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Now entering the Franchise Zone. Ye Lovers of Truth, Turn Back Now! Have you ever wondered why even the major business and news media seem to perpetuate the same old franchise myths, nonsensical rankings and serious misinformation?
I saw a brilliant example of this recently when Forbes released its "Top 20 Franchises for the Buck" and crowned Snap-on Tools #1 franchise.
The award was based on the writer's incorrect belief that Snap-on had zero failures in the past 3 years. In reality, the Snap-on FDD lists 12 pages of locations that "ceased operations" and were reacquired by the franchisor. There were 835 standard franchises and 225 "Gateway" franchises reacquired in those 3 years, according to Snap-on’s own FDD.
Additionally, the writer understated the initial investment by about $100K. This was significant because 2 of his 5 critera were investment and the ratio of training hours to investment. In a post on UnhappyFranchisee.com (Forbes’ Praise of the Snap-On Franchise Draws Fire, Disbelief), I pointed out that he had fed bad data into 3 of his 5 criteria and wrongly crowned Snap-on Tools #1.
The writer (nice guy, incidentally) published another post acknowledging the complaints and vowing to tighten up his methodology in the future. I had suggested he knock out Snap-on and two other objectionable franchises and make it the “17 Best Franchises for the Buck,” but Forbes let the unjustified (IMHO) ranking stand.
So Snap-on Tools is free to boast in its franchise recruitment marketing that Forbes named it the #1 franchise, despite their knowledge that it was based on a mistake.
Across the Internet, the claim that Snap-on Tools has had “0 franchise closures” has already fruitfully multiplied.
One franchise blog I find particularly deceptive, FranchiseChatter.com (home to many of those “objective” bogus franchise reviews), acknowledged the controversy then proceeded to provide three links to Forbes, to praise the Forbes writer’s “refreshing humility,” and to reprint the bogus ranking as-is.
The FranchiseChatter.com writer, supposedly an ex-UPS Store franchisee named “Ambrosio,” bent over backward not to mention or link to the relevant UnhappyFranchisee.com post. My comments to the FC post were disallowed.
I’ve got nothing against Snap-on Tools. In fact, its hometown of Kenosha, WI brings back fond teenage memories of driving up there from Chicago back when the Wisconsin drinking age was only 18 and driving under the influence was still socially acceptable.
However, UnhappyFranchisee.com is swarming with pissed-off tool franchisees. Many of them signed on as franchisees completely unprepared for the rigorous life of a tool truck dealer. Many of them signed on thinking that failure was not even a possibility. Now they are eager to trash their brands online and litigate their franchisors.
Is it really in Snap-on’s best interest to recruit franchisees with unrealistic expectations?
Is it really in any franchisor’s best interest to tell franchisees no one fails, no matter what?
Is it really in the industry’s best interest to muddy the water with misplaced accolades instead of celebrating real best practices from those who actually have minimized failures?
Unfortunately, the franchising community tends to reject the truth like a bad heart.
I think that hurts all involved.