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What is Subfranchising?

Franchisors may at times grant the right to exercise powers, normally reserved for them, to a franchisee in a specific territory. These entities are called “subfranchisors”. They are charged a separate initial fee during the start-up phase for the right of the subfranchisor to exercise the powers in their area. The rights offered in subfranchising include:

  • The right to offer and sell franchises
  • The right to collect fees and royalties
  • The right to provide training services and support to franchisees within their designated boundaries

Like the franchisor, the subfranchisor signs a subfranchising agreement with the franchisees (when a franchise is sold) in the area. Technically, the subfranchisor takes over the role of the franchisor in certain geographic regions.

The subfranchisor often has to split the fees and royalties which are collected in his domain between himself and the franchise system, but in some cases they may retain a majority of the fees while simply forwarding a certain percentage upwards. The subfranchising agreement usually dictates the amount of the franchise fee and royalty to be received, so even though it may appear as highly lucrative arrangement for the subfranchisor, we have to realize that they have to first spend heavily to sign up a subfranchisee in their territories.

There is no specific amount of units that a subfranchisor may operate, it all depends on the agreement that they have with the franchisor. The franchisor may also revise the quota if the subfranchisor can successfully meet and operate the number of franchises decided upon in the franchise agreement. The expansion objectives may be measured in franchise agreements executed, units open and operating or units “under construction”. The subfranchisor can open their own units in their region but can also license other franchisees in their region in the time allotted to them in the agreement.

One must make sure whether subfranchising is being offered by certain franchises, since not every franchise system offers such agreements. This may be due to the organization disliking the loss of power associated with subfranchising. The subfranchisors can exert greater power on the franchise than individual franchise units since they have more units working under them and are a larger source of revenue for the system.

Subfranchisors also don’t have such an easy arrangement as it appears to be. They run a substantial financial risk as the investment required to purchase a territory can be very large. Also, subfranchisors are responsible for the leasing arrangements of franchisees in their area and they may face litigation from future disgruntled franchisees.

Yet these risks are calculated and overlooked if the subfranchisor focuses on the greater rewards in the long run. They will benefit from sharing the initial fee for each new franchisee and the on-going royalty payments made by the franchisees operating in their geographic region. These royalty payments may last for even 20 years and more.

Where to Find Financing for Your Franchise

If you decide that you do want to obtain financing for your franchise business from external sources, you should:

The Necessity to Revamp Franchise Operations and Systems

But, once the original operating system is established, it must be refined and tweaked as changes take place in its industry and within the company. An ongoing challenge for every business, not only franchise companies, is how to improve their operating systems in order to better manage results.

Before Buying a Franchise Identify Your TRUE Investment

Your approach as a potential franchise buyer is to identify the real investment dollars you’ll need to get the franchise to profitability. The initial source of this information is Item 7 in the FDD. Item 7 is a schedule that details the estimated investment in the franchise. This schedule includes the cost of various items, including: the initial franchise fee, training related expenses, rent, insurance, professional fees for legal and accounting services, supplies, equipment, licenses and permits and additional working capital. Depending upon the specific franchise, there may be added categories. When reviewing the Item 7 schedule it’s important to know that franchisors are not required to list every type of fee or expense that might be part of the investment in the franchise but rather the likely investment needed to start the franchise. As you work to establish your investment number keep in mind the words “estimated” and “typical.” Item 7 is a guide, and as such, you should use this information accordingly.