Franchisee associations: House versus field negroes

Organizing a franchisee association is fraught with peril.mousetrapIt can be just another cynical trap for the trusting.

There are three types of groups of franchisees:

  1. unorganized (no groups).
  2. franchisee advisory boards (an obvious lapdog) and
  3. independent franchise associations, IndFA.

Most people think that any type of IndFA is preferable to #1 or #2.

  • They’re wrong.
  • They’re wrong.
  • They’re wrong

The worst type of franchisee organization is an IndFA that gives the appearance of independence but is, in fact, serves their executives’ personal or their advisors’ needs. These I call house negro IndFAs. It’s called deceit and betrayal.

  • They auction off their access to information to the highest bidder: the franchisor.

It should come as no surprise that the IndFA’s legal counsel is the role that becomes the most compromised (credence good cheaters). They make much more money and status from leaking information than they ever do representing franchisees or charging an executive. They can’t help themselves: they could not earn a living playing it straight.

Listen to J.K Galbraith:

People need to think of themselves as unmanaged, independent and free, if they are to be controlled with maximum success.

House negro IndFAs are there not to solve problems, but to create obstacles to real change. They are charming, they whisper compromises and they will use a leader’s ambition to turn his or her head. They are stuffed with talking heads mouthing words that seem worthwhile but are designed to trick you.

I am a field negro and I only associate with other field negroes: individually and in groups.

I get paid for giving advice, not for making promises that will never come true. I promise nothing except confidentiality, friendship and a chance to live with dignity. I have no “black box” of association management services. There are no advertisements here or on because commercial interests always favour the dominant economic power, directly or indirectly. I do not make ” a very good living”. I do not auction off access to information to the highest bidder. I always make sure the ownership and control of all data is in the franchisees’ hands (not just mine). I do not “manage” franchisees: I work specific projects on behalf of them. The lessons franchisees learn organizing themselves, stays with franchisees.

I am not the most charming person in franchising but because of how I operate, I may be the loneliest.

I don’t bait traps for franchisees: I spring ’em.

15 Responses to Franchisee associations: House versus field negroes

  1. Carol Cross says:

    Les! Just recently the Franchisees of the Children’s Orchard, a children’s consignment store franchise, formed an Association named The Orchard Cooperative and they have their own TOC website.

    On this website, they have posted the contracts, the opinion of AFFD concerning the franchise agreement, comparison of their franchise and competetors contracts, articles about franchising, and a bio of the CEO with whom they are unhappy.

    Take a look at this and tell me what you think. Isn’t this a good and safe and somewhat inexpensive vehicle to force the franchisor into a little collective bargaining?


  2. Les Stewart says:


    I have taken a look at it. Either 100% House or 100% Field negro. Yes, very sincere.

    Dr. King said: Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

    Technology or information sharing alone does nothing to right an imbalance of power. Technology as a means of opening wallets…well, now we’re talking, said the con man to his associate, the shill.

    Power only retreats in the face of greater power and real power cannot be delegated to advisors. It arises under the cloak of night when the fat and stupid are asleep.

    You do not negotiate with terrorists. They trade in, understand and respond only one thing: fear of loss (face, bonus, job, career, etc.).

    Power is never given or shared; it is only taken. Realists know this fact; poseurs and con men say this is not so.



  3. Don’t think they are negotiating, Les.

    The point of the website appears to be to highlight Bond’s incompetence.


  4. Les Stewart says:


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

    Peoples’ emotions have been used, like, forever to relieve them of the heavy burden of excess cash.



  5. This association is telling, with objective data, new prospects not to buy into this franchise system.

    Pretty gutsy move.


  6. Carol Cross says:

    I agree! This is a pretty gutsy move on the part of the franchisees. They speak their truth with facts and “objective data” as Michael Webster indicates.

    They are fighting for survival and, again, the franchise contracts are written to keep the franchisees divided and compliant, and to permit the franchisors to ignore any requests for collective bargaining from their franchisees who have put so much at risk to wear this brand name.

    The franchisors use the Internet to their advantage. They use their SBA Franchise Registry Status and their government FDD’s to imply legitimacy and value to the buying public.

    Why shoudn’t the franchisees be able to use the Internet to tell their side of the story? But, I’m sure that the “powers that be” will look for ways to shut this Site down because if this catches on, why wouldn’t all IFA’s use their Internet Sites to air their grievances with their franchisor in sunshine, instead of bargaining in the darkness of arbitration, where the franchisor holds all of the aces?

    What is the AAFD’s position on this matter? Are we going to see more of this?


  7. Les Stewart says:


    Ineffective at best (thereby casting impotence on a new IndFA: House Negro) and moronic at the worst.

    Wake me up when 80% have abandoned their investments and stopped posing.



  8. Les Stewart says:


    Simply chumming the waters until a White Knight litigator leads them to their just reward. Franchisor responds with libel: everyone lawyers up: the Fat Lady sings.

    Stupidity ain’t noble: It’s just stupid.


  9. We will see, but where is the defamation for recommending a no buy? Ryan’s Franchise Pundit would have been sued out of existence had such a cause of action existed.


  10. How about – everyone goes independent with their own network, and no non competes?


  11. Carol Cross says:

    And, if an IFA Website, like the TOC, is a legal entity that posts only objective data concerning the performance of the franchisees, biographies of franchisors, testimonials, and other educational material, isn’t this their right under the law. as small business owners.

    Libel and defamation are about posting untruths that might economically disadvantage a party, but surely the law will protect those who post the truth to educate those who share the same relationship with the franchisor, and those new buyers who might join the relationship. The economic disadvantage of the franchisee is also a concern for the law, is it not?

    It would appear that the truth should be the moderator.


  12. Carol Cross says:

    But! Is there a conflict of interest for the AAFD to sponsor or help the Independent Franchisee Association to launch a website that would contain “objective” data that belongs to the franchisees —-that, if posted, would slow the sale of new franchises if the objective data reflected low unit profitability and high failure rates and turnover, etc..

    How would franchisors stop the “no buy” notices coming from the franchisees themselves? How would they close these websites down? So often, an increase in the units in the systems doesn’t mean an increase in profits for the individual unit owners, does it? And, those consumers who are the customers of the franchises will not be reading and posting on these websites. This information, in reality, will only hurt the franchisor.

    Would franchisors and the special interests then write contracts or change the law to make it impossible for the franchisees to release their unit performance statistics on the Internet in a Co-op Website that is legally owned and controlled by the Franchisee Association and Coop? What about the franchisor who has an AAFD approved contract but the franchisor has a lousy concept that doesn’t deliver profits for the franchisees?

    Again, can the AAFD serve two masters, or as you say, Les, will tthe “house negro” always compromise to retain his favored position and advantages within the status quo?


  13. Les Stewart says:

    Carol, I’m having a hard time trying to respond to your posting. It’s too broad but I’ll try.

    Please stop saying you agree with me and then go on to make a conclusion that I did not make. I am quite capable of expressing my own thoughts.

    Everyone should treat everyone honestly, okay? Anyone (franchisees, too!) who chooses to misrepresent a business deserves to be punished. As for the AAFD, all I can say is that I have been working for the last 10 years to try to share information.

    Bob Purvin talked to me once when he wanted to create a Canadian version of the AAFD. Since then, I’ve had no need to contact him and have met my own objectives quite nicely, thank you.

    I distrust any organization that is either too stupid or insincere to think that their “Good Housekeeping Seal” awards, meetings, etc. would NOT be used to defraud new investors as our friend Dale Nabors did. How Bob can write his book and then feign incredulous, is beyond my understanding.



  14. Les writes: “I distrust any organization that is either too stupid or insincere to think that their “Good Housekeeping Seal” awards, meetings, etc. would NOT be used to defraud new investors as our friend Dale Nabors did. How Bob can write his book and then feign incredulous, is beyond my understanding.”

    Please vote me in as another incredulous!

    Bob’s book, Franchise Fraud, was my sounding post.

    How we, the AAFD, can now subscribe to a business model which may encourage franchise fraud is just crazy!

    I have been active against the accreditation model. And so far, failing to convince anyone.


  15. Carol Cross says:

    Isn’t the AAFD award to Curves as “Franchisor of the Year” another case of compromising principle for economic reasons? It appears that many Curves owners are failing or trying to sell their businesses, as indicated on the Unhappy Franchisee Site.

    Won’t the award given by the AAFD to Curves help Curves to induce more prospects to buy NEW franchises. as well as the second-hand units that are on the market. Won’t this AWARD also help Curves in the Courts where they are being sued by “unhappy franchisees?” It appears that Curves got their money’s worth from their association with the AAFD.

    Obviously, the AAFD didn’t do any due diliogence on Cuppy’s or Curves in terms of the investment value for prospective franchisees.

    It appears that the “INDUCEMENT CONCERNS” as expressed in the paper “Frasnchising Fraud: the continuing need for reform, 01 Jan 03 (Internet Publication June 08) by the American Business Law Journal
    will continue to be swept under the rug and not addressed by independent franchisee associations or trade associations who find no value in warning prospective franchisees, and who really cannot help the standing franchisees in any substantial way if they have signed the binding contracts that are upheld by the courts.

    If the organized associations won’t put pressure on the government and The Congress to do something about regulation that now encourages fraud, how can individuals contribute to any real change?

    Thankfully, there are a few men “for all seasons” who are trying!


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