Tony Martin asks a few questions of the Canadian Franchise Association, CFA

September 22, 2012

Mr. Richard Cunningham spoke very professionally and accurately for the franchisor- and supplier-only association.

Mr. Tony Martin, MPP was a key player in asking the right questions which helped clarify how much contempt each stakeholder had for the democratic process. There were five expert witness spots in the 4 days of travelling public hearings that resulted in the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), 2000. The subcommittee gave the CFA one of those slots.  The complete record of testimony can be found on WikidFranchise.org.

Questions

[...]
Mr Martin: I’m following up on the question that Richard [Patten, MPP] asked a few minutes ago in terms of who you’ve actually kicked out of the association. I’m led to believe that, in fact, you’ve only revoked the membership of one and that was Pizza Pizza. Is that correct?

Mr Cunningham: I’m not at liberty to say, I believe. That would be privileged information of the association and I don’t think it’s appropriate to make any of that public here.

Mr Martin: You’re not going to give me any numbers even?

Mr Cunningham: No.

Mr Martin: Then just to query as to the membership in your group and who you speak for, I’m led to believe that you have 220 out of about 1,300 franchise systems in the country. Is that correct?

Mr Cunningham: I don’t what the date of that paper is, but our franchise member list is just over 300 right now because some of our member companies, like CARA, for example, would have eight brand names.

Mr Martin: And 80 of your members are lawyers, accountants or consultants?

Mr Cunningham: Correct.

Mr Martin: Also there are some big systems-and we heard from one of them today-that don’t belong to your association. Do you have any auto dealers?

Mr Cunningham: No.

Mr Martin: Do you have any food stores?

Mr Cunningham: Yes.

Mr Martin: How many?

Mr Cunningham: One chain.

Mr Martin: Petroleum stations?

Mr Cunningham: Yes, Petrocan.

Mr Martin: What about hotels and motels?

Mr Cunningham: Yes, a number of them.

Mr Martin: You made a statement earlier about the information I shared with the committee that the perception out there is that there’s lower risk by going into a franchise than the independent small business route. I have a study that suggests that’s not the case that the incidence of failure in franchising is greater than in going the independent route.

Mr Cunningham: I don’t know your study so I can’t comment on it.

Mr Martin: It’s a study called Survival Patterns among Franchisee and Nonfranchise Firms Started in 1986 and 1987. I can give you a copy of the report. It was reviewed by Ms Susan Swift from our legislative research branch, and it’s actually quite interesting. It has a number of findings that I think maybe your association might find worth looking at because it challenges very seriously the contention-and I suggest it’s something that needs to be perhaps looked into further. If we’re offering franchising in the country as a more secure way to get into business, particularly in an environment where there are a lot of people who are being restructured and walking around with severance packages looking for someplace to invest them and they are thinking that franchising is a bit more risk-free than actually setting up an independent business, then we may be sending them down a road that will result in stories such as the ones we’ve heard over the last two or three days here.

Mr Cunningham: Can I respond to that?

The Vice-Chair: Go ahead, sir. We’re just about out of time here now.

Mr Cunningham: Even if these statistics are out there, and as people are being told that franchises are more successful than non-franchises, the disclosure is going to give them the information and the ability to contact people in the system. If they call up XYZ system and talk to 10 of the franchisees and they say, “I’m not allowed to associate,” “I’m not making any money,” “I’ve been in this business five years and I’ve lost money,” or “I’m not in the system any more because I lost my life savings,” I think that in itself is going to tell those people, regardless of what any statistics are, not to buy.

Mr Martin: The problem is, though, that a lot of the people that they should actually talk to have signed confidentiality agreements and they can’t talk.

Mr Cunningham: They wouldn’t be able to do that, though, with this disclosure legislation.

The Vice-Chair: Richard, thank you so much for your time today and for the presentation you left with us.


There was one glorious time when the truth about Big Franchising was revealed and recorded

July 25, 2012

QueensParkFour days in 2000.

March 6, 7, 8 and 9.

Public hearings into the franchise relationship. Four days of traveling public hearings: Toronto, Sault Ste. Marie, Ottawa and London. Ontario, Canada. Traveling public hearing: extremely rare, if not unheard of, under the Mike Harris government.

Approved by the former Ontario  Minister Robert Runciman over a beer with Tony Martin at the Queen’s Park members’ bar. Two men who share a love of democracy as expressed in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

I had the tremendous honour of traveling throughout Ontario as before these life stories were twisted into the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), 2000. I seemed to have made an impression on the politicians.

Of the current MPPs (107), I know 29 of them. One Minister since I was 17 years old. 45 minutes from my house to their House.

It happened once.

It can happen again.

– The Legislative Assembly of Ontario, looking north to the main doors, University Avenue, Toronto Ontario


Reza Solhi and 3 for 1 Pizza & Wings

December 22, 2008

3for1pizza11

Sean over at FranchisePick asked me if I knew of Mr. Solhi’s work.

Please note the first 6 articles that the Information Sharing Project would return if it were alive on the internet (searched for tradename). Download the entire article if you like.

  1. Frustrated franchisees call for legislation, The Globe and Mail, December 3, 1998 Excerpt from article: Jesu Dasan figures he lost $180,000 in the 20 months he operated a fast-food franchise in Scarborough, He alleges the franchisor changed the terms of the contract, which drastically reduced the number of homes his business was allowed to service. [download pdf]
  2. Ontario introduces bill to protect franchisees, The Toronto Star, December 4, 1998 Excerpt from article: “Everything goes to (the chain) … These people cheat us and we’ve lost everything.”…Vahdati said she and her husband spent $100,000 on legal costs in a fruitless court fight against the pizza-chain owner. [download pdf]
  3. New franchising  law called sales job: Ignores ongoing illicit practices, operator rep say, The Toronto Star, December 5, 1998 Excerpt from article: “This is the wooliest thing I’ve ever seen,”…Commercial Relations Minister Dave Tsubouchi “is just like one of the franchise hustlers,” said Stewart. “He’s selling an idea and there’s nothing in it.” [download pdf]
  4. Franchise laws welcome, The Toronto Sun, December 8, 1998 Excerpt from article: “What a disappointment.”…“This law is worse than what exists now, which is nothing,” snapped Les Stewart, founder of the Canadian Alliance of Franchise Operators. “It will only lull potential entrepreneurs into a false sense of security.” [download pdf]
  5. A declaration of war: breaking into the business, The desperation tactic of gaining entry to a locked business, known as ‘self-help’, is seen as an occasionally useful skill when relations hit a sour note., The Globe and Mail, January 13, 1999 Excerpt from article: Gaining entry to a locked business under cover of darkness isn’t taught in franchise manuals, but it’s a skill that both franchisees and franchisors occasionally find useful. [download pdf]
  6. The great franchise trap, The Indo-Canadian Voice, January 15-27, 1999 Excerpt from article: The family lost $150,000 and sadly, the man who put his life’s savings on this scheme, is today on welfare…“These people need to be protected. It is mostly the new immigrants who fall victims to such schemes. And in Ontario, there is very little by way of laws that can protect them in times of dispute.” [download pdf]

Anyone know what happened to these franchisees who were mentioned in the articles?

  • Wasim Ansari,
  • Tarek Fatah,
  • Rayappu Jesudasan [Jesu Dasan],
  • Ali Mahmoudzadeh,
  • Nhan Van Nguyen,
  • Fereshteh Vahdati, or
  • Ali Mehmood Zadeh

Or the other  people?

Richard Cunningham, John Deverell, Peter Macrae Dillon, Howard Hampton, Mike Harris, Murray Katzman, Linda Leatherdale, Ned Levitt, Tony Martin, Reza Solhi, John Southerst, David Sterns, David Tsubouchi, Dawn Walton

And these organizations?

Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, Canadian Alliance of Franchise Operators, Canadian Franchise Association, 3 For 1 Pizza and Wings, McDonald’s, Tim Hortons, Golden Griddle,  Siskinds, Cromarty, Ivey & Dowler, Canadian Tire, 3 for 3 Pizza Ltd., Canada Post, Ontario New Democratic Party

The sympathetic Toronto lawyers are there to manage your anger. That’s their job for the industry: a soft landing, breeding passivity.

A franchisee white knight (the appearance of franchisee advocacy while acting to weaken franchisees’ rights; a traitor) lawyer:

  • to ensure that learned helplessness infects the immigrant leaders by raising then dashing your hopes for justice.

No Canadian lawyer can survive financially by representing only franchisees. It is impossible. They HAVE to have to behave in an acceptable manner (don’t rock the boat) or the industry elite will not allow them to exist.

  1. The appearance of an opposing position provides the pretense of industry balance to outsiders.
  2. You are NOT protected by a lawyer’s theoretical fiduciary duty to a client when you talk to them initially. That protection is ONLY when you are in a solicitor:client relationship (a contract: agreement, money exchanged, etc.). Do NOT rely on his advice at this stage: He maybe protecting the industry’s interests (not yours).
  3. Because law services are a credence good, you never know exactly how or when your interests were sold down the river.

The antidote to compromised legal representation is a knowledgeable second opinion (ie. a consultant who does not make his living from the industry). They’re rare but if you know where to look for them, they’re out there.

But I’m the most special of all:

I seldom charge anything for my advice to franchisees.

It’s my way of giving back to an industry that has given so much to me and my family over the last 10 years. Call today 1-705-737-4635 and let’s discuss if the lawyers or I was more accurate in predicting Ontario’s franchise industry’s degeneration from 1998 to 2008.


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