to have a positive return on investment?