YouTube says Franchising is slavery

October 28, 2008

YouTube will become a very effective means of information sharing for franchise investors.

This is the first general franchise message [ie. it’s not this brand or that brand that is acting in a predatory fashion] to hit YouTube. It reflects the reality that all franchise relationships have the same characteristics, the same tools or potential; everywhere, all around the world.

What makes franchising different than independent business is its ability to ransom your life savings. This is done because, at the moment you sign, your investment instantly changes from 100% liquidity to next to zero [transforms into a sunk cost]. You imagine yourself in control but have lost 100% control of your assets.

New franchisees come to realize quite quickly that they go along with the franchisor or they will be punished. Many franchisees kid themselves; hoping upon hope that their masters will allow them to exit by selling to the next sucker. That rarely happens because the franchisor makes more money the less you make at re-sale.

Over years and after signing a confidentiality agreement, investors realize that it was always this way: the moment you signed, 90% of what they put in was always at the franchisor’s absolute use. The sunk cost nature is the source of a franchisor exercising their discretion in a one-sided manner (opportunism).

  • The franchisee’s near total net worth is tied to the whims of a party that has next-to no penalties if they choose to act in a dictatorial manner.

Soon I think we will have a franchising channel with dozens of trademark correspondents bringing back information that is not constrained by government decisions, coerced confidentiality provisions or SLAPPs.

That is very good news for good systems and not so good for opportunistic ones.

  • And this should be applauded by all stakeholders that want to improve quality, in what we perceive to be a free market economy.

Shouldn’t it?

Thanks to the folks at for bringing this out.

Sunk Cost Reality: Post-signing relationship conversation

October 15, 2008

Franchisor to franchisee:

OR: Les the new poo-extraction technology will cost you $100.

EE: So the non-logoed dog poop scoop, in the real world, costs $5.00. Right?

OR: Right.

EE: But I have to buy this propriety equipment from you, right? [tied buying]

OR: Right.

EE: So I end up paying 20 times as much for the scoop, does that sum it up the situation?

OR; Yup.

EE: And if I don’t want to [as any sane independent businessperson would do]…?

OR: I can terminate you and refuse any potential buyers and other nonsense which deprives you of, say, 90% of the $100,000 you’ve sunk into your business. Sound fair, Les?

EE: So my decision is either:

  1. lose $95 by saying yes or
  2. lose $90,000 plus the exit costs by saying no. [Prospect Theory]

Is that a fair comment?

OR: Is that a fair comment, what?

EE: Is that a fair comment…sir?

OR: Yes, Les. You’re coming along.

Sunk costs as they compound business risk are a unique and little discussed aspect of franchising. Law makers are particularly negligent in not putting each post-signing franchisee buying decision in its appropriate context. Franchisees often look stupid in hindsight because sunk costs are not taken into account.

  • Context is everything in the bizarro world of a franchise relationship.

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