How would your franchisees answer this question, “Does your franchisor have integrity?”

Integrity is what you do when nobody is watching!

Some franchisors appear to believe that when a person asks for the franchisor’s FDD they need not give it.

Why? Here is, slightly edited a franchisor’s broker’s answer,  which appeared on a major business social network.

“Because they [franchisor] are not required to provide an FDD upon request.

Here is the excerpt from the FTC 2008 updated ruling:

“Upon reasonable request, franchisors also must furnish a disclosure document to a prospective franchisee earlier in the sales process than 14 calendar days before the franchisee signs or pays.

The failure to comply with a reasonable request for an earlier delivery is an independent violation of the Rule. This does not mean that a franchisor must tender a disclosure document to any person who asks for a copy.

Rather, it applies where the parties have taken steps to begin the sales process.”

The problem is that many franchisors begin a validation process with the prospective franchisee, but believe that they haven’t “taken steps to begin the sales process”.

But, the way I see it, is if a candidate is on a validation call then I think it’s hard to dispute that you’re not knee deep in the sales process!

Some brokers will argue otherwise.

“If I took a lead to many franchisors and after the first call said to the franchisor, “the candidate would like to reasonably request an FDD at this time” most of them WOULD indeed laugh or explain their “sales process” to me where the FDD is provided after the application which comes after the webinars and other phone calls.

I can only think of a handful of times where an FDD was provided after the first call with a franchisor.”

Irrespective of FTC Franchise Rule enforcement, it’s not the candidate’s duty to know that they are entitled to an FDD upon reasonable request, it is the duty of the franchisor to comply with the FTC Rule.

If you as a broker or the franchisor has a bona fide prospect considering a particular franchise you as the broker must communicate an FDD request to the franchisor. The franchisor must fulfill the request and track and record all FDD requests.

Even if the FTC is not watching, it is not okay for franchisors and brokers to break the rule. I recommend taking a look at The Franchise Sellers Handbook. It’s a great resource and most likely will answer a lot of questions that you may have.

Remember, integrity is what you do when nobody is watching!

*Reprinted from International of Association Franchisees and Dealers Feb 2012

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Franchise Growth or Future Problems?

After what many franchise professionals claim was a tough couple of years, franchising seems to be gaining momentum once again. This is very encouraging news! But, franchisors must be prepared, not only to handle the increase in inquiries, but in working effectively with today’s franchise candidates who many have indicated are more diligent and cautious than ever before. Many of today’s candidates are voluntarily or involuntarily unemployed, soon to be unemployed, or, may just want to control their own destiny, and are approaching business ownership with the attitude that failure is not an option. In dealing with these candidates, it is essential to exercise extreme diligence in presenting the franchise opportunity all the way through to executing the franchise agreement, and beyond.

I know, many franchise professionals are probably thinking they already do that. Besides, it’s the law to fully disclose the opportunity, right? They’ll go on to state they’ve always done things by the book, at all times. Blah, blah, blah! It really doesn’t matter what was done in the past, how it was done, or why it was done. What matters is that the opportunities that present themselves today and in the future receive timely, diligent attention, at a high level of professionalism, in order for a transitioning corporate executive / business professional to even consider a company’s franchise opportunity. And, if they ultimately do sign the franchise agreement, remit the franchise fee, and commit to investing a substantial sum of money, rest assured these new franchisees will expect and command a high level of accountability from the franchisor, and from the system itself. From themselves? Not likely as they will rarely blame themselves for any part of failure. But they will hold others accountable.

Well, my fellow franchise professionals, it’s time to press those conservative suits, study your franchise documents, fine-tune your operations, and examine and perfect your franchise sales process as any shortcomings will surely raise their ugly heads in the future if today’s new franchisees become dismayed, discontented, and or fail in their businesses. They will not hold themselves accountable. Instead, they will blame the person who “sold” them their franchise, or the operations department that they perceive to have provided little or no support, or the franchise executive that they feel showed no compassion in “forcing” them into paying royalties and advertising fees.

So, why did I turn what started out to be a positive of increased franchise interest after a year of disappointing results, and turn it into a picture of potential problems complete with gloom and doom? To encourage and motivate every franchise professional to be on his or her A-game and to put their house in order. Not only to bring new franchisees and revenue into the system, but to continue to grow their system with franchisees that, when attaining a relative level of success, will refer new franchise candidates, validate the franchise system, and possibly look to purchase additional locations in the future. The alternative of course, is dedication of resources to dispute resolution, and possible litigation. Remember the old Fram oil filter commercial? You can pay now, or pay later!


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