What is a Franchise?
Most of you are probably already familiar with franchises. You may even patronize a variety of franchised businesses without realising that they are franchises. These businesses range from car servicing and financial services to yogurt and home repairs. According to the International Franchise Association(IFA) franchises employed nearly 9,000,000 Americans in 2015 and generated nearly $880 billion. Franchising is difficult to escape.
The technical definition falls fairly in line with what we all typically think a franchise is - “an authorization granted by a company to an individual or group enabling them to carry out specified commercial activities”. Basically they are businesses operated by an individual or a group (the franchisee(s)) that shares a common product and/or trade name to the parent company (the franchisor).
But, what you might not know is that there are actually two major types of franchises: product/trade name franchises and business format franchises. In product and trade name franchises the franchisee (operator of the individual business) has use of a product or trade name, but no supporting relationship with the franchisor (larger company). This means that the franchisee basically operates the business independently, but does benefit from the marketing and advertising efforts of the franchise system. You’ll typically see these types of franchises for products that are older and established with a proven customer base. Some of the most common if these businesses are auto dealerships, gas stations, and soft drink bottling companies. On the other hand business format franchises is a setup that is characterized by an on- going business relationship between franchisor and franchisee. The franchisee is not only offered a trademark and a logo, but also a complete system of doing business. This is the more well known and much faster growing form of franchising, with world famous companies like McDonald’s, Holiday Inn, Century 21, and Baskin-Robbins using this format. This is also the form of franchises that we’ll primarily talk about on FranchiseHelp.
In the best of all worlds, the business format franchise is mutually beneficial for franchisor and franchisee alike. The franchisee typically pays an initial fee and ongoing royalties, giving the franchise system a continuous supply of working capital to develop and expand the organization. In turn, the franchisee gets a business package which would take years to develop and refine, a strengthened ability, to compete through the established brand identity and marketing power of the system, and the cost benefits and clout associated with the franchisor’s collective purchasing power.
How Apricot Lane is Creating Retail Boutiques with the Franchise Model
You are correct - it is very difficult to use the words, "flexible" and "franchise" in the same sentence! The flexibility comes with allowing our franchisees to cater their product mix to their local demographic. Florida fashion is different than North Dakota, Louisiana or California. The sophistication comes with the build-out, marketing, point of sale - inventory management system, intranet communications, buying resources and most importantly, the networking of franchisees across the country sharing fashion trends and what's working.
"Buying" A Franchise
Here at FranchiseHelp we’re constantly asked about the opportunity to buy a franchise. Unfortunately I’m going to have to tell you something that might disappoint you. You can’t “buy” a franchise. In reality you are engaging in a “leasing” transaction rather than a “purchasing” transaction. Why is it a lease? In any franchise deal, the franchisee receives the assets up front, but only for a period of time - the term of the franchise agreement. The term of the agreement may run for five to ten years, or in some cases it may run for as little as a year or two. At the end of the day the renewals of these agreements are at the option of the franchisor, and the reasons for not renewing an agreement should be completely spelled out in the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and franchise agreement.
Advice From Franchisees Who Have Been There
Many of the franchisees we talked with had to make a decision first on whether they would open an independent business or a franchised one. A few of their stories follow.