3 Things to Do [and Not] to resist Opportunism

December 29, 2008

I have been asked dozens of times what franchisees should do.

They frequently have come to me with a specific complaint that is triggered by a heavy-handed franchisor action.

Here are 3 things you should do:

  1. Meet in small groups to address a single topic at a time. Maximum 5 or 6 people until the preliminary work is done. Focus on non-controversial cost reduction strategies.
  2. Involve partners from the beginning right on through to the end. They have exactly 50% of the legal rights to know and can be an excellent support, sounding board and resource.
  3. Pool some upfront money and get a business consultant that specialized in franchising. Have an introductory meeting and move forward based on some preliminary research focusing on justifying action on your increased future cash flow via supply efficiencies. [This type of business consulting is what I do.]

These are the 3 things you should NOT do.

  1. Do not define your franchise problem as, primarily a legal problem. This anchors the discussions in a competitive, win:lose, confrontational model and distracts from creative, much less expensive alternate dispute resolution methods. The law has its place but is, by definition, your least favoured alternative (and your franchisor’s major strength).
  2. Do not go and talk to a franchise law expert lawyer. By all means, talk to whatever local or regional lawyer you want to and check out your business consultant’s advice against an experienced commercial regional lawyer. Trust the consultant but verify his advice.
  3. Do not be disheartened by past failures. As in any organization, there are 101 reasons for past failures but only 1 reason for success. All not-for-profit organizations go through teething stages; that’s normal. Often the longest serving franchisees will be the LAST to step up initially but they will usually come around when little victories are won.

Starting an independent franchisee Association, IndFA seems like a radical thing to do.

  • But when you think of it the franchisors, bankers, lawyers, trustees (everyone else) has their associations to protect them. Why don’t you have one?

Yes. There are always franchisees willing to rat you out to curry favour with the boss. It takes time (you first have to rebuild trust), money, and the work is not equally shared by members. Lots of times people fail. But these are characteristics of every group I’ve ever been involved with in 37 years of volunteerism.

Every right is fought and paid for by somebody. You just joined an industry that buys their food at the company store, just like the miners did 150 years ago. The dignity of labour was won on the broken heads of those who chose to resist tyranny.

  • Or if that’s too heavy, listen to Tom sing about the consequences of choosing a refugee’s path in life.

Refugee, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

We got somethin’ we both know it
We don’t talk too much about it
Yeah it ain’t no real big secret all the same
Somehow we get around it
Listen it don’t really matter to me baby
You believe what you want to believe
You see you don’t have to live like a refugee

Somewhere, somehow somebody
Must have kicked you around some
Tell me why you wanna lay there
And revel in your abandon
Honey it don’t make no difference to me baby
Everybody’s had to fight to be free
You see you don’t have to live like a refugee
Now baby you don’t have to live like a refugee

Baby we ain’t the first
I’m sure a lot of other lover’s been burned
Right now this seems real to you
But it’s one of those things
You gotta feel to be true

Somewhere, somehow somebody
Must have kicked you around some
Who knows, maybe you were kidnapped
Tied up, taken away and held for ransom
It don’t really matter to me
Everybody’s had to fight to be free
You see you don’t have to live like a refugee
I said you don’t have to live like a refugee


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