Just how much will the Internet change franchising? Only the future will tell, but some experts predict the number and quality of franchisor Web sites will surely increase. On the other hand, there are some franchisors who are dissatisfied with their Web sites. And some franchise companies have even resorted to posting the warning "serious inquiries only" to decrease the amount of "looky-loo" e-mail messages sent to their sites.
Still, many franchisors on the Web see great promise in the Internet. McKinnon, for one, wants to use the Internet to provide remote training. New franchisees could learn to use the franchisor's software by attending an online training course. In the next five years, McKinnon envisions using desktop videoconferencing over the Internet to keep in touch with international franchisees, discuss franchise contracts and conduct meetings.
In addition, other franchisors say they plan to enhance their Internet offerings by e-mailing franchisees periodically with company news and sending prospective franchisees electronic versions of company materials.
"If you polled all the franchise companies on the Internet, overall they'd probably say that the jury is still out," concedes Haskell. "We really haven't seen how much the Internet is going to change [franchising] at this point."