Quotes regarding Les Stewart
I highly recommend Les Stewart as a consultant! If I had found Les much earlier in my family’s hard and painful experience with a famous brand-name franchisor, we would have had the knowledge and the truth upon which to make better decisions for ourselves. As it was, he was my teacher who guided my personal research of the “beast of franchising!”
Individual franchisees and franchisee organizations have to face the realities of the franchise model of doing business and the contracts they have signed that will be upheld by the courts. They need to know what is possible and what is impossible in order to improve their positions. Les understands what is possible and because he isn’t an attorney, he won’t lead franchisees down the expensive dead-end path of litigation that is almost always the second victimizatiion of franchisees.
Carol Cross, FranchiseFool comment, September 11, 2010
All franchisors and franchisees are expendable dupes in an economic charade but there are many franchisors that make a lot of money off franchisee misery.
Sane, knowing people excluded from self interest cannot argue against Les Stewart screaming ‘just don’t’.
Ray Borradale, Just don’t, August 27, 2010
If only ALL prospective franchisees were aware of sites like Franchise Fool and Michael Webster’s Misleading Advertising Law, and Franchise Pick and Blue Mau Mau. If only YOU could reach all prospects out there today.
Carol Cross, Time trumps all franchise Fraud, January 28, 2009
Franchisors who talk about profits are often talking only about their profits. As Les Stewart and others indicate, franchising is not a good investment vehicle for profits for the franchisee ——most franchisees invest their own money and their own time to make a living —–to buy a job! Let’s be honest about this. If you read Franchise Fool, you will get a better perspective on the realities of the franchisor-franchisee relationship. Les Stewart doesn’t pull his punches! If you are investing in a franchise to buy a job, you may be investing in a nightmare —-a low paying job with no benefits and no future and a business with little or no trade-in value.
Guest, Blue MauMau, January 1, 2007
I also want to give praise to Mr Les Stewart for his dedication to improving the plight of franchisees. He’s been faxing and e-mailing me non-stop for the last two years or so on this issue. He’s been very helpful and I think he’s helped to bring forward this legislation which is needed.
We also presented, during the hearings, two huge documents that the Canadian Alliance of Franchise Operators and Les Stewart put together that documented the stories of some 4,600-plus families in this province over the last five to seven years that have been damaged in franchise relationships that have gone sour.
…to protect the investment of people like Peter Thomas, I brought before the House Mr Les Stewart, somebody who was directed to me because word was out there now across the province that I had an interest in franchising and was working on trying to get some legislation in place and would take the time to listen and try to develop some strategy around their particular story, but build that into the bigger agenda here, which was to get what we’re talking about here today, legislation in place in Ontario.
What to say about Les Stewart? Every story of a nature that is evolutionary and building on that which is common among us in terms of what we want for each other is always championed by a small number of people, and in many instances by one person. I have to tell you, it was the support, the encouragement, the candidness and the very hard work of Les Stewart, in many ways, that has us here today in this House discussing this legislation. I have nothing but thanks and good feelings regarding Mr Stewart where this is concerned, because he was a victim himself of a franchise operation that he looked at. Mr Stewart was an MBA from Western. He did the due diligence, bought the goods, thought that this looked like a good plan. He couldn’t find any holes in it until he actually got down the road a little ways and began to realize that the projections that were in the document à la how much money he could expect to make weren’t panning out and that he was going further and further in the hole as each year went by.
Mr Stewart, who was a Nutrilawn franchisee, lost some $130,000 in his first two years, achieved less than 25% of the projected sales revenue. Trust me, Mr Stewart is no slouch. I don’t know when Mr Stewart sleeps, I have to tell you, because I know that whenever I try to get hold of him, he’s working, doing something, trying to do that which is required to put bread on the table and pay the rent and live a dignified life. But even with all that work and all that effort, he achieved less than 25% of projected sales revenue and watched 17 of 24 Ontario markets change ownership in that system in four and a half years.
He went on to found the Canadian Alliance of Franchise Operators, an organization that has been helpful to me as I’ve worked to try and bring some understanding and some commitment to this on the part of the government and others out there who might have an interest in this whole franchising industry.
His trial record was closely watched by the franchise industry and his story was written up in the Toronto Star.
It was after Mr Stewart came to me, and we talked about his particular story and we looked at what he would need in order to get some resolution to this difficulty, that I tabled my legislation for the second time in this place. Then, to give the government of the day some credit, they finally tabled some legislation. Minister Tsubouchi at that particular time put on the table a package similar to Bill 33. In my view, it wasn’t good legislation, but nevertheless for the first time in 30 years in Ontario something was on the table that we could take a look at and perhaps build on and make something out of. It was a compromise arrived at by people from the working group, primarily franchisors or franchisor-friendly lawyers. The franchisees in the group were, for the most part, successful, continuing to operate systems out there and, of course, very much aware on which side of their bread the butter was located.
Chair, may I just make one comment, now that we have formally completed the work? I would like to say, in a sort of flippant way, that I’m just as glad Mr. Martin didn’t call it the Les Stewart bill. I do appreciate all his reports to the committee; I have a whole box full. Thanks very much to Les.
I’d like to recognize the co-operation, goodwill and efforts on everyone’s part to this point, with special mention of course of MPP Tony Martin and his assistant, Les Stewart. I thought he was a paid staff member at some point but I later found out he wasn’t, but I’m still not convinced.
Mr Tony Martin: I come to this piece of work not so much by choice as by having been invited in by a number of franchisees in my own community who were being hammered by a new corporation that took over their old franchisor and was just taking their livelihoods away from them. That can be a horror story that we all take advantage of and blow around in the press. Sometimes that’s the only option we have to get redress, because a lot of these folks can’t afford the legal fees required to fight the bigger companies. I suggest to you that Mr Stewart is on this issue not by choice either but by the circumstance of having been a victim himself, and then because of that and his courage to go public with his story, others phone him and ask for help and advice. Neither of us can sleep at night sometimes for thinking about the families we’ve heard from over the last three days during these hearings and that we will continue to hear from because we’re seen as people who are interested, who care and want to do something. Are you suggesting that we leave those people simply twisting in the wind?
It was really important that we get out there and share with the province the concerns that were raised. Brought to the committee during those hearings were not only the stories of the people who came forward, but a raft of research that was done by the Canadian Alliance of Franchise Operators and one Les Stewart to compile two huge volumes of information that he gleaned from the media, stories that have been written over a period of five to 10 years about franchisees who got into some difficulty with their franchisors, sometimes relating how it turned out and sometimes simply relating the circumstances surrounding those stories. It reflected the very difficult stories of a significant number of families in this province who have been very negatively affected by getting into franchising arrangements to protect their future and investment or to do something with a severance package they may have received.
I also want to personally thank Mr. Martin for going to a heck of a lot of work. I would say that one of the presenters, Mr Stewart, went to a lot of trouble. I thought he was a member of your personal staff, because he was supplying a lot of written documentation and material for the committee.
For me, personally, Les Stewart, who perhaps to some may present as somewhat obsessed with this issue, but because of his own personal experience and the fact that he put his shingle out there, a lot of people call him when they find themselves in difficulty in franchising and share their stories with him–being the person he is, very conscientious and of great integrity, Les cannot just let it lie, let it sit and not deal with it and bring it someplace where perhaps something could be done with it. He has probably contacted all of you at least a million times and certainly has worked very actively with me to make sure I had everything I needed to make the case here for some things to happen.
Mr Dillon: First of all, let me say that I’ve a great deal of respect for Mr Stewart. I know something of his situation, although I have no first-hand knowledge. With respect to one of the evils that this legislation is intended to redress–namely, disclosure–I frankly am not sure that you could have ever improved on Mr Stewart’s due diligence. You’ve got a person of exceptional intelligence, exceptional background, with an MBA, who contacted I think 20 out of 22 existing franchisees, prepared pro forma information etc. The courts have reviewed and found against Mr Stewart. I just don’t know what else could have been done to prevent Mr Stewart’s unfortunate situation. that’s point number one.
Dr. Gillian K. Hadfield (right), Expert Witness Testimony, Public Hearings that lead up to the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), 2000, Ottawa, ON, March 8, 2000 (Photo taken with Mr. Tony Martin, MPP, Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Toronto, ON, Spring 2000)
So we had to go to the press and in fact some of you may be aware of an organization called the Canadian Alliance of Franchise Operators and Les Stewart, who was himself a victim of a system and continues to be one of the most effective advocates that I’ve come across in my dealings in this area. He and I have put together a couple of documents, two of them, an A and a B here, that I’m going to be sharing with all of you. This is a compilation of the stories that have appeared in the media over the last five to seven years in Ontario. It’s massive and if you look at the front pages of both documents, there are some interesting trends as to the ups and downs in the business.
Mr Martin: …I have brought before this House over the last three years example after example of families and individuals totally devastated by unscrupulous franchisers. I had Loeb franchisees in here; I had Mary Carlucci and National Grocers in here; I had Les Stewart from Nutrilawn in here; and today I have in the gallery Mr Peter Thomas, who has now lost $170,000 at the hands of Mail Boxes Etc.
How long does this need to go on? How many more families and small businesses and entrepreneurs in this province need to be hammered before your government will table legislation to regulate this industry?
He’s [Stewart] a disgruntled franchisee getting some press…
Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): That response is typical of the responses I’ve been getting over the last two years.
Tomorrow this minister is expected to make an appearance at the huge franchise show here in Toronto. This will be a great occasion for him to change his mind and tell the big franchise operators that Ontario is no longer going to be a happy hunting ground for them.
Terry and Les Stewart from Nutrilawn were in the House last week. They laid a complaint before the franchise association, on your suggestion that the franchise industry should regulate itself. Three days later, they had their loan called by Nutrilawn.
New Canadians and immigrant families are one group of entrepreneurs particularly affected by this. Tomorrow, you meet with the franchisors. Will you tell them that you’re going to regulate?