The 10 Commandments Of A Genius Franchisor

January 6, 2008


Are you thinking of investing in a franchise? Or do you want to expand your business by becoming a franchisor yourself? If so, don’t make another move without checking out the Ten Commandments Of A Genius Franchisor first:

1. Thou Shall Recruit Any Idiot Who Can Come Up With The Cash: In the early days, you need to take anyone you can get because it’s harder to recruit franchisees when you’re not well established. And don’t worry, you won’t be stuck with them forever. Because once you have a few franchisees on board, you can get rid of all the idiots and find new people to replace them.

Who cares if the original idiots lose their life savings? One day, you might even have a whole heap of franchisees who are nearly as smart as you are. Well, maybe only half as smart but that can’t be too bad can it?

2. Thou Shall Find Yourself A Fall Guy: You want everyone to love you right? But you don’t have to actually be all that loveable to achieve this. Early on in the business, employ the biggest a..hole you know and give him a fancy job title. Then delegate all the jobs that could make you unpopular to the fall guy, such as getting rid of franchisees you don’t want anymore, introducing ridiculous policies that nobody will like etc etc.

And encourage him to spend the remainder of his time thinking up ways to rip off franchisees, or piss them off as much as possible and send them mean and meaningless letters. It’s win win - the fall guy will love you because you’ve helped him make a heap of new enemies to victimise. Plus, he’s being paid for what he does best - being an a..hole. And everyone else will love you. They’ll just think the fall guy is an a..hole. But that doesn’t matter, because he always was an a..hole anyway.

3. Thou Shall Ditch Your Prototype: Get rid of your prototype as soon as you’ve recruited the first couple of franchisees. Or better still, don’t bother having one to begin with. Nobody will ever know.

Of course, things will go wrong as you tweak and improve the system. And you won’t really know why. But who cares? You can let the franchisees try to figure it out for themselves. Or better still, blame them because you don’t understand the changes you’ve made to your own system.

4. Thou Shall Get Rid Of Franchisees Often:
But don’t, whatever you do allow them all to sell - or you’ll be losing out on a big heap of profit. Do whatever it takes - get the fall guy to fudge figures, lie, threaten and cheat and make sure at least a dozen of your franchisees are desperate to leave at any given time. Remember - you don’t want them to sell - you want them to leave. That way, you’ll be able to make a nice profit on their business selling to the next idiot who believes your worthless training and shabby equipment is actually worth tens of thousands of pounds/dollars.

If you’re really struggling to get rid of enough franchisees at any one time - here’s a brilliant solution. Send them all an anonymous letter that has the potential to terrify many of them into leaving at once. Tell them that the company is secretly planning to get rid of all franchisees aside from a select few, and if they stay, their business will become worthless. Make the future sound extremely bleak for any franchisees who stay with your company.

Just ensure that you post the letters far enough from your own office that nobody will suspect it was you. Hint - somewhere 45 minutes drive away isn’t really going to cut it, because some of your idiot franchisees may even be able to read a map - so be careful.

5. Thou Shall Always Take The Credit For The Work Of Others: Surround yourself with people who will help you to build your business. But, make sure you always take all the credit for any successes the business has. And never stop telling everyone what a genius you are.

They won’t mind - just promise that you’ll give them a heap of cash when you sell the business and that should shut them up. Of course, you don’t have to give them a penny because you never have to see them again once you’ve sold. And even if you do it doesn’t matter. Will you really give a toss if everyone hates you once you’re loaded?

6. Thou Shall Promise Your Franchisees An Exclusive Area To Operate In: Tell them the area is all theirs and no other franchisee can operate in that area. And don’t, whatever you do, let them know that there are already former franchisees operating the same type of business, right on their doorstep and you’re powerless to do anything about it. Not that you’d waste your energy trying to do anything about it anyway.

So what if they discover the truth on the first day they launch their new business? They’ve signed on the dotted line then. And who cares if they know you lied to them? Like any other customer, it doesn’t matter what they think of you once you’ve got their hard earned cash - does it?

7. Thou Shall Always Blame The Franchisee - No Matter What The Problem: Train your staff as quickly as possible that lies and deceipt is normal in business - after all that’s how all good businesses get ahead isn’t it? But, never entertain the fact that your staff might cheat you too, no matter how badly you treat them - because that’s just too scary to contemplate.

Instead, when things go wrong - eg. leaks to competitors, the press; or anything that has the potential to severely damage your business - blame the franchisees. They might not like the fact that you’re insulting their intelligence by suggesting that one of them might be stupid enough to do things that would harm their own business. And they might even point out that quite a few of your own staff keep leaving to join the competition. But - the truth is, they are stupid - that’s why they bought a franchise from you. And you should remind them of it at any opportunity you get.

8. Thou Shall Find Some Greedy Disciples: In the early stages of franchising your business, find two or three greedy disciples. Don’t pick anyone too smart as they might steal your ideas and set up in competition against you.

Basically allow them to have as many franchised areas as they want at a knockdown price. It doesn’t matter if they’re not making a whole heap of cash in each area - new franchisees are not going to know that. And they’re not going to know how many areas they have either. As long as the total sum is good, you can use the disciples in your advertising and sales pitch and wax lyrical about how rich they are since joining your company.

Try to dissuade the disciples from discussing how much they actually make - telling people it’s shedloads is enough. Because it only takes one of your disciples to brag about their total sales for a year. Then some of the other franchisees might catch on that they’re not really as good as you’ve made them out to be, and they’re not actually even making an acceptable amount in each area.

If this happens, other franchisees might even complain and you should just ignore them. Hopefully they’ll leave soon anyway - especially if you give them a kick in the right direction. After all, you don’t want franchisees who actually think, or ask questions. Where will it end?

As for the greedy disciples - you need to keep them happy at all costs, so you can keep convincing other suckers to buy franchises from you.

And don’t do anything to upset the disciples at all, no matter what they do. Let them do whatever they want - even if that means allowing them to treat your own staff as punchbags when they throw a tempter tantrum. This is really important, because if you do the slightest thing to piss them off, they could betray you.

9. Thou Shall Make Sure You Get Paid Regularly and The Franchisees Don’t: This is easier than it sounds. First, make sure your franchisees have to pay you one month after they’ve invoiced a job. Now, as the business grows - make sure all their customers actually contact you when they want work carried out, not the franchisee.

The customer will like this, especially if they’re a national company, as they only need to call one number - much less complicated. Next, insist that all payments for work carried out, should be sent to you - they’ll like this too, as it’s easier for them. And you can always sweeten them up by giving them better rates and not bothering to chase them up when they don’t pay.

They’ll love you for this so they’ll give you more work - after all, everyone wants something for nothing. And you’ll love it too, as you’ll still be getting paid on time and it won’t cost you a penny to administer, as you’re not going to bother actually chasing up any debts.

And if franchisees reach the point where they actually can’t afford to pay you - put as much pressure on them as possible. Refuse point blank to accept that there is any connection between not being paid themselves and their inability to pay you. Hopefully they’ll leave and you’ll get to keep a lot of the cash they’re owed.

Just be careful to ensure your chosen disciples are still being paid. Who knows what they might do if you upset them?

10) Thou Shall Prove You Can Do It All Again:
Once you’ve sold your business and made your millions - you’ll want to buy another one, just to prove you can do it all again. But, you and I both know that not every business you start is going to be successful - even if you are a genius.

So, if you are struggling - don’t forget this important point: Never ever tell any of your former staff or franchisees that you’re not doing well. Because the chances are, they’ll probably think it serves you right. And they might even tell others you’re not doing so great and that would be really embarrassing.

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14 Responses to “The 10 Commandments Of A Genius Franchisor”

  1. Ian Denny on January 6th, 2008 8:29 pm

    I imagine many franchise opportunities are dreadful - for the franchisee. The franchisor is a different matter. They cover themselves extremely well.

    But those who do it as per your 10 commandments (tongue in cheek) will simply rot in hell.

    I have heard some positive stories of franchisees who are extremely happy. And the franshisor is pretty honourable.

    But even so, I have heard even the happy people grumble at centrally imposed activities that they could do without doing.

    I must admit, I’m still not sure on franchising our business. It really scares me putting it in the hands of someone else.

    In an ideal world, I’d want great franchisees and a national brand. But achieiving this in a way which makes the customer happy and everyone connected to them feels like quite a challenge!

    You’re in real danger of completely dissuading me from letting those thoughts of franchising becoming a reality.

    And maybe wisely!

  2. RacerX on January 6th, 2008 10:19 pm

    Great post. We have it in our 10-yr plan to buy part of a restaurant franchise…scary!

  3. Catherine Lawson on January 7th, 2008 3:01 am

    Sorry Ian - I don’t mean to put you off. Anyone who adopted the genius franchisors principles would have to be v egocentric, and I don’t think you can just become like that over night.

    To be honest, I think your worries are going to be the same whether you grow your business nationally as a managed operation or a franchise. Either way, you’re still going to have to put your trust in many other people.

    Growing a nationally recognised brand is something many people would love to do. But the truth is, many franchisors claim to have a nationally recognised brand, yet there are v few nationally recognised brands out there.

    Effective branding is difficult to achieve and the truth is - too many of them are just too damn boring.

    I hope you manage it, and I do think you have a chance going by some of the things you’re doing so far.

    RacerX - That is great. Restaurant franchises are v pricey, but I’m sure you’ll do your research well. And you do have many more choices over there than we do in the UK.

    And I would not advise anyone to open a restaurant from scratch without first having worked in one for a while, because so many things can go wrong.

  4. Mrs. Micah on January 8th, 2008 4:25 am

    I’m not detecting sarcasm at all. ;)

  5. cathlawson on January 8th, 2008 9:54 am
    Mrs M - Me - sarcastic? Never.
  6. Franchise Information on January 14th, 2008 2:57 pm

    A good tongue in cheek article which is sometimes so true.

    It is unfortunate that there is so many people jumping onto the bandwagon of franchises as a way of making money out generally bad business ideas.

    It always makes me cringe when I see the parade of people who approach the dragons on dragons den with franchising ideas. Most have never made any money - or ever will.

    They think that it is acceptable to charge someone £40k for a franchise that they will work 60 hours a week in and make £10k profit. The scary thing is they can set up a franchise and start selling without much trouble.

    Sometimes we forget that many franchisors do actually believe in their product or service. Unfortunately that is not enough. The marketplace needs to also.

  7. cathlawson on January 14th, 2008 10:05 pm
    Hi - I’ve removed the links to your site, as I don’t allow them on this blog for advertising purposes. And readers can check out the site via your signature. I’m sure it will be useful to those considering investing in a franchise.

    I understand what you say re: those franchisors setting up and selling without too much trouble.

    A friend of mine was recently recruited to sell franchises for a company which already has 17 franchisees. And after joining, he discovered that they have no system in place - and no manuals. In fact, he says as they stand now, he does not feel that he could actually legally sell any franchises for them in the state they are currently in.

    But he is struggling to get them to see that they need to make changes. Given that they have obviously already sold some of their areas, it really is quite shocking.

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  9. Jacqueline on July 1st, 2008 8:24 pm

    Excellent post Catherine. Whilst confident that it is tongue in cheek the sad truth is that there are many franchisors who behave like this and sometimes worst!

  10. cathlawson on July 1st, 2008 9:45 pm

    Hi Jacqueline - It’s scary isn’t it. I’ve heard some real horror stories. I even heard a tale about one franchisor who bragged that he didn’t care if each store didn’t make much profit, as he’d rather have hundreds of franchisees, each making him a small amount. It was like basically, he didn’t give a shit if the franchisee didn’t make much out of it at all.

  11. leo on July 17th, 2008 3:22 pm

    These 10 commandments aren’t necessarily tounge in cheek

    We have had a bad experience with a franchisor.
    After the initial salesman speech and rush to make us sign up , we had to part with a huge chunk of our savings.
    Subsequently the franchisor tried to sell us some of their other franchises which were making huge losses.

    We joined the franchise opportunity!! to make money from a business which the franchisor was going to help us start up, upto our specifications from scratch, Franchisor was happy to agree on everything verbally but as far as their contract was concerned -they issued us with a standard good for nothing contract telling us what our duties were as a franchicee..

    Thank you very much we dont need to pay you our money for you to be dictating us what we should be doing. Suprisingly their contract had very little to say about what are the duties of this franchisor(perhaps their duty ceases after they take all your money)

    Anyway the franchisor has gone mum since then and has refused to acknowledge any of our letters.

    We would like to make sure they don’t get away with this again in future with anyone else and will take legal action against them.

    Just a word of warning for investors -make sure you ask for everything in writing as some franchisors are very good at avoiding this.

    Don’t feel rushed or pressurised in signing up an agreement as once you have signed on the dotted line you can;t change anything in the contract.
    Try and see as many franchises as possible before considering to join as a franchisee.

    (Any suggesstions on how to get our money back would be grately appreciated)

  12. cathlawson on July 17th, 2008 11:36 pm

    Hi Leo - That sounds like a typical franchise agreement.

    Are you saying that you paid for the franchise and were not even able to begin trading - they just took your money?

    What country are you based in?

    Do feel free to email me if you don’t want to put too much detail in here. You can get the address from my contact section at the top of the page.

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