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Tales of Garcon: The Franchise Players is an incredibly striking and professional addition to the world of franchising in print. The book is aimed toward new students to franchising and is especially unique due to its format as a graphic novel textbook. That means this book presents an educational story in the form of a large comic strip. Hurray!
Before turning the first page I have to mention the authors’ credentials. The book’s writers are particularly notable due to their respective publication records spanning the world’s best management journals. This includes, for one of the authors (Dave Ketchen), an article in Administrative Science Quarterly (something most management academics would crawl over broken glass for).
The illustrator, Will Terrell, should also be mentioned at the outset because the illustrations are simply incredible and, with upward of 150 pages of high quality imagery, the labour must have been immense.
For Franchisephiles, the Tales of Garcon tracks the exploration and consideration of franchising within a small, successful family run hotel (Hotel Garcon). The hotel is named after its somewhat aging yet charismatic and heroic founder. The hotel, for all intents and purposes, is now run by Garcon’s two siblings. These comprise Garcon’s dopey successor son Ramón and, the more intelligent, learned and attractive daughter, Isabel.
The book is a fantastical tale spiced up by the entry of Audrey (with help from the illustrator’s figure-hugging pen), a potential franchisee with evil intent. Audrey also sports a background linked to the harrowing disappearance of Garcon’s beloved wife.
The boundaries of realism are pushed throughout the book, but that exaggeration adds to the story and no doubt the attention span of students reading the text. Students reading the book learn a lot of valuable information and interesting facts about franchising as the Hotel Garcon story and franchising decision-making process unfolds.
Those with a focus on franchising should be aware the book’s audience also includes students of family business. Indeed, there is an almost equal focus on franchising and family business dynamics. But that dual focus should be applauded as many franchisors and franchisee businesses involve family members.
The book is clearly structured for learning. Readers are regularly reminded of the story and concepts covered, by way of a summary and glossary of key concepts at the end of each chapter. In addition, each chapter ends with a list of publications for further reading.
The facts presented, coupled with the further publications suggested, should also be of real interest to the wider franchising community. I believe there is currently a weak bridge between research and practice. This presentation helps strengthen those links and should broaden the target audience beyond students to actual franchisees, franchisors, and specialist franchising advisors.
Perhaps inline with the fantastical family story plot, the Garcon family’s exploration and subsequent implementation of franchising was nothing short of disastrous. Indeed, witnessing the family’s process, largely due to dopey Ramon’s leadership, was like watching a slow moving train smash. But that’s not to suggest what happened wouldn’t in real life. It does. But it is so far from what can be recognised as good franchise development practice we’re left with the impression Garcon’s wonderful flagship is about to become a monumental multi-site disaster. Fortunately, the story does have a happier ending.
If I was to identify one opportunity, it would be to emphasise the need for relevant and timely professional advice. This would help direct both students and practitioners (including some advisors) onto the right path. Prospective franchisees, like Audrey, need accounting and legal advice from recognized franchising specialists. Meanwhile, Garcon is in desperate need of a competent franchise development consultant to assist the family a) understand if franchising is appropriate and feasible, b) make necessary structural and management preparations, and c) implement franchising successfully. Use of such a consultant would have picked off many of the family’s structural points of contention (e.g. type of franchising, delineation of responsibilities, necessary support mechanisms, franchise fees, territories etc) one by one and with some precision. They could then help brief an appropriate legal specialist to draft a franchise agreement and help address disclosure requirements.
Overall, I found Tales of Garcon: The Franchise Players an incredibly striking and high quality book. It definitely makes my top 10 for its uniqueness in story and presentation, and links to further reading and research. While the book is clearly aimed toward students I do believe those already involved in franchising will also appreciate the story, and find great value in the facts and additional reading suggestions provided.
My 5 year old daughter also loved looking at Tales of Garcon. Maybe that makes her the youngest student of franchising.