The following was my response to a recent post on Franchise Pick. The post was about franchisor, Curves International, and its actions when one of its franchisees fails and shuts down its location.
Joel Libava, The Franchise King, posted a question today on Twitter about whether or not a business plan is important when considering a franchise opportunity. My response was a firm yes, but the plan must include an exit strategy. That exit strategy must include a plan for predetermined events like retirement, as well as unforeseen events usually as a result of poor sales, employee theft, mismanagement, etc.
Unfortunately, it’s human nature only to look at the positives of a relationship, personal or business. How many couples avoid the issue of prenuptial agreements because they don’t want to start off on the wrong foot? Maybe they feel it will jinx their relationship or provide an out to the party not willing to work at the relationship? The same is certainly true in the franchise arena. However, in both cases, it is prudent to look at the potential downside and have all the issues outlined ahead of time. If nothing else, at least it keeps everyone focused on the potential consequences of failure. Something that may provide them even more incentive to succeed. I mean it is easier to fail, than it is to succeed!
In the case of franchisee failure, there’s no way it can possibly be a surprise to anyone. Trends become evident and it would take a tremendous amount of shear stupidity and ignorance for anyone to believe a franchise location closing is a surprise. I guess we could chalk it up to the “head in the sand” scenario?
My recommendation to franchisees and franchisors alike is to have a business plan in place at the beginning, complete with an exit strategy. Understand your mutual obligations upon termination. Communicate, communicate and communicate all the way from franchise disclosure to franchise closure. Notice the only thing missing is “dis.” To use the street slang of “dis”, make sure you don’t dis communications, don’t dis obligations, and don’t dis responsibility. For anyone that doesn’t know what dis means, it’s most easily defined as “ignoring and/or disrespecting.”
My advice to franchisees, don’t get all starry-eyed at your partner like you’re in love. Realize it’s a business relationship and make sure all parties to the agreement, including yourself, live up to their obligations. Further, when trouble is on the horizon, do not, I repeat, do not put your head in the sand. Keep in mind that when your head is in the sand, your most vulnerable ass-et, is exposed to the entire world to take advantage of.
To the Curves franchisor I say “Shame on you as you tarnish the good name of franchising and all the franchise bretheren because of your greed, unprofessionalism and lack of common, decent care for individuals. The very individuals that trusted you to take them to the altar.”