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Is Best Western a Franchisor?

PHOENIX — Best Western is at odds with conventional wisdom in the franchise world. Critics think if franchisees are left to their own devices, they will lower operating standards in order to give themselves a pass. Conventional wisdom whispers that store and hotel owners would not allow a chain to expand for fear that more hotels would encroach on their own territory, or that local franchisees are apathetic to international franchise development. In short, detractors state that franchisees are not capable of seeing the big "brand" picture.

Industry insider Turkel thinks at the heart of such misinformation is either ignorance or that franchisors know better but simply don't want to be pressured to give up control. "Franchisors are destined to repeat their past mistakes when they murmur the standard cliché that franchisees will ruin the brand if they participate in running it," exclaims Turkel. "Most franchise owners have huge investments. They are property owners. These entrepreneurs want to build the brand and are more than capable of understanding the big picture if encouraged and supported," he states.

Still, critics add that the hotel giant cannot be a "true" franchise system because its contracts are too easily exited for the strict control that they feel "proper" business format franchising needs. After all, hotel franchisors often stipulate 20 year franchise terms. Meanwhile, Best Western and others, find it to their advantage to separate themselves from the reputation of abusive practices that franchise systems have gained. These systems often market hotel owners as members, rather than franchises.

The courts disagree. They have ruled that Best Western International is a franchisor.

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Don Sniegowski is editor of Blue MauMau, the daily news journal for franchise & small business owners. Call him at +1 (270) 321-1268, tweet @bluemaumau or email