A Trap for the Trusting: A hopelessly romantic view of franchising

humpbackanglerfish“A Trap for the Trusting”

Harold Brown, Boston, USA-based lawyer, coined this not-famous enough phrase in describing franchising well over 40 years ago.

  • Sad to report, it’s gotten much worse. The table manners appear better but the rot goes deeper.

The reason is that there is a veneer of respectability that was missing in those raw, cowboy days. It is more treacherous being a franchisee than when Brown was alive and practicing law.

Analysis: There are two ways to win at any competition:

  • One is to raise your game [internal] and
  • Two is to to lower your opponent’s competence [external].

G.K. Chesterton put it well:

It is perfectly obvious that in any decent occupation (such as bricklaying or writing books) there are only two ways (in any special sense) of succeeding.

One is by doing very good work, the other is by cheating.

  • The franchise industry has consistently chosen to cheat.

The architects of that game is the franchise bar and, specifically, the Alpha Male franchisor lawyer [aka Tin Pot Tyrant].

  • These credence good providers cheat principally by managing the illusion that franchisees have only one route to resolving disputes [lawsuit].
  • and that they stand more than 0% chance to win in 100% of lawsuits and
  • Any, anywhere the law is fine enough to catch blatant fraud.
  • Of course, there are some temporary “wins” by franchisees but that is useful in maintaining false hope.

In nature, luring someone to their death is a well-studied strategy. It works really, really well.

Aggressive mimicry is:

…a form of mimicry where predators, parasites or parasitoids share similar signals with a harmless model, allowing them to avoid being correctly identified by their prey or host. In its broadest sense, it involves any type of exploitation,…

A “harmless model” is an experienced regional commercial lawyer. A mimicking predator is listed on the national franchisor trade association’s web site.

The Greatest Lies are Told in Silence: the deceived animal (franchisee) is unaware [before AND after] that there is a trap (although observers know full well) and is steered into believing that the Big Bad Wolf franchisor huffed and puffed their life savings away.

Many aggressive mimics use the promise of nourishment as a way of attracting prey. Though apparent to observers, the irony of falling prey when trying to capture its own is certainly lost on the deceived animal. Wikipedia

The Humpback anglerfish uses a modified dorsal spine as a bioluminescent ‘fishing rod’ to capture prey.

“My. What big teeth you have, Grandma.”

One Response to A Trap for the Trusting: A hopelessly romantic view of franchising

  1. Carol Cross says:

    Yes! The Ugly and Dark Side of Franchising has been hidden throughout the years because, of course, it is one of the biggest “games” in town and protected by the BAR who preserves the butter for its own bread, and protected by all the other special interests ( governments too) who believe they benefit from franchising and the ignorance and trust of of those who NEED a job — especially in bad times.

    History repeats itself, huh! Almost FORTY YEARS AGO, before the regulation of franchising (ha! ha!) by The Federal Trade Commission, we learn from reporter, Jullie Bennett, in a Nov.-Dec. 2009 Franchise Times Article that: “a MAY 1970 FRONT-PAGE ARTICLE IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL SAID:

    “Once considered the darling of Wall Street and the savior of the small businessman, franchising today is spurned on Wall Street and cursed on Main Street.” The article went on to say, “some business greenhorns have sunk all of their savings into franchises only to see everything evaporate.”

    “My, What big teeth you have, Grandma” and for THIRTY YEARS The FTC Rule and state UFOC’s and FDD’s have provided the best “tooth whitener” that could be had to enhance Grandma’s sweet smile!

    I understand the ex-President of the United States is going to be the guest speaker at the IFA convention. I read recently that someone in our Congress introduced a Bill that would permit VETS to access the cash in the GI Education package to buy a franchise!

    Pretty ugly stuff!



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