Don Sniegowski of BlueMauMau reports that there is a seismic shift under way in how franchisees approach balance in franchisee/franchisor relationships. It is a multi-pronged strategy headed by the three-year-old Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA) that utilizes market forces, collective bargaining and possible legislation.
The start of the shift took place just last month in a dimly lit conference room. Franchisee leaders from some of the country’s most recognized brand names convened in one of the many rooms at Marriott’s Orlando World Conference Center to hammer out a universal bill of rights draft for franchisees.
It may have a profound effect down the road.
America’s franchisees currently face sizable problems. They struggle for the freedom to associate with other owner-operators in independent franchisee associations. Members fear termination or retaliation by a franchisor for hanging out with the wrong crowd. Store owners want territorial protection against a competing company store or a franchise opening next door, causing lost business and turning his store unprofitable. Franchisees also want audited disclosures on vendor kickbacks. Kickbacks from a vendor to a franchisor can significantly raise the price of goods to franchisees, and they are typically undisclosed. They act as a hidden royalty fee. These are a few protections out of 13 in a bill of rights that has been drafted for restaurateurs, hoteliers, convenience store operators, quick printing owners and all manner of franchisees, no matter what the industry.
“The bill of rights was a huge step forward for us,” declares Dave Glodowski of the vote in support of the bill at the Orlando meeting. As chairman of the Coalition of Franchisee Associations and himself a multi-unit owner of Hardee’s quick service restaurants in Minnesota, Glodowski says that the franchisee coalition has been gaining traction. The CFA already represents store owners in such giant chains as Subway, Burger King, Hardee’s, Meineke Car Care, Supercuts, Dunkin’ Donuts and others. Last year the Little Caesars franchisee association joined. This year the giant Asian American Hotel Owners Association signed on.
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