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I’ve said for years that ‘any business can be franchised, but not every business should be franchised’, and I don’t think they’d be any real disagreement about that. A second position I adopted some time ago is to ‘never’ encourage anyone to franchise, but to certainly warn (after a reasonable feasibility study) ‘not to franchise’ if I feel that the ownership and/or the business is not suitable for that path. (By the way, probably the same percentage of people follow my advice about ‘not franchising’ as accept it regarding the purchase of a franchise.) A third tenet of my practice is to absolutely discourage the franchising of an idea.
Now, I’m not a disciplined man, but I am disciplined in my work. My professional life is dedicated to improving franchising and entrepreneurship in any way that I can, and the best way I know of doing that is being focused, honest, and straight forward with those that care enough to engage me.
What does this introduction have to do with the subject of ‘franchising ideas’? Simple; last week I reached the point of verbal disgust with a man who became frustrated with my refusal to support his franchising desires. His VC sources want to see a return on product development, but the initial business plan failed and now ‘franchising’ seems to be the best straw to grab. My argument that he had no model to follow fell on deaf ears and not even an explanation that experimenting via franchisees’ lives seemed to make a difference.
It doesn’t take an intelligent person to say “Look, you should not franchise an idea or a business that hasn’t been proven”, but it does take someone with a heart and the guts to turn down a fee; it’s blood money. (At a minimum of twice/month I’m contacted about franchising an ‘idea’ that has yet to be turned into a business, but most people accept the reasoning as to why they should prove the business first.)
If this person goes ahead with franchising his ‘idea’ (and I’m sure that he can find plenty of folks willing to kiss up and take his money for the franchising effort), he will once again prove that ‘any idea can be franchised’ – it just takes some money and a decision to do so. On the other hand, I doubt this or any other unproven concept can be franchised successfully,I and I define success as franchisees making a living. Franchisors with the ability to cajole and con buyers will probably always get their money because there are so many guinea pigs out there willing to hear a good sales pitch. I just doubt those franchisors will have much of a later life.
Human nature isn’t going to change anytime soon, and franchising is just a function of human nature. So what can we do if we care about more than a buck? We can simply do the right thing and speak the truth, with volume.