Acceptance: Are the bad old days of franchising over?

July 30, 2009

KublerRossI don’t know.

But there are grounds for real hope.

In the last 20 years or so, franchisees have been treated with an increasingly heavy hand:

  • communication between them is really discouraged,
  • informal leaders are penalized severely,
  • threats replaced any pretense of partnership and
  • most franchise lawyers treated ongoing franchisee-led groups with disinterest.

In short, many franchisees were bullied once they signed up.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross defined stages in grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

  • I think I’ve experienced and watched, up close, as a $100-billion Canadian franchise industry has gone through these stages.
  • Information flows have opened things up tremendously with the the new social technologies. Impossible to do, even 5 years ago (digital, decentralized,  real-time surveillance and digital archiving via Twitter and, YouTube state-of-the-union addresses, anonymous if needed).

They’re not complete and there are dinosaur franchisors out there. But there is something different in the air.

If I were a franchisee these days, I would definitely talk to a competent industry business “coach” and join with peers to constructively work away at improving your core business. Don’t be small time cheap: think of 1/2 of your net worth going once you blow-off your current life partner. (perspective is everything)

Yes there are problems: but deal first with the 95% of the business concerns that have zero to do with what your franchisor does or fails to do.

The form I suggest that is most appropriate is an Attorneyless Franchisee Network, AFN.

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