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Franchise Management For Dummies®

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by Robert Cresanti, CFE, President and Chief Executive Officer,

International Franchise Association

In your hands is a powerful book that holds essential keys to running a successful franchise business. It is crucial that prospective business owners and entrepreneurs understand how to properly navigate the franchise business model, and Franchise Management For Dummies by Michael Seid, CFE, and Joyce Mazero offers a step-by-step approach to establishing, operating, and expanding your franchise. I’ve had the privilege of working with Michael directly in his role as an active member of the International Franchise Association Board of Directors. When I first joined IFA, I was repeatedly told to first speak with Michael and read his writings about franchising, including the older title, Franchising For Dummies, published a decade ago. His insights served as foundational elements to understanding the business model. To this day, when I need advanced/master crafted counsel on franchise issues, Michael and Joyce are at the top of my “must call” list.

I cannot think of anyone more qualified than Michael and Joyce to write this much-needed book. It contains in-depth information on the history and framework of franchising, including the three types of franchising: traditional, business format, and social. There’s instruction on how to research and select the franchise concept that’s right for you and what to know when franchising to multiple units. It also includes sections on raising capital, choosing and managing locations, conducting legal due diligence, setting up supply chains, hiring, training, acquiring existing franchises, and mapping out exit strategies. There are even chapters for lovers of top ten lists, covering the ten keys to success and ten questions to ask before investing in a franchise.

Applicable to all levels of franchising from a single-unit franchisee to a large franchisor, Franchise Management For Dummies spans the entire life cycle of a franchise business from start to finish.

Franchising is about people and relationships, both inside and outside your organization, which is why the sections on working with fellow franchisors and franchisees is so important. Attracting and keeping customers is another one of my favorites. The lessons in this book go beyond franchising to address how to build relationships and design processes that are beneficial to everyone in the organization.

This book is essential reading for anyone who is seriously examining the road to small business ownership. Michael and Joyce’s deep knowledge of the franchising industry, easy-to-remember terminology, and thought-provoking format makes this the ultimate blueprint for franchising.

According to a January 2017 report from IFA’s Franchise Education and Research Foundation and IHS Markit Economics, employment growth in the franchise sector again outpaced the U.S. economy as a whole in 2016, building on a multi-year trend that is expected to continue in 2017. The franchise business model accounts for nearly 8 million jobs at more than 744,000 establishments in the U.S. alone. It offers a path to business ownership at a reduced risk by using existing brands and operational practices.

I’m grateful to Michael and the IFA Board of Directors for their dedication to protecting, enhancing, and promoting franchising. Franchise Management For Dummies is an extension of these efforts, as it clearly defines franchising, and in doing so lays out the compelling case why the business model is so important to the U.S. economy and throughout the world.


Welcome to Franchise Management For Dummies! In our opinion, it’s not an overstatement to suggest that because of franchising, our lives have improved immensely. We now have access, on seemingly every street in the world, to an ever-growing expanse of high-quality branded products and services delivered consistently from location to location, regardless of where we shop. Franchising is also responsible for creating significant wealth in the United States and globally through local ownership of businesses supported by franchise systems. Each of those locally owned businesses creates jobs that drive our economic health.

Franchising has also become the most important and largest vehicle for training entrepreneurial skills, while providing the “first rung” on the career ladder for many young people. Just consider the sheer number of people whose first jobs were working at a branded franchised location. In addition, in the past few years the methods and standards found in commercial franchising are being applied to many of the health and economic problems in the developing world. Social franchising is a transformational way of delivering products and services to individuals and their families at the base of the economic pyramid (see Chapter 17 for more). Social franchising holds the promise of not just saving countless lives, but of transforming economies that have held people back from achieving a better life for themselves and their communities — not bad for a method intended to create wealth and bring quality products and services to consumers in the industrialized world!

About This Book

Franchising is complex—no one book can provide a complete understanding of its dynamics. That’s why we focus on what we believe are the most important elements. In some areas, because they are so complex, we can only go an inch deep and a mile wide. Transforming a complex business approach with so many variations into a friendly consumer book has its challenges and limitations. We highlight those areas we think will provide you with the most benefit. Where we see potential gaps, we remind you to seek professional and experienced help in franchising. In fact, we can do even more than that: Your friendly authors, Michael Seid ( and Joyce Mazero (, are available when you need us.

tip Franchising is a dynamic method of expansion. It will continue to change for many reasons — new methods are constantly being adopted, and technology is changing all the time — but don’t worry, even an old dog can learn new tricks. We have created a companion website (more on this later) to keep the information fresh. We will also likely ask other professionals we respect in the world of franchising to contribute to the website, so we strongly recommend — even if you’ve studied every page of this book — that you check out the companion website.

Most of this book is about franchising as practiced in the United States. After all, modern commercial franchising is a U.S. product, and commercial franchising made its debut in the U.S. under the leadership of one of our founding fathers well before we became an independent nation. (Curious who the first franchisor in North America actually was? Check out Chapter 1.) That said, franchising’s importance has grown globally, creating jobs and wealth along the way, because it has the capacity to sustainably and consistently replicate products and services. Its importance is now part of the solution for addressing societal and community needs in emerging markets in Asia, Africa, South America, and elsewhere. Franchising is even being used to effectively deal with the delivery of social services in the industrialized world. Whether you are located in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world, and whether you are in commerce or trying to tackle a societal problem, know that the basics of what makes franchising successful are universal.

Foolish Assumptions

Michael recalls sending out a copy of the original edition of Franchising For Dummies — which he and Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s, co-authored — to the chairman of one of his firm’s clients (a brand you know very well). We laughed at the note he sent back which said “Great book, learned a lot, could you send a brown paper cover for it so I can put it on my bookshelf?” All kidding aside, rest assured that you are no dummy for reading this book — in fact, quite the opposite. The For Dummies series carefully unwinds complex subjects and transform them into friendly, easy-to-read books.

Our goal for this book is be an essential resource for both novices and experts in franchising. Prospective franchisees can find out what to look for in a great franchisor; existing franchisees can take a peek at what great franchisors are providing their franchisees; emerging and experienced franchisors can gain an understanding about the proper methods of structuring, managing, and expanding their franchise systems; and social impact investors, donors, and NGOs can learn how franchising techniques can transform how they look at providing products and services at the base of the pyramid.

Of course, everyone has some understanding of franchising — it’s part of our daily lives after all, and most people shop at a franchisee-owned location nearly every day. But many don’t stop to realize that they are shopping at a business owned and operated by their neighbor. Franchisors have done such a good job in designing, developing, and managing franchise systems to deliver on a consistent brand promise that many people, including some legislators, believe that franchisees and franchisors do more than share a brand.

Although the sign above the front door may bear the name of a national chain, the name on the lease, on the paychecks, and on the purchase orders is the name of someone local who is risking their capital for the future success of the business. Franchising may be about chain businesses, but Franchise Management For Dummies will show you that sharing a common brand and sharing ownership are not the same thing.

Icons Used in This Book

Throughout this book, icons in the margins highlight different types of information that call out for your attention. Here are the icons you’ll see along with a brief description of each.

remember This points out stuff you should tuck in your brain for future reference.

technicalstuff If we start digging into a topic beyond the essentials of what you need to know, we warn you with this icon. If you’re looking for an in-depth discussion, dig in; otherwise, you can safely skip ahead.

tip Tips provide hard-earned insider insights. When you’re looking for a better, faster way to do something, pay special attention here.

warning This flags things to watch out for and avoid — proceed with caution.

playthis This icon points out more goodies to be found on the companion website.

Beyond the Book

As we’ve been bragging about, an abundance of information and guidance on franchise structure and management is provided in this book, but not even we could cover every element in the detail required and still fit it all between these covers. That’s why we offer a whole lot more help and information online — just go to This site is chock full of additional information, including more depth on legal issues, advice on structuring your franchise program, tools to help you select and evaluate franchise opportunities, and much more. Check out the Franchise Management For Dummies Cheat Sheet. Simply go to and type “Franchise Management Cheat Sheet” in the Search box.

Where to Go from Here

You’ve embarked on a journey. Congratulations. Neither Michael nor Joyce can be with you in person as you make this journey (unless you give us a call or shoot us an email). We have tried to be your trusted guides throughout this book, and you can consider Franchise Management For Dummies to be your roadmap — in a simple, straightforward, and (we hope) entertaining way.

To make the journey, of course, you have to read this book. For the best experience, we suggest simply starting with Chapter 1 and going from there. Certainly if you’re new to franchising, starting at the beginning and reading it all the way through would be a good approach. Feel free to flag those sections that you think are the most important to you or that you may not have understood fully. Then go back and read them again — with a broader knowledge of franchising, they may start to make better sense to you.

You can also read each chapter (and even each section) independently, which is useful if you have other things to do at the moment. In each chapter, we note other areas of the book that explore in greater detail some of the information you see.

If you’re experienced in franchising, you may want to skip some of the more introductory chapters and focus on the subjects that interest you most or where you need additional guidance. You can use the table of contents or the index to find what you’re looking for and flip directly to those sections. And of course, make certain you take advantage of the material on the website.

We hope this book gives you a valuable jumping-off point as you make your franchise decisions. Simply turn the page and begin!


Glossary of Common Franchising Terms

Don’t look for the following definitions in any legal journal. We want to give you a sense of what people in franchising mean when they say something — not turn you into a franchise attorney.

acknowledgment of receipt:
Item 23 of the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) that is signed by the prospective franchisee and provided to the franchisor (in hard copy or electronically signed) as proof of the date the FDD was received by the prospect.
advertising fee:
Franchise systems advertise to consumers — a lot — and most of the cost of developing the consumer marketing material is paid for out of a fund. Depending on the system, the fund also may pay for the cost of placing the ads you see on TV and hear on radio or elsewhere. The money to produce and place the ads gets there when the franchisee makes a contribution to the fund. That’s what we call the advertising fee.
advertising fund:
See system brand fund.
A party that has implied or expressed (oral or written) authority to act on behalf of another.
approved advertising materials:
Materials provided by a franchisor for the franchisee’s use in his local market. These may also be materials created by the franchisee that the franchisor has approved for use.
approved site:
A location that the franchisor determines meets its criteria for a location. Site approval does not usually indicate any level of sales or guarantee of the success of the location.
A method of resolving disputes.
area franchisee (multi-unit):
If you want to open and operate many locations and are willing to make the commitment to a franchisor that you’ll develop an agreed-upon number of locations during a defined period — and in a defined territory — you’re an area franchisee. You usually pay an area fee for the rights granted by the franchisor.
authorized or designated supplier:
A supplier of products and/or services who has been approved by the franchisor to sell to franchisees. An approved supplier may be the franchisor or an affiliate company.
An outside salesperson or firm. For a fee — usually a commission — brokers sell franchises for a franchisor. Some brokers like to call themselves franchise consultants but that’s a misnomer (see franchise consultant, later in this glossary).
business-format franchising (BFF):
Wendy’s, Meineke, and PostNet are business-format franchisors. In a business-format franchise, the most important thing you get from the franchisor is the method to conduct the business. See also product and trade name franchising to understand how BFF differs.
business plan:
A planning document that details the objectives for the business and established processes and the measures for meeting those objectives.
capital required:
The initial investment or required amount of investment necessary to conduct the business.
Program by which a franchisor or franchisee tests and attests to the ability of a manager or employee to perform certain job functions within the franchisor’s standards. The franchisor or franchisee can usually revoke certification if the manager or employee fails to maintain standards in performing the job function.
Sometimes franchises fail, and the franchisor becomes the owner of the failed location. In the hands of a non-franchisor, who does not have the ability to franchise the location to another person, the location may be a candidate for closure, if the non-franchisor didn’t think that the location could be turned around. In the hands of some franchisors, though, that location, even with the prospect of continuing failure, is resold, sometimes again and again to new franchisees, who also eventually fail. Churning is not a common practice in franchising, but it does happen. Beware of franchisors that churn.
company-owned location:
The locations owned and operated by a franchisor or affiliate. They should be identical in appearance and operations to those locations operated by the franchisees.
continuous training:
In most franchise systems, you, your managers, and maybe your staff receive initial training when you join the system. In a good franchise system, the training is continuous, meaning that the franchisor offers you training throughout the term of the franchise relationship.
conversion franchisee:
An independent businessperson who agrees to convert her business to the franchisor’s brand and operating procedures. She changes the business name, adopts the franchise system’s methods of operation, and agrees to pay fees.
The franchisor’s ownership rights over the manuals and other published materials you use in the system.
culture of compliance:
The franchisor’s culture whereby franchisees and staff do what is right for the system based on a feeling or knowledge that it’s the right thing to do within the company philosophy rather than because it’s in the agreement or someone is watching.
customer information:
Any information gathered by or for the franchisor or its franchisees about an actual or potential customer, including, without limitation, names, addresses, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and all other personally identifying information, regardless of whether such information was gathered prior to the commencement of the agreement; customer credit information; billing information; and records. Customer information is usually considered confidential information of the franchisor.
Generally refers to calendar days.
day-to-day management:
As an independent owner, the franchisee is obligated to manage the day-to-day affairs of his business to meet the franchisor’s brand standards.
Generally refers to the failure of either the franchisor or the franchisee to meet their obligations under the franchise agreement.
Includes everything that makes a location look like all the other franchise locations — the layout, colors, signage, logo, and so on.
disclosure document:
Also known in the United States as the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). In the United States, all franchisees must receive an FDD at least 14 days before they sign an agreement with the franchisor or write the franchisor a check. Disclosure documents are not required everywhere around the world. In the disclosure document, you find information about the franchisor, including the obligations of the franchisor and the franchise, fees, start-up costs, and other required information about the franchise system.
The right granted by manufacturers or wholesalers to individuals or businesses to sell their products.
financial performance representation:
Generally refers to the Item 19 disclosure made by franchisors in their FDD and unit performance.
exclusive territory:
If a franchisor agrees to give you an area around your location where it will not put another franchise or company-owned location, you have an exclusive territory. The area can be quite small (the four walls of your store) or it can be quite large (cities, counties, states, or countries). Most often, the size is somewhere in the middle.
Franchise Disclosure Document. See disclosure document.
feasibility study:
A study of a company that is thinking about becoming a franchisor. The company usually hires a franchise-consulting firm that looks at the company and gives management its opinion on whether the company can become a successful franchisor.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
The agency of the U.S. government that regulates franchising.
field consultant:
Field consultants usually work for a franchisor. Their job is to make sure that the franchisees are following the franchisor’s rules. In good systems, field consultants are also responsible for giving the franchisees advice and assistance in running their businesses.
The layout of a location, including placement of all furniture, fixtures, and equipment.
Every franchise is a license, but not every license is a franchise. Confused? Many people are. A franchise is a special type of license that usually has three elements: (1) The franchisor lets the franchisee use the franchisor’s name and marks, (2) the franchisor provides the franchisee with assistance or has some control over how the franchisee operates the business, and (3) the franchisee pays the franchisor some money. In the United States, the fee is $500 or more during a six-month period.
franchise agreement:
The written contract between the franchisor and franchisee. The franchise agreement tells each party what it’s supposed to do and what it isn’t supposed to do.
franchise attorney:
An attorney who specializes in franchise law.
franchise consultant:
A business advisor with significant knowledge of the design, development, and operation of franchising and the underlying franchise relationship. Some brokers like to call themselves franchise consultants, but that’s a misnomer (see broker, earlier in this glossary).
franchise fee:
When a franchisee signs a franchise agreement, he usually writes a check to the franchisor — that’s the franchise fee. The fee is the cost of joining the system. The fee is typically a flat fee, as opposed to a percentage of sales like the royalty.
The person or company that gets the right from the franchisor to do business under the franchisor’s trademark and trade name.
franchisee in good standing:
A franchisee who is operating her business in full compliance with the franchisor’s operating and other standards per the franchise agreement and is current with all payments due to the franchisor.
A method of distribution; in other words, a method of growing a business.
The person or company that grants the franchisee the right to do business under their trademarks or service marks.
gray marketing:
When a franchisee sells or uses products or services obtained through his franchise relationship in another business or sells products or merchandise to another company without the authorization of the franchisor.
gross sales:
Generally the total sales of the business, before the collection of any sales taxes and after specified deductions. Generally used as the basis for percentage royalty calculations.
initial investment:
The initial costs of getting into business, which usually include the franchise fee, the cost of the fixed assets, leasehold improvements, inventory, deposits, other fees and costs, and the working capital required during the start-up period.
Anyone requesting information about a franchise opportunity, whether via the Web site, by telephone, by fax, and so on.
International Franchise Association (IFA):
The industry trade association that represents franchising.
Internet sales:
Any sale initiated and completed on the World Wide Web.
key supplier or vendor:
A supplier with whom the franchisor has negotiated pricing or product availability and whose products or services are an integral part of the franchise system.
An inquiry who is pre-qualified after the initial interview with a member of the development staff as meeting the minimum criteria to become a franchisee and is invited to submit a franchise application.
The site of the franchised or company-owned operation.
The bible of a franchise system. The manual is the place to look for instructions on how the franchisor wants the locations to operate and for other policies and recommendations concerning the system.
market introduction program:
Marketing, advertising, and public relations activities used to launch a franchisee’s business. Also known as grand-opening marketing.
master franchisee:
Take a look at the definition of area franchisee. Now, in addition to operating its own locations, the master franchisee also gets the right to sell franchises to subfranchisees within the master franchisee’s specified territory. The master franchisee will have their own FDD and may provide to the subfranchisee some of the services provided by the franchisor and will typically split with the franchisor the franchise fee and royalties paid by the subfranchisee.
multi-unit franchisee:
A franchisee who owns more than one franchise but may not have an area development agreement.
operating principal:
Franchises owned by more than one person that appoint a single individual authorized to make decisions on behalf of the franchisee. This person is the operating principal and is usually the person with whom the franchisor consults regarding the operation and conduct of the franchise.
product and trade name franchising:
Pepsi and Ford are product and trade name franchisors technically called traditional franchisors. In a traditional franchise, the franchisee sells or distributes a specific product using the franchisor’s trademark, trade name, and logo (for example, automobile dealerships, truck dealerships, farm equipment, mobile homes, gasoline service stations, automobile accessories, soda, beer, and bottling), and the product generally needs pre or post sales service. The most important thing you get from the franchisor is the product that the franchisor manufactures, not the system of running the business, as in business-format franchising.
A person who has expressed interest in continuing the approval process by completing and submitting the franchise application and whose application has been preliminarily approved by the approval committee or the development director.
protected territory:
Provides certain rights to franchisees within a market area but generally does not prohibit a franchisor from opening additional company or franchisee owned locations near a franchisee.
quality standards:
Some systems have high quality standards; others don’t. If franchisors want to control quality, however, they tell the franchisees what those standards are in their training programs, manuals, and other communications. Quality franchise systems tightly control these standards for the benefit of the franchise system and its franchisees.
Some states in the U.S. require the franchisor to send the state its disclosure document for approval prior to offering franchises. No registration is required at the federal level.
registration states:
The various states that require franchisors to submit their FDD for approval prior to offering franchises.
retrofranchising or refranchising:
Retrofranchising and refranchising are not the same as churning. These are existing locations that may or may not have ever been franchised before but are currently operated by the franchisor. The franchisor that is retrofranchising or refranchising locations is selling the operating business to a franchisee. In these situations, the franchisor has an expectation that the business will be successful. See also churning.
royalty fee:
The franchisee sends the franchisor a check on a regular basis to stay part of the franchise system. Usually, the payment is based on a percentage of the franchisee’s gross sales, but it can be a fixed fee or calculated on some other basis. That continuing fee is the royalty fee.
service mark:
A mark used to identify the services of one company as distinguished from the services of another. Service marks are afforded similar protection under the law.
single-unit franchise:
A franchisee who owns and operates a single franchise.
start-up costs:
An estimate of the initial investment that the franchisee will make in becoming a franchisee. It’s also known as an Item 7 disclosure. It generally includes the franchise fee, the cost of fixed assets, leasehold improvements, inventory, deposits, other fees and costs, and working capital required during the start-up period.
How do you define success: profit, growth, or return on investment? In some franchise systems, success often simply describes the absence of failure or the closing of a location. It may have nothing at all to do with unit sales or profitability. You can expect your start-up costs to vary based on your market and whether or not your franchisor’s brand is well known in your area.
successor agreement:
The franchisee’s ability to continue in the business for additional terms following a successful completion of their initial term. Also known as renewal.
system brand fund:
Although often confused with an advertising fund, a brand fund generally allows the franchisor to spend the brand fund on more than it can under an advertising fund.
The marks, brand name, and logo that identify a franchisor. It’s the name that the franchisor licenses to the franchisee.
A location that a franchisor builds and then sells to a franchisee fully equipped and ready to operate.

Part 1

Wrapping Your Brain Around Franchising


Explore a bit of the surprising history of franchising and get to know the roles of franchisor and franchise.

Check out the different kinds of franchised businesses and franchising arrangements.

Understanding the similarities and differences between entrepreneurship and franchising to see if franchising is right for you

Dive into a franchisor’s mandatory legal obligations to prospective franchisees, the franchise disclosure document (FDD), and working with franchise professionals.

Chapter 1

The Power of the Brand


check Exploring the history of franchising

check Defining a franchise and the roles of franchisor and franchisee

check Getting to know franchise wannabes, and why should you avoid them

check Understanding the rights you will be granted under a franchise agreement

Three constants have fueled the growth of franchising over its long history: the desire to expand, the limitations on human and financial capital, and the need to overcome distance. Although you may think of franchising mostly in the context of your neighborhood fast food outlets, franchising has transformed how we purchase products and services today. More than 120 distinct industries use franchising today, and because of that it is nearly impossible to drive down any major street in the world and not pass by some business that is part of a franchise network. This chapter begins your exploration of franchising, not by looking at any particular franchise but by giving you some of the basics so you can better understand what franchising is all about.

Tracing the History of Franchising

Franchising seems ageless and omnipresent. It is used commercially today in over 120 industries to deliver to us all types of products and services in a way that allows us to trust in the consistent quality of the franchisor’s brand. It is also now being used by social enterprises such as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to bring fresh water, healthcare, education, electricity, and countless other products and services internationally to people living in underdeveloped parts of the world.

Franchising is a way for companies to expand and bring their products and services to consumers without the company owning and operating their locations directly. It is a way to create wealth through the establishment of independent local businesses. In addition to creating jobs at those independently owned locations, franchising is the single largest engine of entrepreneurial training in the world and has consistently been one of the driving forces in creating new entry-level jobs in every market in which franchising exists. It is one of the most productive methods ever adopted for the creation of wealth, capital formation, and a solid middle class.

Franchising is not new and it wasn’t invented by Ray Kroc or McDonald’s. It stems from systems used long ago by governments and by the church. Consider the legends of Robin Hood and Camelot. If you examine the relationships between the kings and the nobles, you can begin to understand the historic impact of franchising. It would have been impossible for the heads of government then to effectively control expansive territories, raise armies, regulate commerce, collect taxes, and provide government services without a structure that provided territory to nobles — who in exchange acted on behalf of the government and shared the local taxes and fees collected. That is, essentially, franchising. Even today, the continuing fee paid by franchisees to franchisors is called a royalty. A similar relationship was used by the churches and effectively still is. Franchising allowed for global exploration and commerce, and companies like the Dutch East India Company and the London Company used it to establish trading areas and explore the globe, including North America.

Franchising was first used commercially by European brewers for the distribution of their products to pubs. The first recorded commercial franchise in North America was created by Benjamin Franklin in 1731 in the British colonies, before the United States became a nation. Benjamin Franklin was the Postmaster for the Colonies under the British, and 45 years before the United States became a nation, he and Thomas Whitmarsh entered into the first franchise, or what they called a “Co-partnership,” for the carrying on of the “Business of Printing in Charlestown in South Carolina.” The printing shop published The South Carolina Gazette and was the local printer of many of Franklin’s writings, including his Poor Richard’s Almanack. Franklin went on to establish other franchises in the colonies and elsewhere in the years before the Revolution. His third franchisee was Elizabeth Timothé — a woman. At a time when commerce was substantially male dominated, Elizabeth Timothé is recognized as the first female publisher in North America.

Franchising also played a major role as the United States began its territorial and technological growth. Governments granted monopolies to franchisors for the development of railroads, ferries, electricity, roads, and trading posts needed for municipal infrastructure.

playthis For more on the history of franchising, check out the companion website (search “Franchise Management” at

What Is a Franchise, Anyway?

Franchising is, in a word, a license. It is a system for independently owned businesses to share a common brand, distribute products and services, and expand. It’s a contractual relationship between a brand owner (the franchisor) and an independent local business owner (the franchisee).

For example, Bright Star Care doesn’t “franchise” medical and non-medical home care assistance, FASTSIGNS does not franchise printing, Wetzel’s Pretzels does not franchise pretzel shops and Dat Dog does not franchise hotdogs, sausages, and beer. What each “franchises” is a system that delivers quality branded products and services to consumers. And they do so through a network of independently owned and operated businesses that deliver a consistent customer experience.

“Dat Dog is an experience,” says Bill DiPaola, president and COO of Dat Dog, based in New Orleans. “It is more than simply the great food and expansive assortment of craft beers that make us successful and that will make our franchisees successful. It is our commitment to community, married with the fun and ‘zany’ culture of Dat Dog, that brings our customers back and that is the approach we expect our franchisees to take in each of their restaurants.”

A franchise occurs when a franchisor licenses its trade name and intellectual property — the brand and its operating methods (its system of doing business) — to a person or group who agrees to operate their business to the franchise system’s brand standards. The franchisor defines the brand promise it wants delivered to consumers, provides the franchisee with initial and continuing support, and then ensures compliance by the franchisee on how it delivers on that brand promise. The magic of franchising is that consistent brand standards can be achieved at each location without the franchisor being involved in the day-to-day management of the franchisee’s business.

In exchange, the franchisee pays an initial franchise fee to join the system and a continuing fee known as a royalty to remain a part of the franchise system.

The effects of franchising on modern business

We have grown accustomed to the consistency that comes from shopping at branded locations. From the comfort of knowing exactly what you will find when you check into a Courtyard by Marriott, to the quality of the chicken at a Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen or a haircut at Sport Clips, people know what they will get when they purchase under a franchisor’s brand. The number of companies and industries bringing goods and services to consumers through franchising is growing, limited only by the imagination of the people who understand its potential application.

The size and impact that franchising has had on the economy in the United States is often unrecognized. According to the Franchise Education and Research Foundation, business-format franchising in 2017 is projected to generated close to 8 million jobs in the U.S., accounting for over $700 billion in economic output and over $425 billion in gross domestic product from more than 744,000 establishments. In a recent survey, more than 76 percent of American consumers favorably viewed shopping at a locally owned franchise business in their neighborhood. That’s the power of franchising today.

The success of franchising for business owners

Franchising creates opportunities for business ownership to create personal wealth and generates local jobs. It also consistently delivers products and services on a global basis to the brand standards established by the franchisor.

As you explore becoming a franchisee or a franchisor, be wary of statistics that talk about the “success rate” in franchising. As late as 2000, the International Franchise Association published statistics that claimed that franchisees had a success rate of 95 percent — versus a failure rate of 85 percent for nonfranchised startups in their first five years in business. Those statistics turned out to be inaccurate and misleading.


Franchising can be a very effective method of getting into business, but that depends on how carefully the franchise system is structured and supported. Even in highly successful franchise systems, locations can fail for a host of reasons. It is up to prospective franchisees to conduct a proper examination of every franchise opportunity that interests them.