(false) Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

September 16, 2010

Is preying on a military  family’s post-service vulnerability the sign of insincerity per se?

From a New York Times classified ad:

Come join a network that has pioneered and led the industry for 30 years. The UPS Store is the #1 Business and Postal Services Franchise for the 20th consecutive year (2010 Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 500 Franchise List). The UPS Store is the #1 most popular franchise with veterans in the IFA’s Vet-Fran Program (2008 International Franchise Association). With over 4300 The UPS Store and Mail Boxes Etc. locations nationwide, our network continues to lead the market.

Baiting the Fish: Note how Cialdini’s “Weapons of Influence” are used to lure pensions and life savings capital:

  1. New York Times (authority of a traditional media outlet),
  2. Entrepreneur magazines’ Top 500 franchises (McMedia: authority for the unskilled and unaware),
  3. 30 years… (franchisor success means individual franchisees will succeed, see Dunning-Kruger above),
  4. Vet-Fran program (liking: acceptance, a member of the fraternity, endorsed/vetted by the “government”),
  5. International Franchise Association (expertise/authority, funded 100% by franchisors and their friends), and are especially
  6. vulnerable to the authority siren song from 2 directions: vivid, personal success born from supporting a strict command-control structure  while lacking the airy-fairy concept of discerning legitimate from illegitimate sources of authority.

Vets believe very strongly that people get what they deserve in this life (Just World fallacy) and would, therefore, strongly but heavily discount any non-authority based advice on a pre-sale basis. Going on “civvy street” is one of  life’s major transitions involving new/strange: work, employer, location, one/two incomes, schools, income levels, physical/mental challenges, diminished family/friend support.

Setting the Hook: The next marketing stage is an “exclusive” invitation to a very sophisticated, one-day seminar at head office (a “discovery day”). Just like in a gambling casino, these environments are very, very well thought-out, for one side’s benefit only. A real investigative journalist (John Lorinc) published an excellent description of this circus in a real media outlet (The Globe and Mail) in 2000. The Sure Thing describes the extremely effective individual and social psychology that allows predatory franchising to flourish in plain sight.

I’m glad to know great spirits like Peter Thomas or Carol Cross who, by making wise choices for their future, help me make mine.

Samuel Johnson 1709 – 1784

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UPS franchisee slain in Toronto, Canada

February 25, 2009

upsstoreThe Globe and Mail and Timothy Appleby reported yesterday on the death of a 36-year-old, newly married businessman who had recently purchased a UPS store.

Whoever killed George Koutroubis ensured the Toronto businessman’s demise was painful and thorough: A source familiar with Peel Region’s third homicide investigation of the year said Mr. Koutroubis was “beaten almost beyond recognition.”

No suspects have been identified and no arrest warrants issued. Complicating the investigation is the fact that the recently married Mr. Koutroubis, a graduate in business studies, had no known criminal history.

The article ‘Beaten almost beyond recognition’ [.pdf] continues:

But a theory police have been exploring from the outset is that along with business interests encompassing part-time ownership of an elegant downtown restaurant, a United Parcel Service franchise and several rental properties, Mr. Koutroubis worked as a bookie, expediting sports bets.

Insp. English declined to say if gambling played a role in his death.

“At this stage, I am not prepared to comment on that aspect,” he said.

My best wishes go out to the Koutroubis family and friends.


MBE, The UPS Store executive behind bars

February 24, 2009

I started looking closely into franchising in 1998.

One of my first big system investigations was Mail Boxes Etc., MBE. Since then, that system has morphed into The UPS Store brand and can be followed on Blue MauMau’s thread called The UPS Store, Tales of Gore.

The photograph above is of the president of MBE Canada Michael Martino. He was chairman of the Canadian Franchise Association, CFA and spoke at the International Franchise Association’s, IFA 46th annual convention in 2006.

In December 1998, Martino appeared as a part of an article by John Lorinc in Canada’s monthly national business magazine (The Report on Business). Lorinc, an award-winning  journalist, wrote a very interesting 1995 book called OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: The Truth About Canada’s Franchise Industry which is still available on used book websites. I recommend picking it up.

The accompanying article was called The Sure Thing: Peter Thomas thought he’d bought into a can’t-miss franchise. That was $170,000 ago.

Here is a pdf of the article, courtesy of my Information Sharing Project archive.

Doug Forster took the photograph. We both agreed that franchise executives, as a general rule, should not allow themselves to be posed behind bars.

  • Especially when you read the contents of the article.

Peter and I were sitting beside each other in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario when our first franchise law was passed in 2000.

I sometimes wonder what happened to Peter and to Mr. Martino over the last 10 years.

Anyone know?

UPDATE: A direct link to Lorinc’s article is now available on WikiFranchise.org. I’ve also lost touch with Peter since the Ontario franchise law was passed. Hope he is well.


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