Opportunity Knocks and Liars’ Loans: required reading to understand modern franchising

September 1, 2012

John Lorinc wrote the book on franchising from a franchisee’s investor viewpoint.

I’m glad to see it is still available to buy online and is in many Canadian libraries.

The hidden banking side is revealed in Chapter 4, The 90% Solution: Franchise Economics, some of which I excerpted in a WikidFranchise.org post.

What did the business press have to say about Lorinc’s work?:

  1. National PostOpportunity Knocks: The Truth about Canada’s Franchise Industry, is an impressively researched look at the myriad of franchises that mushroomed across the country in the past decade. An award-winning magazine journalist, Lorinc has produced an engaging account that charts both the spectacular successes of some franchisers and the utter failure of some franchisees. How franchises seduce those with the most to lose, Jennifer Lanthier, November 2, 1997
  2. Globe and Mail: At its worst, Lorinc says, franchising is a haven for the unscrupulous who prey on the unwary – typically recent immigrants willing to labour long hours in dreary businesses, unaware that those operations have little chance of prospering – using them as pawns in a shadowy real estate game. Rather than reflecting an insatiable consumer demand, he inquires acidly, is it possible that all those new doughnut shops may reflect a quiet understanding between landlords and franchisors that the best way to fill fallow commercial property is to sell franchises to credulous investors? Franchise book of interest to anyone who pays taxes, Ann Finlayson, November 1, 1997

Finlayson strikes a cautionary note, specifically about the hinted at misuse of the Canada Small Business Financing programCSBFP:

Does all this matter to you? Yes, it does. In 1993, in the wake of vigorous complaints by small-business owners that Canadian banks were reluctant to finance them, Ottawa raised the ceiling on loans guaranteed by the Small Business Loans Administration to $250,000 and its guarantee rate from 85 per cent to 90 per cent, sparking a bank lending rush to franchisees and shifting the risk of franchise investments onto taxpayers’ (your) shoulders.

The Risk: Only a fraction of the Liars’ Loans are ever claimed by the banks, thereby grossly understating Industry Canada’s default statistics (Franchised v. Non-Franchised loan performance). The franchisee thinks he signed a government-backed loan but it never gets registered as such. As their bankruptcy, loss of life savings, marital and family breakdown escalate over the life of their 12 to 18 month franchise career, the franchisee NEVER looks to Box 9 of the CSBFP loan application form (Projected Sales ) as the source of their trouble; where the lie is put into the “Liars’ Loan”. The proceeds of these engineered-to-fail loans is split upfront by the franchise banker with the bank, banker, franchisor and sales agent. If questioned, the bank shreds the paperwork and waits for the lawsuit.

And, seriously, how many of these Immigrants as prey losers could or would ever sue a Schedule 1 chartered bank?

The Return: Smashing quarterly earnings goals, record profits, high turnover in the small business division of each of the banks, and making franchise lending the most lucrative form of commercial lending in Canada. Private gain/public loss enabled by a criminogenic environment, moral hazard, regulatory capture…

Lorinc carefully mentions the “windfall profits” in this arrangement of churning:

What’s more, some banks and franchisors have put the SBLA program [predecessor government guaranteed loan program] to questionable use during foreclosure actions against franchisees, says one former owner who has been through the process. When a bank calls a loan against a non-performing franchisee, the 90% guarantee effectively relieves the bank’s receiver from trying to get the best possible value while disposing of the owner’s assets. With most of the loan covered by the Canadian taxpayer, the assets – fixtures, kitchen equipment, inventory, etc. – can be sold quickly at a deep discount, possibly below market value. This allows the franchisor too step in and buy back the property at better-than-firesale prices, thus generating windfall profit when the store is later re-sold to another franchisee.

An important work that, depressingly, is as relevant in 2012 as it was in 1995.

______

Disclosure: My lol pecuniary interest here and here. Cross posted on FranchiseBanker.ca.


Suing your Franchise Banker: Girding one’s Loins

July 24, 2008

Since I have set this up for a client and defined Predatory franchise lending to the Canadian government, I can tell you.

In 1995, an award-winning Canadian investigative journalist named John Lorinc published his first book, called Opportunity Knocks: The Truth About Canada’s Franchise Industry. An excellent resource; totally blackballed by the industry.

  • Canada is the first stop overseas for U.S. franchisors so our experiences are very relevant anywhere in the world.

Click here for an emphasis-added excerpt from Lorinc’s Chapter 4 called, The 90% Solution: Franchise Economics.

It deals with the a specialized corporate entity: the Franchise Banker. You should find this book and order it online if you are at all serious about learning about modern franchising.

Interesting stuff. The government guaranteed loan program is really just the icing on the cake for these most aggressive of bankers.

If it doesn’t jingle, it doesn’t count.

Rich Mimick, my business school accounting professor

Learn how franchising is financed to know who really is in charge. The brains of this outfit sure ain’t the franchisors, my little overly-trusting friend.

BTW: I should mention I had an eventful 6 week career with a Canadian bank in 2000. The training program was going well [we both thought] until they realized I was that Les Stewart.

  • Big Franchising delivers very sharp disincentives to those that raise uncomfortable questions.

The latest example was last month regarding selling insurance into the Canadian franchise industry. Who wouldn’t want me as their insurance broker, I ask you?

It seems history means nothing to some industries:

It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.

Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th U.S. president

An early (around 1400) drawing of a chastity belt. [above, thanks to Wikipedia]


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