A franchise (or franchising) is a method of distributing products or services involving a franchisor, who establishes the brand’s trademark or trade name and a business system, and a franchisee, who pays a royalty and often an initial fee for the right to do business under the franchisor’s name and system. Technically, the contract binding the two parties is the “franchise,” but that term more commonly refers to the actual business that the franchisee operates. The practice of creating and distributing the brand and franchise system is most often referred to as franchising.
There are two different types of franchising relationships. Business Format Franchising is the type most identifiable. In a business format franchise, the franchisor provides to the franchisee not just its trade name, products and services, but an entire system for operating the business. The franchisee generally receives site selection and development support, operating manuals, training, brand standards, quality control, a marketing strategy and business advisory support from the franchisor. While less identified with franchising, traditional or product distribution franchising is larger in total sales than business format franchising. Examples of traditional or product distribution franchising can be found in the bottling, gasoline, automotive and other manufacturing industries.
When selecting a franchise system to invest in, you want to evaluate the types of support you will be provided and how well the franchisor is managing the evolution of the products and services so that it keeps up with changing consumer expectations. Some of the more common services that franchisors provide to franchisees include:
You want to select a franchisor that routinely and effectively enforces system standards. This is important to you as enforcement of brand standards by the franchisor is meant to protect franchisees from the possible bad acts of other franchisees that share the brand with them. Since customers see franchise systems as a branded chain of operations, great products and services delivered by one franchisee benefits the entire system. The opposite is also true.