Welcome to the Pie Face case study in financial engineering: debt- and franchisee-destruction mode.

December 14, 2014

Modern franchising purges itself of unwanted legal obligations: debt and franchisee life savings.

Pie face welcom

It is instructive to see this ostensible “failure” in slow-motion.

Articles so far, since October 2014:

Analogy: Modern franchising is the operating system software (a technology). The cute logos are simply the different software applications  that run on this extremely sophisticated operation system. There is merit in not revealing this code (eg. may hinder “cooling out the marks“)

Australia, United States, Canada, Great Britain, India…it’s all the same common law (contract law technology/architecture).

Keep an eye on WikidFranchise’s archive of articles on Pie Face (click here)

pieface8

Founders Wayne Homschek and Betty Fong at a Pie Face in Sydney’s Bondi Junction in the early days. Picture: Troy Bendeich Source: News Corp Australia

Intentional Insolvency: While it is revealed in the report that Mr Homschek probably has no personal assets in Australia, the Pie Face founder and his wife have now put forward a deal to seize back control of the group from voluntary administrators with the backing of TCA and a fresh capital raising on Wall Street.

That proposal will be put to creditors at a meeting slated for tomorrow in Sydney. The administrators have recommended creditors vote in favour of the proposal by Mr Homschek.


The Canadian Alliance of Franchise Operators, CAFO

November 26, 2014

We created CAFO in 1998 to give voice to “mom-and-pop” franchise operators.

cafo_smvlogo

We were the 1st association in Canada to improve the commercial interests of 76,000 franchise families because:

  • there was no Ontario law,
  • there was no one for journalists to talk to,
  • there was no one for politicians to learn from,
  • there was no FranchiseFool.com and WikidFranchise.org, or and
  • there was nothing to protect the “little guys”.

And more importantly, there was no where for franchisees to talk confidentially with someone they could trust.

In 2014, heading into the 15th anniversary of the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), there are a lot of alternatives if franchisees wish to use them. (call: 705-737-4635)

This is one of the first articles (Sept 1998) in the Toronto Star called, Franchisees need fair-deal law:

LesStewartFRANCHISEE FIGHTER: Former franchisee Les Stewart has taken up the cause of franchisees.

WHAT PROTECTS A SMALL FRANCHISEE IN ONTARIO AGAINST UNFAIR DEALING BY THE FRANCHISOR CONTROLLING THE SYSTEM?

We asked Les Stewart, a landscaping supplies retailer in Barrie and a former franchisee and founder of the fledgling Canadian Association of Franchise Operators. (second of two parts)

Franchising is a $100 billion sector and a powerful concept of business organization. Many of Canada’s 76,000 franchise operators make a good buck.

But others, like Stewart, an MBA from the University of Western Ontario in London, have sad stories about being put into failing situations by deceptive franchisors, stripped of their savings and crushed by the costs of litigation in Ontario’s totally unregulated franchising regime.

Everyone warns prospective franchisees to investigate before investing, but exactly how are they supposed to check out the records of the 1,350 franchisors who want to sell them a business? Which are exemplary, which have reasonable standards of conduct, and which are practicing legalized fraud?

The best approach is to talk to franchisees in the system to find out whether head office delivers the business training and support it promises, and respects the commercial territories it purports to sell.

Unfortunately, there is no efficient way to identify and then locate those who have the most interesting tale to tell – the franchisees who failed. How many of these unfortunates have been spat out by each franchise system, who are they and why did they sell or go under?

Most U.S. states addressed this question with law decades ago, and Alberta adopted a similar standard in the 1990s. They require public disclosure of contract terms and verifiable disclosure of franchisee experience.

The laws cover all franchisors from mighty McDonald’s and across a business gamut that includes, among many others, such familiar names as Coffee Time, Mr. Sub, Mr. Lube, Giant Tiger, Mail Boxes Etc., First Choice Haircutters, Medichair, M&M Meat, Kiddie Kobbler, One Hour Motophoto, Ramada, Rent-a-Wreck, Ryan’s Quality Pet Foods, Shred-It, Servicemaster Lawn Care and about 1,340 others.

Ontario should have the disclosure Alberta has – and more, Stewart says. The law should allow franchisees to associate without fear of reprisal, and fact-finding to resolve disputes or affordable compulsory arbitration.

Any franchisee can go to court, says Stewart, but it’s no fun playing David to a franchisor’s Goliath in long and costly civil proceedings.

In Ontario, the Harris government’s draft legislation does not provide for a central registry of franchisor disclosures, and requires only that disclosure be made to a franchisee prospect before a contract is signed.

That’s essentially worthless, says Stewart. He says Queen’s Park should recognize franchising as an important function like banking or securities trading.

mike bear-webA little older with a unique background to bring to the table.

Still willing to talk to franchisees and their families.

Les Stewart Consulting: les.j.stewart@gmail.com


Tony Martin: Why 100,000 CDN franchisee families should keep his family in their thoughts.

February 17, 2014

The Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure) Act, 2000 exists because of Martin. He draws people together is a way only an Irish immigrant could.
Tony Martin

I would suggest ALL franchisees, everywhere, who know enough to value the legal protections that “good faith, fair dealings and commercially reasonable” might give to their life, recognize this, faith-filled parliamentarian’s fearless role in not managing but eradicating  predatory industry practices, starting in 1996.

As reported in the Sault Star, NDP colleagues offer words of support after Tony Martin hospitalized after suffering stroke:

The longtime NDP politician and anti-poverty activist reportedly suffered the stroke Sunday.

Bud Wildman, former provincial cabinet minister and a close friend, said doctors are hopeful Martin, 65, will recover.

He said Martin’s family is by his side.

“I’m concerned for my friend. He’s a strong person. I’m hoping he’ll make a full recovery,” said Wildman.

My thoughts are with Bud, Madge, Karen and Jacques and especially Anna and their children.


Your quest for franchisee justice will lead you to a “white knight” lawyer who will betray you.

September 2, 2013

The franchise bar appears to 1st time user franchisees as fundamentally fair, adversarial and zero sumThat is a dangerous myth.

(c) Walker Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The economic incentives for the “franchisee-friendly attorneys” are to give the pretence of a fair fight (definition: an attempt to make something that is not the case appear true OED) since your being sold-out can be easily explained. Franchisee stupidity and shortsightedness is the most cited, least reality-based reason given.

Answer:

Your franchisee attorney will defect on 100% of all large cases because the franchise industry is effectively a single-payer industry for legal services (franchisors: +95%). As in other human waste treatment systems, the franchise bar functions to let pass the little cases go to trial (to keep the payers fearful and motivated) but skims off the large chunks for the elite 2 firms.

Question:

Why would any franchisor pay out 100% of a massive claim to a group of franchisees for multi-year bad faith dealings when they could cut two cheques (1. their own lawyers and 2. your attorney) to manage the case to a “satisfactory conclusion”? Would 10 per cent of what franchisees are owed be a reasonably figure?

If you were a rational, profit-maximizing multi-decade career Big Franchising professional (who has their own very high sunk costs invested in the status quo industry practices and structure, btw), Wouldn’t YOU just keep your mouth shut, turn a blind eye and play along, too?

There are ways to deal with these perfectly explainable and rational, multiple-level credence good dangers but you may need to start serving legitimate authority instead of the posers that scatter when the light switch goes on the industry.

Sir Galahad:The Quest of the Holy Grail,  Arthur Hughes, 1870.


Serruya family buys Kahala, Cold Stone and others

August 23, 2013

Multi-tradename franchisors often are (how should I say this) the least sensitive to franchisees’ investment concerns,

BMM Cold stone

A very good article on Blue MauMau by Janet Sparks, Kahala Acquired in Auction by Serruya Family:

TORONTO – The Serruya family today announced that they have acquired a controlling interest in Kahala Corp., owner of Cold Stone Creamery and many other franchised brands. The transaction was completed on Monday.

The Serruya family brings substantial experience in franchising to Kahala. They are planning for growth of Kahala brands in both international and North American markets.

The new franchisors seem to have to prove something to knowledgeable franchisee advocates.

Former Cold Stone franchisee Cecil Rolle, who has been engaged in litigation with the franchisor said, “I’m hoping the acquisition of Kahala Corp by the Serruya Family is a watershed moment for Cold Stone Creamery franchisee profitability and the harmonization of the franchisor to franchisee relationship, which has been as contentious as they come. The Serruya Family will have to prove to me they are serious about the concerns of the franchisees and their families. Rolle has been an advocate for current franchisees, assisting them in profitability and other issues.

Some of the comments about the buyers from a related Globe and Mail article are speak to all the franchisees might be in for:

10. Sniktaw
Have to agree with the general thrust of the other posts here. These scumbags are right up there with Marc Tellier re ability to engineer massive shareholder value destruction whilst at the same time garnering obscene riches for themselves.
11. 911c2
i also got creamed owning their stock. Also, rode up the swisher stock that coolbrands turned into. That stock was jacked up to $10 now its at $1 again!! I will run away from anything that they are selling. No more stocks from them. won’t even try yogurtys since they r involved. Are they still doiong business deals with Jack Banqueseus aka Jack Banks who had four public shell stocks?
this post is all in my humble opinion

Franchisees have much, much less protection against opportunism than do owners of publicly traded stock.


God I am soooo sick of franchisee families’ pathetically, neverendingly bleating about injustice.

June 30, 2013

Moral indignation is a technique used to endow the idiot with dignity.

Mcluhan thug

The latest pathetic example is the entirely predictable Lick’s “fiasco”.

Please: give me a break. Like it hasn’t been  happening for 30, 40 years with the full knowledge of the legal, banking and political communities. Take a look at WikidFranchise.org to hear those inconvenient life stories.

Sure when you lose big-time it hurts. but where were the tears for the thousands of others that went before you?

My experience is that the real reason many franchisees are upset about not being on the power end of the relationship. They got stuck with the shit end of the stick before they could stick the next guy.

And this may sound harsh, but they will double-cross anyone that offers help in good faith.

Drop the scales from your eyes and grow up.

I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t believed it. Marshall McLuhan.


Why is Lick’s Homeburgers & Ice Cream being killed off by its franchisor?

June 29, 2013

What franchisor sends this message to the retail market?

Licks valued customer

Is it in acting in bad faith by destroying all existing Lick’s franchisees’ equity?

  • Who would buy any of these outlets?

Licks

Media coverage:

The franchise bar, with perfect foreknowledge, will take what is left of their money in what will be (in the end) a hopelessly futile attempt at legal justice in Ontario. Talk to your premier and your small business loan provider not your a franchise lawyer.


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