If you lost your money, Call your franchise banker.

October 27, 2010

Get smart.

Who do you think teaches new franchisors or amateurs like David Scenna (Hookers and Booze: Your tax dollars at work) franchise money management?

D’oh.

Your franchisor is nothing much more than a rodeo clown.

  • The brains behind the outfit are the franchise bankers. Only a fraction of the government loan losses are claimed because accurate reporting would queer the deal. They self-finance the used franchises via compliant equipment appraisers on the front end and their captured bank receivers on the other (exit franchisee into bankruptcy.
  • See 2005 details.
  • Crapola franchises.

Last time I checked, +80% of Canada Small Business Financing program loans were done via these people below. Why not give them a call and ask them for a 10 minute interview?

Bank of Nova Scotia
Mr. John Dykeman
Ms. Irene Thomson
National Franchise Programs
Phone: (877) 252-6088 Toll Free
http://www.scotiabank.com/franchising
franchising@scotiabank.com

BMO Bank of Montreal
Mr. Steve Iskierski
Senior Manager, National Franchising Services
Phone: (416)927-6026 / (877)629-6262
Web: http://www.bmo.com/franchise
steve.iskierski@bmo.com

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, CIBC
Mr. Charles Scrivener
Director & Head, CIBC Packaged Loans Group
Phone: (416) 980-3225
http://www.cibc.com
charles.scrivener@cibc.com

Royal Bank of Canada
Mr. Paul DaSilva
National Franchise Market
Phone: (416) 974-8299
http://www.rbcroyalbank.com/franchise
paul.dasilva@rbc.com

TD Canada Trust
Ms. Irene Law
National Manager, Franchise Banking
Phone: (866) 871-2178 / (416) 307-9270
http://www.tdcanadatrust.com/franchise
irene.law@td.com

Source of contact information

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Trade Show activism: Counterspin the Lies on their Selling Field

February 11, 2009

franchiseshowThis ad appeared in today’s Toronto Star.

Just a few points:

1. Contrary to the heading, you do not “buy” a franchise. You sink cash into this type of business opportunity and hope to achieve a salary and ROI over the life of your license of using the trademark using a promised “proven system”.

2. Small business is always a lot harder than you’d ever think. It takes years to develop the technical, management and decision making skills to be a success. Often the cash burn rate in franchising is so great that you never get to see profitable times: You simply flame out too early.

3. Your first contact with a trademark franchise system should never be at  a trade show. You are at a very big disadvantage at a trade show: they control the atmosphere, appear much more successful than they actually are and give the false sense of being in a group of profitable businesses.

Big Show costing Big Dough: National franchise associations such as the Canadian Franchise Association rely very heavily on the revenue that these shows deliver. These types of shows are ground-zero in the subtle and not-so subtle art of persuading mom and pop investors that the next franchise will make them a millionaire.

In 1998, I showed up with a CBC television crew to the fall CFA show. We handed out pamphlets warning attendees, intercepted the minister as he was exiting from his franchisor rah-rah speech (the last time an Ontario minister showed up, I think) and barged our way into the trade show to get some grip-and-grin footage with thinly smiling salespeople.

  • The CFA and their supporters were not amused.
  • Everyone pays a lot of money to bamboozle the next chump.
  • They certainly don’t need anyone coming to piss on their parade.

Their carefully planned PR news puff piece, was turned inside out: Toronto viewers instead saw a be careful of the predators out there story instead.

I guess it was predictable that Dan Farmer of the Royal Bank of Canada would insist that I never show up at another franchise trade show if I wanted financial support for the Canadian Alliance of Franchise Operators. I kept my word although I never saw $1 from any of the 5 banks that financially underlay all Canadian franchising.

In 1998 we had to convince a television editor to assign a reporter, a videographer, record, edit and then air the results. Tough getting media attention because franchise fraud is pegged as a niche audience item.

A little over 10 years later, someone just needs to:

  1. slip a digital camera in their jacket,
  2. record a few clips,
  3. use free edit software,and
  4. create and post YouTube video (I’ve already reserved a FranchiseFool channel, btw) that shows examples of how franchise salesmen openly lie at a trade show because the franchise agreements that give them a License to Lie, Cheat and Steal (kudos to Blue MauMau) from mom and pop investors.

Royal Bank of Canada puts Fisher through the wall

January 12, 2009

novascotia3Cape Breton Island is a deeply mysterious land.

The closest I’ve ever been was to see St. Francis Xavier University for my daughter 3 years ago. Gary Stewart, my older brother lived and died in 1972 while working for Michelin tire in New Glasgow.

Paul Fraser is a fisherman in Sydney (top right of Nova Scotia, Canada). He was kind enough to comment on one of my posts.

I think Paul’s 1:55 video and website [http://corporatebully.ca] are well worth a look. Consumer boycotts are the cornerstone of resistance.

I encourage Paul to carry on, although I know how difficult it can be. Wrongdoing always means someone talked to someone when they shouldn’t have. Don’t forget rattling the Office of Privacy Commissioner of Canada‘s cage, although the act very much like the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments. If you have the stomach, keep right onto your MP, Minister of Finance and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

Don’t forget the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (each party’s Ministry of Finance MP critic, too).

  • Their job is to listen to citizens and we get the type of government we’re willing to settle for.

No wonder Canada is the laughingstock of western nations when it comes to harbouring white-collar crime:

  • they learn just about all they need to know about dirty dealing from their account manager,
  • no national regulator (kudos to the U.S. for catching and jailing Conrad Black),
  • the laziest, colonial-minded elite in the world and
  • lapdog regulators.

If I had a Royal Bank of Canada account, I would close it. I will be referring to this post because the Royal Bank is very active in franchise lending.

I remember, now that you mention it, how the Royal froze my current account when I, in fact, won an injunction against my franchisor, hands down in my home town. That there was no legal basis for doing so did not phase my regional banker one little bit.

  • I like the look of that car!
  • Much more dissent needs to show up on YouTube.

A franchise or banker dissent channel is absolutely in order!


The Mob: A Working group of Professional Thieves

January 12, 2009

grouppeopleThieves steal to live.

Professionals in thievery and business behave in a very similar manner.

Only a tiny percentage of thieves are recognized and view themselves as being professional: full time, rational and consistent planning.

The most prestigious of theft rackets is The Grift or Con games. The Grift requires cooperation among specialists.

The working group of professional thieves is known as a mob, troop, or outfit. The number of members in a mob is determined in part by the racket which is being hustled, in part by the angles which are being played, and in part by the circumstances and situations…Sometimes a large number of thieves work together in a loose organization in the more elaborate confidence games, using a common pay-off joint or big store (fake gambling club or brokerage office.) p. 27

For any group to function productively, certain rules need to be known and obeyed. This discipline is generally higher than in straight business because of the extralegal nature of some of their work.

The mob has many codes, rules, and understandings, most of which are so general that they apply to the whole profession as well as to a particular mob. p. 35

I understand (from books alone) that they are:

  1. gains are divided equally (although, different for different roles),
  2. all payouts must be paid from the net take (expenses [or nut] first deducted from gross take),
  3. all loans must be repaid from the group’s first fruits (rigidly enforced),
  4. everyone shares in the profit or loss (good or bad),
  5. the fall-dough (shared cash) is used to protect any member of the mob,
  6. each member must deal honestly with each other (burning someone is a almost unthinkable, lying is considered more serious than in straight business),
  7. if someone leaves the mob, he must ask to be taken back (type of social norm or professional consideration),
  8. a member of the mob is not responsible for things outside of his control (appreciation for the role of randomness and luck),
  9. a mob member should not cut in on another member’s area of responsibility (reflects negatively on the competence of the “helped” member), and
  10. it’s “the responsibility of every member of the mob to do everything  possible to fix a case for any member of the mob if the pinch [arrest, exposure] occurred in connection with mob activities.” p. 38

In addition to their specialized skills, a professional thief must have a more general capability called larceny sense.

Larceny Sense: This term is applied to the thief just as the term “business sense” is applied to the business man. It is an ability to deal with unusual situations in the best possible manner and is acquired in the course of experience. Every thief with good larceny sense will try to figure out every eventuality in taking off a touch. Some thieves are considered to have no larceny sense, while others have plenty of it.

Quotations Source: The Professional Thief, Chapter 2: The Mob, The University of Chicago, 1937 [my emphasis]

Franchise marketing, for some systems, has evolved into a specialized, highly secretive applied fraud. Each trademark system has a number of 3 or 4 professionals working to sell and resell franchises that are designed to fail for the investor.

There is no boss per se within the group. Because the work is underground, there is little documentation available.

If there is a boss in the traditional sense, it would be the banker in head office who are within the small business lending division. These Franchise Bankers (one bank per franchise system) work very closely with the franchisor for their direct lending needs as well as setting up extremely lucrative service contracts for their franchisees (current accounts, merchant accounts, etc.).

In 2000, I interviewed Dan Farmer of the Royal Bank of Canada. He stated that franchise lending was “the most lucrative form of commercial lending there is”.

Roles & Functions

  • mark (potential franchisee),
  • sales agent (initial contact with mark, as the outsideman he steers marks to the mob’s preferred trademark; they are sometimes nominally independent, sometimes internal; also-known-as: consultants, franchise brokers),
  • franchisor contact (initially charming, aura of success, kept at arm’s-length until the loan proceeds are advanced and removed from mark’s current account), and
  • lender (specific bank official, specific bank branch: a high-risk, 24-hour turnaround on government guaranteed loans).

In their function as lenders, bank officers owe their borrowers a legal duty to perform lender’s due diligence. They are prohibited by law from creating debt instruments that they knew or should be reasonably be expected to know would be unsustainable or result in the borrower’s financial ruin. In Canada, the relevant statutes are the Bank Act and the Canada Small Business Financing Act and Regulations.

  • Banks and bank officers are not being held accountable because these arrangements, although highly exploitable, provide substantial profits to the franchise bar, franchisors, etc. Canada has a well-known reputation for harbouring white-collar criminals.
  • This, however,  is very, very fertile litigation soil for outside law firms that can know what questions to ask.

That I am a 1/3 partner in only one active lawsuit, speaks not to the rarity of the fraud but to my restraint and patience for the cleanup to happen. In 2005, we had identified over 12 potential lawsuits involving  just one franchise system, bank pairing.

Additional information on Predatory Franchise Lending and my recommendations to stop such abuse, can be found by in a paper I wrote to Industry Canada in 2005 called Franchising Opportunism: Deceit to secrsy confind. [Predatory Lending, IC Feb 2005]


Franchise Bankers are on the Autobahn to Perdition

January 10, 2009

roadtoperdition2

As I promised, more thought-provoking ideas from Saul‘s, The Doubter’s Companion.

BANKERS Pillars of society who are going to hell if there is a God and He has been accurately quoted.

All three Western religions have always forbidden the collection of interest on loans. When Samuel Johnson defined the banker in the eighteenth century his status was clear: “One that trafficks in money.” Their venal sin of usury [excessive interest] continues to sit high on lists of scriptural wrongdoing, which raise the question of why bankers – the money-market sort excluded – tend to be frequent church goers. The respect in which they have increasingly been held over the last two centuries has paralleled the growth of economics based on long-term debt, which spread into every corner of society, from governments and corporations to the poor. The more money owed, the more the lender is respected, so long as the borrower intends to pay it back.

But what effect does this have on the moral position of bank employees? Few modern bankers are owners. Except through their salaries they do not profit from interest payments. Are they or are they not among the damned? Perhaps they should themselves be seen as victims of usury, having little choice but to lend their lives to the usurious process in order to feed their families. Yet for the borrower, these employees are the human face of usury.

The clearest situation for bankers would be if God didn’t exist. They would then be morally home-free and could go to church in a more relaxed frame of mind. See: DEBT.

Margaret Atwood observes lately that Christianity is based primarily on debt: Jesus came and redeemed man, opened the gates of heaven and paid off all past and future debt. The Aramaic words for debt and sin are the same. In the Lord’s Prayer, believers are directed to forgive trespasses (debts, offences) and it appears She does only as much as you forgive others their debts.

  • One of my lawn sprinkler customers retired after 35 years with the Royal Bank of Canada in 2009. She looks 10 years younger in 4 months and attributes it not having to lie to her neighbours anymore about what the bank did to them.

A recurring theme is that debt is a form of death, is life-taking. You make your own hell by losing your soul now, let alone the everlasting damnation bit (perdition). autobahn

The Road to Perdition, 2002 movie with Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Jude Law.


The Apprenticeship of Les Stewart

May 17, 2008

Justice is one of the four Cardinal Virtues.

My research clearly concludes that the last place for franchisee family investors to find justice is via any franchise bar/legal system.

franchising

Background and unique qualifications:

  • Franchise Industry in Ontario (Canada): franchisee families 40,000 (76,000), employees 400,000 to 600,000 (760,000 to 1,140,000), investments $2 to 8 billion ($3.8 to 15.2 billion), and annual sales $45 to 50 billion ($90 billion), Source
  • twice a franchisee (Arjay Painting and Nutri-Lawn, Midhurst, ON),
  • a franchisee’s crew Barrie and 1st assistant manager, Orillia 3254, McDonald’s Canada (B.O.C., Silver Hat, & AAA, 1972-80),
  • general BA, 1983, Western University and MBA, 1987, Ivey Business School, London, ON,
  • Budget analyst, Victoria Hospital, London, Ontario, (acute care regional teaching hospital, 3,500 FTEs, 1988-92),
  • founded the Canadian Alliance of Franchise Operators, CAFO, Canada’s 1st national franchisee association, Midhurst, ON 1998-present,
  • SLAPP 1.0 (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation): sued to silence: Nutri-Lawn‘s then owner, The Franchise Company (FirstService Corporation), represented by David Sterns and John Sotos,
  • SLAPP 2.0 sued for faxing 150 U.S. Tupperware distributors a website invitation and Toronto Star article while representing 7 former CDN Tupperware distributors, (Tupperware Canada Inc.), TupperWarsSLAPP, represented by Brian Macleod Rogers,
  • took my franchised lawn care business independent in 1998 (Lawn Depot),
  • represented myself at an injunction hearing, franchisor unsuccessfully sought to enforce their non-compete clause, Barrie, ON, 1999 (Justice Paul Herminston, Barrie), favourable outcome,
  • 5 day civil trial, (Justice Katherine Swinton, Toronto,  May 1999) and lost $134,000 unfavourable outcome,
  • unpaid policy analyst for Mr. Tony Martin, NDP MPP, Sault Ste. Marie, ON 1998 to 2001 (provincial, federal politician),
  • expert witness at public hearing which lead to Ontario’s first franchise law, Toronto, ON (Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), 2000),
  • created the Information Sharing Project and submitted unsuccessful project proposal to the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Affairs in 2003 (digital teaching, due diligence and business risk assessment tool; early form of WikiFranchise.org),
  • identified and wrote a paper on Predatory Franchise Lending to Industry Canada, 2005 (18 month investigation: bank, consultant, franchisor, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Minister of Finance, RCMP Commercial Crime Unit, OBSI, FCAC, PMO, etc.),
  • case preparation for a +$6-million civil law suit based on predatory lending principles (2005, Oudovikine),
  • Stewart has been featured in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, CBC, PORFIT magazine, Continental Franchise Review, and Wall Street Journal, media contributor, 1997 – present,
  • contributed to the Prince Edward Island, Ontario, West and South Australian franchise inquires,
  • Blue MauMau contributor: 459 posts (since Oct 2007),
  • founded and editor of FranchiseFool.com weblog: 1200 posts, 277,713 views & 777 comments (since Feb 2008, Accessed April 26, 2018),
  • founded and co-editor of WikiFranchise.org: a no-charge wiki that assigns corporate and personal reputations more accurately and durably via indexed already-published articles and documents: 208,821 unique visitors, 331,676 visitors, 1,283,386 pages, 2,229,354 hits and 65.8 GB bandwith (since Feb 2009, same),
  • endorsed Bill 102, An Act to amend the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), September 23, 2010,  Legislative Assembly of Ontario (start @ 1440),
  • attended the International Association of Franchisees and Dealers annual conference, Indianapolis, 2010,
  • pre-trial development of large-scale group and class action legal actions,
  • independent franchisee association: leadership development, creation, training, pre-trial case legal case development (National Bread Network: Maple Leaf Foods/Canada Bread 1,000 CDN Dempster’s franchisees, leader’s blog, case preparation for a +$300-million class action law suit based on good faith, right to associate and mental distress ($50,000 award for one franchisee, 2008-2012),
  • FranchiseGrade.com: The Authority on Franchising, developed data collection methods and hierachy structure and custom reports based on U. S. Franchise Disclosure Documents, FDDs, Les Paul Stewart Consulting: work has been featured in Businessweek, Entrepreneur, Inc., and the Wall Street Journal. 2004 – 2005,
  • Dr. Gillian K. Hadfield: Problematic Relations: Franchising and the Law of Incomplete Contracts, The Price of Law: How the Market for Lawyers Distorts the Justice Systemand
  • LinkedIn

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