Franchising is as healthy as its secrets.
Confidentiality agreements are used promiscuously:
- pre-sale (when looking),
- at any cash payment for “wrongs” during the relationship,
- at renewal,
- at listing of business for sale,
- when you exit, and
- at any lawsuit end.
In my 15 minutes of fame, I was asked a question:
[John O’Toole] Can you suggest one thing within the framework we’ve defined that would improve – not totally correct; we’ve passed that, we’re not astronauts – but one thing we could do that would make a real impact on these 40,000 victims, self-imposed victims in some cases? What could we do?
Mr Stewart: Outlaw gag orders. Outlaw gag orders.
Confidentiality agreements encourage opportunistic franchisor behavior because they conceal bad behavior to unsuspecting current and future financial market investors. They are a very large source of imperfect investment information.
Silence puts gold in only the pockets of those proposing these “agreements” that are tethered to the franchisee’s life savings.
More corrosively, they operate internally the same way a false prisoner confession works.
Psychologically they create an internal silencing mechanism, part of which is explained by the concepts of cognitive dissonance, learned helplessness, and obedience (Milgram, Stanford prison, Abu Ghraib). The experience of franchising can be engineered to provide a subtle and not so subtle method of mind control as was seen in the ’70s case of est.
The victim becomes convinced that they were the cause of their own suffering.