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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.

7 Options for Financing When Buying a Franchise

The primary difference between equity financing and debt financing is that with debt financing, you will have an obligation to pay back the borrowed sum at a stated interest rate, but you will retain control of the business; in equity financing you are giving up a part of the business to an investor or investors in exchange for their financing. The investors may claim some control of the business operations; they will also have some ownership in the assets and potentially will take a share in the earnings. You will not have a set debt obligation to repay as you would with a monthly loan payment to a bank. The investor will be taking a risk as to when and how much of the investment he or she will recoup, as well as whether there will be a return on the investment.

Choosing Between a Franchise and Starting a Business

Owning your own business has always been a linchpin of the American Dream. With the advent of franchising, prospective owners now face a choice between running an independent business and operating their business unit as part of a franchise system. Put differently, they can launch a brand new restaurant churning out specialty cakes and ice cream sundaes, or open a Cold Stone Creamery location. Determining the right option for you comes with some complexities, but there are a couple of primary factors to consider: Your risk tolerance and your personality type.

Don't Write a Business Plan

I've started and successfully harvested businesses. I've taught entrepreneurship for almost 20 years. As a part of my teaching and research I've written books and texts on how to write a business plan. I've read almost a thousand of them. Now I believe franchise companies can think differently about business plans.