The more franchising changes, the more it remains the same. Just ask Eugene O. Getchell, a franchise consultant in Lexington, Kentucky, who has observed the evolution of franchising since 1968, when he joined the company that later franchised Long John Silver's.
"The relationship in the beginning was more of a strict relationship, with franchisors taking a very hard line on franchise relations," says Getchell. And understandably so. "The franchise concept demands that you stick to strict discipline," he says. "That's what has made franchising so valuable."
But those relationships have developed along with the concept, and franchisors, says Getchell, have grown to see the relationship as more reciprocal.
What does he see for the future? The explosion of global opportunities seems to have franchisors eager--perhaps overeager--to establish franchises overseas.
"The global market is a romantic thing; it can turn your head," says Getchell. "We're certainly headed for the global marketplace, and franchising is and will be a big part of that market; however, franchisors need to do their homework in this country first. There's a time to go [overseas], and that's when you have all your bases covered in the United States."
Whether they go abroad or stay at home, wise franchisors will learn from the past, says Getchell. He believes the most important concepts in franchising haven't changed in 20 years: fairness and common sense. "We all rode our own little dinghies to get into this," says Getchell. "Now we've got to row the big boat together."