Digitally defending volunteer advocates

April 22, 2009

waterdepotI was told recently that I know a lot of people.

I guess I do.

But to Terry and I it’s way more important the quality of our friendships. And we are multi-millionaires in that department…sometimes like having a bucket of ice water thrown on your head: they’re so fantastic.

Technically along the way, I have learned a great deal of the value of meticulous record keeping in defending others and my family.

As a franchisee-only advocate and business consultant, I sometimes have opposed very large corporate entities that have traditionally been used to getting their own way. Tupperware was in excess of $1B in annual sales, I think.

I have learned some very specialized coping skills.

I have always represented franchisees: the 40,ooo Ontario and 76,000 Canadian small business underdogs.  I have done this as an unpaid volunteer in the face of very stiff headwind.

Closer to Home: In 2004, I worked with a Barrie franchisee of the Barrie, Ontario-based  Water Depot system. Specifically I used my knowledge to successfully make the franchisor buy the franchisee out. The franchisee was able to leave without going bankrupt. I don’t know exactly what contributed to its re-organization but I do know who first started talking about forming an independent franchisee association.

Breaking even while exiting with your credit in tact is a huge victory in a predatory business format franchising system.

To accomplish this task, I documented the legal, ethical and repuational challenges of the parties involved. I created an index of documents called a User’s Guide.

You can download a copy of the User’s Guide here.

I consult to individuals and groups and specialize in pre-litigation case preparation. I have developed a non-lawyer’s expertise regarding provincial and federal criminal, banking, civil (especially franchise) law and regulation. But  unlike franchise lawyers who are compensated 95% by franchisors, I only work for franchisees. Or I do landscaping but never both.

How careful and thorough is Les? Very. Since 1998, whenever I have experienced any job going sideways, I start recording the situation in it’s chronology and seek the advice of my long, long time friends. That we have created and had the franchise industry’s first wiki (WikidFranchise.org) shows just how careful I am in recording articles, emails, telephone conversations, etc. in a industry that controls, at times in a predatory fashion, up to 50% of retail sales in Canada ($100B) and the United States ($1T).

Richard Gibson was kind enough to review my social media approach in a recent Wall Street Journal article. I let Bro. Tony Martin, MP (ret. MPP, Sault Ste. Marie) speak to my personal integrity, sense of social justice and commitment to the disadvantaged. I even list Tony as a personal reference occasionally for those clever enough to actually call Madge in the Soo before making and breaching contracts.

This social media thing is a very effective tonic to combat selective memories, feather-bedding, conflict of interests,  and recklessly sloppy implementation of a perfectly transparent, pre-mediated, deeply cynical predatory contracting process.

  • But an honest error should never result in someone losing their job. Especially when she’s being singled-out as a scapegoat.
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Franchisees are revolting, but in a new way this time

April 11, 2009

wolfgrandmaPredatory franchisors and those that continue to profit from their action give the distinct impression that franchisees are a lower form of life. They are:

  1. Slow.
  2. Greedy.
  3. Lazy.

This part-economic, -social and -cultural discrimination performs several very important functions for the elite but most immediately it provides the intellectual grounding for:

…”liberating” franchisees’ life savings by any means possible.

This liberation helps the economy because franchisees’ life savings (by this perspective) are inefficiently husbanded by stupid people. They prove franchisees’ passivity and idiocy every day when they hawk the latest loser business model.

Franchisees deserve what they get because they are a lower form of life.

They have, in modern secular and economic terms, a life unworthy of life (lebensunwertes leben). Everyone in the mob sleeps well because they are simply slaughtering subhumans’ capital heritage for the “common economic good”. The predators are society benefactors: genetic soldiers in the inevitable sacrifice of the weak being trussed-up to feed the strong.

  • This is how the wolf sees himself: improving free enterprise by killing the weak, lame, stupid, slow,  infirm or elderly.

Some, however, are starting to see this Walter Mittyesque view differently. They see modern franchising as a:

bastardization of valid biological natural selection theory mixed in with an infantile parroting of a 4th rate intellectual “stew” of eugenics, laissez-faire dogmatism, propaganda, piracy and mind-numbing self-interest.

Don Sniegowski at Blue MauMau reports today that Over a Thousand Franchisees Demand to See Televised UPS Store Trial.

LOS ANGELES – Against opposition by United Parcel Service, Inc., some 1,400 franchise owners have requested that the Los Angeles Superior Court allow them to see on closed circuit television a class action lawsuit of The UPS Store and Mail Boxes Etc. franchisees going up against their franchisor.

Further down in the comments, the “How-to-Contribute” is helpfully presented.

Before any valid re-ordering, chaos must reign. This seems to be the way it always happens. It starts in the city of angels but that’s not where it will end.

The cowards have always relied on the fixer but from now on, it’s beyond his reach. Memory, witness and narrative seem to have awoken from a form of spell.

upsstore, mailboxesetc, Peter Thomas

It’s over.


3 charged with businessman murder

March 30, 2009

upsstore1As first reported on Feb 25th on FranchiseFool, a Toronto UPS Store was murdered (UPS franchisee slain in Toronto, Canada).

In a March 29th update in  a Toronto Star article by Sunny Freeman named 3 charged in death of businessman. there have been preliminary arrests made in the slaying.

Andrew Campbell, 43, of Whitby, is charged with first-degree murder.

Peel police also charged a woman and a 17-year-old in connection to the slaying.

The story goes on:

The newlywed [George] Koutroubis and his wife, Rhoda, were set to depart on their honeymoon, a one-week Caribbean cruise, days after he went missing.

Koutroubis co-owned Six Steps restaurant, a trendy haunt on Colborne St., near Church and Front Sts.

He also owned rental properties around the GTA and a UPS store on Front St. W.

Police continue to investigate.

WikidFranchise.org related article


How do you break the middle-class chains forged by brand Bullies?

March 26, 2009

mlkfreedomYou guarantee franchised business staffs’ civil and employment rights.

This, in turn, protects every franchisee’s investment rights.

That’s the deal: a living wage and an adequate ROI for everyone. What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander: Freedom for all through collective bargaining franchisees and franchisees’ employees.

My staff and I eat from the same bowl. Our shared adversary (the franchisor) steals the whole dish.

“I will let my staff become unionized if that is their wish. I will negotiate in good faith with their legal representatives and fire any of my managers that go against this management decision. I wish to be my employees’ partner not their master.

I give my employees what they need to live, knowing that they and their union will help me achieve what I need to stay in business as a franchise.

My staff and I are partners who are both protected by experts in negotiation and power relationships.”

The intelligence, toughness and strength that organized labour brings to the negotiating table is only feared by one stakeholder: the franchisor. Their propaganda and self-loathing is there for everyone to see.

Your staff wants you to succeed financially and personally. They want you to be in business next year. They would like to have a decent wages, health care and retirement savings. They don’t begrudge you and your family making a living: in fact, they’d like to be part of the American Dream too one day.

Who stands in the way of both of you you making those dreams a reality?

Franchisees: You decide.

  • Survive on your knees (alone) or Stand Together.
  • No one ever raised themselves up (with dignity) by pushing others down.

Help those who will help you: today and tomorrow. Protect them and they will protect you.

History is a great teacher. Now everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.

Martin Luther King Jr., Speaking to the AFL-CIO on December 11, 1961.

The President of the United States and the AFL-CIO video.


Partners in Franchising: Families protecting families

March 16, 2009

cwlFranchises are very often family businesses.

Franchisees have never been alone in evaluating, operating or problem solving a franchised business. The greatest abuses are heaped on family businesspeople.

Legally, they are on the hook for 50% of the results anyway.

It seems to me that they need to be equal partners in decision making, too.

It has been my experience that franchisors are incapable of dealing with partners: They simply freeze, unable to deal with a strong, family-centred person. Men are easy to con and weave dreams. Women are much more grounded.

The most powerful relationship experts and discerning individuals, are women.

With  a minor amount of education (see WikidFranchise.org) they are much, much more able to screen the BS than any man. Men smart, Woman much much smarter.

Partners are also excellent caregivers and God knows some franchise families need a little TLC and someone to talk to. We all know of people that have suffered too much.

I am interested in starting this discussion (and rapidly getting the hell out of the way) of the most powerful group in franchising (period):

Partners in Franchising

Let John or I know what you think. We need strong leaders coordinating communication and political action in every North American city by the end of the year. Australia too.

I think there should be way more baby carriages on national capitals or in Senator’s offices.

Think about it: Think about a franchise version of the CWL.

  • But with a dislike for bullies.

WikiFranchise.org: Free internet information sharing

March 8, 2009

Understanding franchising on the internet is very difficult because there is too much sales puffery and too little indexing.

WikiFranchise.org

John Johnson and I think we have way to explain franchising through media articles that have already been published. We’ve put 1,600 of them up on a wiki so that you can start to see patterns.

WikidFranchise (both good and not so) is free now and will always be. It is run for franchisees by franchisees. It is powerful, deceptively complex but still very accessible. It is the true face of franchising’s future and the logical next step in Franchising Web 2.0.

To Do:

Go to WikiFranchise.org

Click through the tag cloud of tradenames

Use the search button (name, geography, author)

Search using Risks category on bottom of every document (more work to do)

See some articles we missed? Great

  • Drop us a line and see how you can help.

We need national volunteer editors.


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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