Why the Franchisee Advocate?
Over the course of my career to date I’ve had the opportunity to work with and for some amazing franchise companies as well as having been a franchisee myself. It’s never ceased to amaze me how different many of these companies approached franchising. Some for the expansion alone, some for the money, and frankly some not knowing the why, how, and what their ultimate objectives and goals were. The latter being both mind boggling and very disconcerting.
Through it all what always concerned me the most was the potential Franchisee. The Franchisee that in many cases put all of their hard earned money on the table and made the decision with their hearts and not their head. So enthused by the “brand” or what the concept was selling they failed to do the homework necessary as well as bringing on a team of experts such as a well informed Franchise Lawyer, an Accountant familiar with Franchising, and finally someone to assist with the research and due diligence necessary so that they could make an informed decision.
Given the well over 4000 plus franchises being offered today, navigating and choosing which is the choice that provides the most promise for their return on investment, profitability, and a sound company is of paramount importance. This includes a well financed support infrastructure to lead the Franchisee to a sustainable and stable business. Of course this is providing that they, the Franchisee, also did their share of the work.
I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say that I spent sleepless nights having sold a franchise and not necessarily feeling good about it. Anyone who is in a capacity to sell franchises who tells you differently isn’t being honest. Either not being honest, are totally unaware, or seriously not caring about the interests of the Franchisee but caring more about the initial fee, royalties, paycheck and commission. We read and know that far too often franchise failures can be devastating for entire families. In many respects when it happens it’s downright sinful. Conversely, when all the stars are aligned properly a Franchisee that does exceptionally well is a sight to behold. Most franchisors who are sincerely dedicated to the success of the Franchisee will tell you that it makes all problems and issues go “away” when both the Franchisee and franchisor are profitable. It’s a beautiful thing.
The many organizations and individuals that say they advocate for the Franchisee are far and few in between if you really want to be honest about it. I’ve found that many who started out attempting to do the right thing simply wind up as lead generating web portals with a couple committees thrown in for good measure. There is seriously no “Grading” of franchisors and “Business Reviews” are sketchy at best. Even “Rankings” are simply solicitations for those on your subscriber list. The more extensive the list the higher the votes and rankings.
Of the larger “franchise associations” I find they create profit generating money pits with their certifications, education, and courses that for some serve minimal purpose and are incredibly expensive for those not financed by their companies (estimated to be anywhere between $5 to $7 thousand when membership, travel, accommodations, courses, and ancillary expenses are considered). Much of what they offer is really obtuse lexicon, franchise nomenclature, and minimally beneficial substance. To refer to them as the “Gold Standard” is ridiculous and no more prestigious than those who actually conduct business, properly and with integrity, on the ground. Of course there are exceptions and for the new entrant into franchising some content may be helpful but then much of that is readily available elsewhere. I also believe that if you participated and received your “designation” good for you. I’m not disparaging the concept, only the way in which it’s held out as the “solution” to knowing franchising. I’m certain a spirited arguable discussion could take place on both sides of the opinion. There is, however, no substitute for being in the thick of the business and learning from mentors who know what they’re talking about. For those who know franchise history it’s easy to think back to a time when the debate was all about whether or not to “allow” Franchisee’s in as part of these organizations. It took a lot of time before they acquiesced.
All of the above, and then some, brings me to the title question.
Why the Franchisee Advocate?
First, let me explain that I am an individual that will present clients with various franchise opportunities based on their desires, my experience, and the vetting necessary to provide the kind of opportunities that make sense. To be entirely transparent I will receive a fee by any franchisor with whom the potential Franchisee executes a contract for a franchise. There are no additional costs for the potential Franchisee with the exception of eventually recruiting a team of professionals e.g. Lawyer, Accountant, and Due Diligence assistance which I strongly advise and make part of what I do. An example of some of the criteria I use is as follows:
The differentiators between me and many others are simple. I’ve actually owned a franchise and my own operating business, sold franchises for companies, operated a franchise, built a franchise, was responsible for making a payroll, employing individuals, maintaining standards, developing operating manuals, plans, domestic development, international development, marketing, real estate, construction, making and exceeding the “budget objectives” for a very large PE firm, and on, and on.
I’m also of the ilk to be the first to tell you that franchising may not be for you. I’d just as soon let the potential Franchisee go having experienced a real world discussion than to attempt to protract the process and have them hang on. Today, for me, it’s all about giving back rather than taking. There isn’t a fee high enough to have me do the wrong thing to any potential Franchisee. It wouldn’t be right or fair and as I mentioned earlier I like to sleep nights.
I’ve come full circle in my career and have benefited by both success and failure…learning all along as I did. It’s time to pass that experience on, assist others in avoiding mistakes, and to not have potential franchisees pushed, cajoled, or pressured into a “deal” that isn’t in their best interests. I’ve seen far too many concepts that have no business franchising except in an attempt to meet their own dreams at the expense of others. These companies perhaps mean well but are in over their heads because in some cases they’ve been sold an outsourced franchising package at considerable expense with visions of glory and becoming the next big thing. While that’s not impossible you’d be hard pressed to find many that were, or are, truly successful by any normal set of acceptable criteria. One of the single misnomers you’ll hear from relatively new franchisors is that “we’re part of a multi-billion dollar industry”. That’s similar to saying there are 7,794,798,739 people on the planet and some could be your customers. If a franchisor wishes to make the claim ask them “of the multi-billion dollar industry you speak of what is, or what do you expect to be, your market share percentage”?
It’s often said that franchising is one of the most regulated industries.
I absolutely disagree.
It is hardly regulated with the exception of FTC Franchise Rules that barely scratch the surface. This is why you see legislation attempts to increase accountability and requirements. The forces opposed to such legislation are extremely well funded, have an exceptional presence in the halls of state and federal senates, and send in, seemingly by parachute, lawyers by the dozens to oppose anything close to more regulation. For me the entire industry needs disruption, licensing, and better governance. This is also why working with and within what we have is so vitally important in protecting Franchisees who wish to move forward with franchising. Thus, the Franchisee Advocate. An advocate more concerned about the Franchisee than his or her paid commission. One who is committed to doing the right thing on their behalf rather than their own. Look hard enough and you’ll find many who feel the same as I do. Look even harder and you’ll find franchisors who are dedicated solely to your success as well as theirs.
“Do the right thing, you’ll sleep better”