Franchisee Missteps: A View Into Public Disputes
More than one Canadian franchise has been in the news in the past because of a strained relationship between franchisees and the franchisor that has spilled out into the public. This doesn't happen too often, but when it does, the brand and its franchisees suffer. There are some valuable lessons you can learn from this type of scenario so you don't end up making the same mistakes.
Be direct with your concerns
Going to the media instead of right to the franchisor tends to be a mistake. Airing out the complaints publicly will ultimately damage your business, too. It's best to talk to the franchisor about the problems you're having in a straightforward manner. If the franchisor won't do anything, it's time to sell and get out of that relationship and move into a better one.
Know the truth
In some cases, franchisees have been found to be untruthful in some of their public allegations against their franchisor. This makes the franchisees lose all of their credibility, even if they did have legitimate concerns in the mix. Make sure you can back everything you are claiming so you don't end up in a position that you can't defend.
Remember the confidentiality agreement
Part of being a franchisee is following the rules set by the franchisor, and this will likely include a confidentiality clause. Violating that can put your business at risk, no matter how valid your issues are. Know what these rules are before you sign your franchise agreement, and revisit them if you have questions about it later before you take action.
Think before you act
If you are suspicious of something your franchisor is doing, ask questions about it instead of jumping to conclusions. Open communication is necessary for a healthy franchisor-franchisee relationship, and the last thing you want to descend into is a stream of gossip and rumors.
Act like a partner
Franchises are essentially symbiotic relationships. In order for you to be successful as a franchisee, you have to help your franchisor and your brand. You are linked in the minds of the public - your customer base - so actions that harm the brand will harm you, too. Think twice before taking actions that could have a negative impact on your franchisor as there may be another way to have your concerns addressed that doesn't put your business right into the line of fire.