Are franchisees really getting the short end of the stick?


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We do not believe so! What prompts us to ask this question, however, is an article that appeared in Business Day on 3 July 2006. Under the heading: “Bomb work in Iraq is tough; so, too, is being a Shoprite franchisee in South Africa”, columnist Rob Rose reports on the trials and tribulations of an ex-Shoprite franchisee who had been involved in the ill-fated 8-Till-Late franchise during the 1990’s. To make his story more interesting, Rose refers to other ‘deals allegedly gone sour’ as well but the main thrust revolves around the 8-Till-Late saga.

According to Rose, the 8-Till-Late franchise was an unmitigated disaster, and available evidence seems to support his contention. He conducted a telephone interview with an ex-franchisee who is now working in Iraq, checking cars for explosives. This individual claims that he had no other option because he lost a large sum of money in the Shoprite deal.

What both he and Rose seem to overlook is that franchising is a tool, nothing more and nothing less. Before investing in a tool, especially if it is an expensive one, and/or one that involves close cooperation with others, any reasonable person will do at least three things:

1. Examine the quality of the tool and make sure that he or she has the necessary aptitude and interest to use it to best effect.

2. Learn everything there is to know about using the tool, and the environment within which it will be used.

3. Investigate the organisational culture prevailing in the group he or she is about to join, to ensure culture fit.

Had our explosives expert followed these simple rules, he may have found out, for example, that the tool had not been properly tested, or that the sector was not right for him.

Failing to do this is inexcusable. Even back in the 1990’s, expert literature on how to evaluate a franchise opportunity was available. Today, whichfranchise.co.za offers information on franchising and/or access to experts on franchise related queries’ all free of charge!

To condemn franchising, which has put more people into business and created more wealth than other concept before it because an individual failed to do his homework is akin to pouring out the baby with the bathwater. One can only conclude that Rose is not familiar with the way franchising works. This may be forgivable but failing to balance the tenor of his article by obtaining expert commentary on franchising is not.

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