Quiznos Franchise Narrowly Avoids Bankruptcy
Through a last second deal with a deep-pocketed private equity investor, the once-celebrated Quiznos franchise has managed to narrowly avoid bankruptcy. The sandwich chain negotiated the extinguishing of some $300 million in obligations while securing a fresh $150 million in capital from NYC-based private equity backer Avenue Capital, a distressed investment fund with approximately $20 billion in assets under management.
Despite a bruising economy and brutal competition from sandwich rival Subway, Quiznos was able to stave off total collapse at the franchisor level for years, leaning on (some franchisees would contend crushing) its franchisees by imposing rising supply costs and promotional efforts on its franchisee network. That strategy kept the franchisor afloat, but brought about a rapid shuttering of units, with some 600 Quiznos restaurants faltering in 2010 alone.
With a second lease on life and control of the franchisor squarely in the hands of private equity professionals, will Quiznos be able to navigate a still-shaky economy, challenge Subway for supremacy, and win back the trust of its surviving franchisees?
Read more about the Quiznos deal with Avenue Capital on NPR.
Know Before you Go – Non-Compete Provisions in Franchise Agreements
In general, non-compete provisions state that the franchisee will not, during the term of the franchise agreement and for a reasonable period thereafter (typically two or three years), own or be involved in any “competitive business.” What constitutes a “competitive business” will vary from franchise system to franchise system, but most franchisees can generally expect to be prohibited from taking part in any business that offers goods/services that are either identical to or competitive with the goods/services offered under the franchise system. Non-compete provisions must be limited in geographic scope, and generally cover a set radius (usually somewhere around 5 to 25 miles) around the former franchised outlet, and possibly also the outlets of other existing franchisees.
How Franchisees Can Grow Their Sales
However, once the ribbons come down and time passes, franchisees begin to recognize the challenge ahead and that, in many ways, they're on their own: regardless of the amount of support their franchisor provides, the franchisee is ultimately responsible for generating sales for his or her new business.
Why Franchisors Don’t Like Negotiating
The first impression that the franchisee gets from reading the franchise agreement is total incomprehension, unless they are well versed in legal terminologies and phrasing. The FDD is required to be in plain English but the franchise agreement has no such requirement. Typically, the franchisor’s legal department works extremely hard to secure the franchisor’s position through the Agreement and makes it impenetrable for someone who is not a lawyer to understand. The uniform nature of the agreement for all franchisees makes it assumed that the franchisee must sign the agreement so that all the franchisees follow the same terms. Even though that is partially true, the franchisee can plead their case and negotiate terms where they believe that they are offering something unique to the franchisor.