Self-fulfilling prophecy: Franchisees are a skittish, easily spooked & dull beast-of-burden

March 2, 2010

Common observations about women a few decades ago.

Franchisors often make the same ignorant assumptions about franchisees.

If the words “Jews”, “blacks”, “indigenous peoples” were switched with franchisee, this rhetoric would be seen for what it is: hate mongering toward an identifiable, at-risk population.

Self-fulfilling prophecies are the primary barrier in modern franchising.

Self -fulfilling prophecy:

a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior. Although examples of such prophecies can be found in literature as far back as ancient Greece and ancient India, it is 20th-century sociologist Robert K. Merton who is credited with coining the expression “self-fulfilling prophecy” and formalizing its structure and consequences.

As I observe franchisors closely, it is breathtakingly apparent that they haven’t cracked a management or social science textbook in 40 years.

Franchisors can’t see the solution because they don’t get the fucking problem.

Their paternalism blinds them to the reality that franchisees’ want: 1% to do with $ and 99 per cent acknowledgement that families have a right to a decent level of material security.

Hint: It’s about freedom, missy.

Freedom from your over-reaching which causes financial ruin.

Debt creates slaves and slaves are indeed revolting. In ways that you will cause from your willful adherence to an authoritarian ideology.

Why do more franchise laws leads to => investment failure rate?

December 10, 2009

Simply put: Risk compensation.

People adjust their behaviour when they feel they are in a “safer” environment. They take more chances.

Over time and when studied as groups, the “accident” rate stays constant, if not increases.

This concept has been proven with anti-lock brakes, bicycle and downhill ski helmets, seat belts and sky diving. Source

Winter Driving: Strap on those winter tires, put the flares and blankets in the trunk and clean the windows at the 1st snowfall. Congratulations: You will unintentionally drive just as fast, follow just as closely and brake just as late  (when compared to good road conditions) than if you were “unprepared”.

Paradoxically, the more and better pre-sale due diligence you do, this increases your risk of financial failure.

Blaming individuals doesn’t work. This is a very complex field of psychology and risk compensation is just one factor. Mercifully, these human factors are getting much more understood, proven and manageable.

The challenge in the future will be to design an investment evaluation regime that “nudges” people into legitimate franchised business opportunity “vehicles”.

Without this innovation, the carnage will continue at the same rate.

Or get worse.

Paul Newman on common human charity

December 3, 2009

A man with no enemies is a man with no character.I’d like to be remembered as a guy who tried — tried to be part of his times, tried to help people communicate with one another, tried to find some decency in his own life, tried to extend himself as a human being. Someone who isn’t complacent, who doesn’t cop out.

I am confounded at the stinginess of some institutions and some people. I’m bewildered by it. You can only put away so much stuff in your closet. In 1987, the average CEO against someone who was working in his factory was 70 times. It’s now 410 times.

Paul Newman, 1925 – 2008

On his love for food.

When I realized I was going to have to be a whore, to put my face on the label, I decided that the only way I could do it was to give away all the money we make. Over the years, that ethical stance has given us a 30 per cent boost. One in three customers buys my products because all the profits go to good causes and the rest buy the stuff because it is good.

The embarrassing thing is that my salad dressing is out-grossing my films.

It’s all been a bad joke that just ran out of control. I got into food for fun but the business got a mind of its own. Now — my good Lord — look where it has gotten me. My products are on supermarket shelves, in cinemas, in the theater. And they say show business is odd.

Over $280 million has been generated for charity since 1982.

Newman’s Own

Charity to your franchisor: Had enough yet?

November 20, 2009

Almost all franchisees I have met are very generous individuals that know they rely on humans for thier success.

But  everyone’s got their limits and no one wants to be played for a fool.

When the franchisor volunteers them too much, they tend to get a little lippy.

They remember how a few years back they were treated with respect, could expect to be treated fairly and could trust their business partners.

Nowadays, it just seems that it’s all one way.

Someone made the observation that their franchisor wanted to as their advisory council members to spend +20 hours of their time (for free) in reviewing the latest version of their operations manual.

I suggested that every one is free to support whatever charity they want but the Salvation Army was looking for volunteers this Christmas season to man their kettles.

Some hands are extended in gratitude in the true spirit of charity. Others are not.

Faith, hope and charity are basic human characteristics that form an important level of trust in our society. Without basic trust, the wheels of industry would grind to a halt.

Some franchisors think they’re not in the human values business.

They’ll learn.

Confidentiality in Franchisng: You can’t tell your spouse what your sales were today.

September 14, 2009

HousewifeHow stupid it that?

If your partner is not listed as a franchisee, you cannot tell him or her anything about your business.

Look it up in your agreeement.

You signed to say that everything you do or say during the franchise agreement is only to be shared (on a need-to-know basis) with the franchisor.

Nobody else.

Not even your wife.

So how was your day, dear?

Sorry. I’m a franchisee, so I cannot tell you.

Mind Control as a function within franchising? Not as far-fetched as you’d think.

July 29, 2009


People often underestimate how much they can be influenced by their situation in life.

Margaret Singer was an American psychologist.

In her 1995 book Cults in our Midst, she outlined 6 conditions that create the environment where thought control is possible.

Prerequisites found in cult-like organizations:

  1. Keep the person unaware of what is going on and how attempts to psychologically condition him or her are directed in a step-by-step manner.
  2. Control the person’s social and/or physical environment; especially control the person’s time.
  3. Systematically create a sense of powerlessness in the person.
  4. Manipulate a system of rewards, punishments and experiences in such a way as to inhibit behavior that reflects the person’s former social identity.
  5. The group manipulates a system of rewards, punishments, and experiences in order to promote learning the group’s ideology or belief system and group-approved behaviors.
  6. Put forth a closed system of logic and an authoritarian structure that permits no feedback and refuses to be modified except by leadership approval or executive order.

Of the franchisees in the crowd, mostly in hindsight, How many of these conditions were present during the pre-sale, operation and ending of your business?

There are religious cults but Singer suggests that “cultic relationships” can exist in any type of organization. I have seen these types of behaviours in some franchises.

This 6:22 minute video is a good introduction to Singer’s work.

Strength in Numbers: What franchisees fail to perceive

July 20, 2009

StrengthsinNumbersAll franchisees together are much stronger than any franchisor.

  • All franchisors know this fact.
  • Almost no franchisee realizes this.

It does not require all or even a large majority of franchisees to act as if they were dominant.

It takes smarts, planning and discipline, though but that is within the reach of many franchise systems — right now.

Pitting one Franchisee against the Other: Beggar thy Neighbour policy

July 14, 2009

UniteorDieRichard Solomon makes a very good point over at Blue MauMau in his posting by asking this question:

If I can pit you against your brother, you and your brother will not unite against me.

Richard concludes, speaking directly to franchisees:

Sound familiar?

Franchisors win when franchisees fail to unite.

Groupthink: Dangers in too much goodness

April 21, 2009

groupthinkToo much of anything should be avoided. Nature always prefers diversity to a monoculture.

Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.

Carl G. Jung

In organizations, there is a tendency for similarly-minded people to be attracted to and prosper within a certain environment. Predators do well in a predatory climate, generous people in charities, caring people in caring professions, etc.

There is a danger, however, that can manifest and it is called Groupthink:

…a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas.

Individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking are lost in the pursuit of group cohesiveness, as are the advantages of reasonable balance in choice and thought that might normally be obtained by making decisions as a group.

During groupthink, members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking.

A variety of motives for this may exist such as a desire to avoid being seen as foolish, or a desire to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group. Groupthink may cause groups to make hasty, irrational decisions, where individual doubts are set aside, for fear of upsetting the group’s balance. The term is frequently used pejoratively, with hindsight. Wikipedia

In my experience, the more well-meaning an organization is (staffed with highly intelligent, self-sacrificing and motivated altruistic individuals) the greater the danger seems to be.

Paradoxically, the most successful groups are at the higher risk they are at. Their very success creates a blind spot as they drift toward excluding the “other”.

The Fisher King legend speaks to this human condition (strength and weakness):

  • an innocent outsider responds with simple compassion to a basic human need (thirst).
  • That which is sought is finally seen, unleashing powers to heal an, to that point, unhealable wound.

In the hyper, hyper, hyper world of instant communication and 100% intolerance for any imperfection, the standards of human performance are set way too high. It is not any individual’s “fault”: it’s just the way groups can go if a tolerance for difference (and even dissent) is not tolerated.

Sometimes well-meaning different perspectives are misinterpreted as threats and dealt with in several ways. Some of these may include: ad hominem attacks, shunning, and scapegoating. A type of dehumanization can even occur.

Sometimes pushing the problem onto someone else’s back is an effective organizational solution. See the classic HBR article Who’s Got the Monkey? by Oncken & Wass.

It symbolized hope when freedom was almost an impossible dream

January 14, 2009

kingmartinIt is a deep personal privilege to address a nation-wide Canadian audience. Over and above any kinship of U.S. citizens and Canadians as North Americans there is a singular historical relationship between American Negroes and Canadians.

Canada is not merely a neighbour to Negroes. Deep in our history of struggle for freedom Canada was the North Star. The Negro slave, denied education, de-humanized, imprisoned on cruel plantations, knew that far to the north a land existed where a fugitive slave, if he survived the horrors of the journey, could find freedom. The legendary underground railroad started in the south and ended in Canada. The freedom road links us together. Our spirituals, now so widely admired around the world, were often codes. We sang of “heaven” that awaited us, and the slave masters listened in innocence, not realizing that we were not speaking of the hereafter. Heaven was the word for Canada and the Negro sang of the hope that his escape on the underground railroad would carry him there. One of our spirituals, “Follow the Drinking Gourd“, [decoded] in its disguised lyrics contained directions for escape. The gourd was the big dipper, and the North Star to which its handle pointed gave the celestial map that directed the flight to the Canadian border.

So standing to-day in Canada I am linked with the history of my people and its unity with your past.

The underground railroad could not bring freedom to many Negroes. Heroic though it was, even the most careful research cannot reveal how many thousands it liberated. Yet it did something far greater. It symbolized hope when freedom was almost an impossible dream. Our spirit never died though the weight of centuries was a crushing burden.

Today when progress has abruptly stalled and hope withers under bitter backlashing, Negroes can remember days that were incomparably worse. By ones and twos more than a century ago Negroes groped to freedom, and its attainment by a pitiful few sustained hundreds of thousands as the word spread through the plantations that someone had been reborn far to the north.

Conscience for Change, Martin Luther King, Jr., The Massey Lectures, 1967


I live now in the house I was raised in and Midhurst is about 4 km away from the African Methodist Episcopal Church, on the corner of Line 3 Oro-Medonte Township and Old Barrie Road.

I grew up believing that it was the northern terminus of the underground railroad but I guess that was more local puffery.

Ontario, however, did draw many from the underground railroad.

The black settlement at Oro “was the result of government policy to settle Loyalist black refugees, who may have been escaped slaves, free men, or veterans of the War of 1812”  [County of Simcoe]. Even giving away 2,000 acres of free land could not overcome the God-forsaken swampy or stony soil. The only type of land farming that is successful is for aggregate (sand and gravel pits). The last black descendant packed up and left in 1949.

In 200 the church was designated a National Heritage Site and a 2003 plaque reads:


Built in 1849, this church is the last vestige of one of the oldest African-Canadian settlements in Upper Canada. Here at Oro, former members of the Loyalist militia from the War of 1812 established the only Black community sponsored by the government. Free Blacks from the northern United States later joined them. Located in the heart of a strategic and vulnerable region, the community guarded against an American invasion via Georgian Bay. This church is a testament to the contribution of African Canadians to the settlement and defence of Canada in the 19th century.

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