Stephen Frenkel of Mediation Works Inc. in Boston

Stephen Frenkel of Mediation Works Inc. in Boston

Letter to the Editor of the Boston Globe by Stephen Frenkel director of negotiation programs at MWI. Stephen will be speaking at the New England Franchise Association’s November 17th meeting. Click here for more information.

Dear Boston Globe Editor:

THE BENEFITS of owning a franchise are made clear in “Buying into a franchise can take uncertainty out of getting started’’ (Business, Oct. 11). But, based on our experience at Mediation Works Inc. with franchises, potential hazards inherent in these businesses should also be addressed.

A clear picture should be portrayed so that prospective franchisees can accurately assess the investment.

First, while franchise owners “own’’ their business, they answer to the franchisor, who can demand changes, such as renovations or new fees, without input from franchisees.

Some franchisors have more franchisee-friendly terms than others. For example, how are major changes handled? Are the terms fair to both parties?

Second, what are business relationships like with other franchisees? How are disagreements handled? Franchises represent the epitome of long-term working relationships. Differences must be worked out in a collaborative, respectful manner. Conflict or lawsuits between parties locked together over the long term can turn ugly.

Owning a franchise business may seem like a great opportunity with support and low risk, and often it is.

Potential franchisees, however, should read the fine print and research the history and climate of the company and its relationships.

Stephen Frenkel
The writer is director of negotiation programs at MWI.