Certainly such recent events as the landmark case Vylene vs. Naugles, which sided with franchisees on encroachment issues, and the new streamlined Uniform Franchise Offering Circular requirements have had obvious effects on the state of franchising. But there's another force subtly reshaping the industry--from the way entrepreneurs investigate franchises to how existing franchisees operate and grow their businesses. That force? The Internet.
Some may be surprised to discover leak detection and housecleaning franchisors setting up shop on the World Wide Web alongside the likes of Microsoft and Coca-Cola, but franchisors of all kinds are flocking to the Web today. For some, establishing a Web site has created an easy, affordable way to disseminate information and market products and services. Many franchisors are using e-mail to communicate with their franchisees. Still others are reaching potential franchise buyers around the world through the Internet.
With such obvious potential, it's no wonder there are some 350 franchise Web sites and counting. "From the franchisor's perspective, you simply have to have a presence on the Web," asserts Calvin Haskell, president of Franchise Solutions Information Services, a franchise consulting firm in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.