Franchising as a dying Totalitarian State

July 22, 2008

Václav Havel is a Czech writer and politician.

I have played many roles within franchising. My overall approach is similar to Havel’s description of a dissident.

Definition: a person who actively challenges an established doctrine, policy, or institution.

The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public, he offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own skin — and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost.

Franchising treats its opponents in a very harsh manner. I doubt if my notoriously short attention span could have been maintained if it weren’t for the shrill reaction of the industry’s leaders.

As always, those that challenge you are your best motivators and instructors.

You do not become a “dissident” just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.

I believe we are very close to the end of Mom-and-Pop franchising.

The elite were the only ones using the industry’s specialized terms, words and language. Now every amateur observer is taking over the discussion. You can hear the professionals moan about their sudden loss of authority and deference over at Blue MauMau.

The degree of impertinence and questioning of the status quo regarding churning, integration clauses, FDDs, gag orders, FTC, etc. is a sure sign franchising’s Berlin Wall is crumbling.

When the internal crisis of the totalitarian system grows so deep that it becomes clear to everyone, and when more and more people learn to speak their own language and reject the hollow, mendacious language of the powers that be, it means that freedom is remarkably close, if not directly within reach.

The Information Sharing Project translates the mind-numbing, legal mumbo-jumbo “FranchiseSpeak” into common English usage. It speaks in the language of the investor, not the apologist lawyer.

It will, in fact, replace some of the functions of the franchise bar. It is a part of what will become a franchising expert system. This will assist in breaking the current economic monopoly on information and developing a common experience shared by the non-elite.

I collect franchise documents in much the same way as Charles Darwin collected beetles. Once you have them, you look for similarities and differences: you create a taxonomy which is the practice and science of classification.

A franchise industry taxonomy and expert system makes investor risk assessment more accurate.

Stripped of its propaganda and confusion, franchising is very similar to a Soviet Union gulag.

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