The National Franchise Council (NFC) took one step forward in its quest to turn franchisors and franchisees away from litigation and toward mediation. This spring, state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer made New York the first of 12 states with franchise regulation to adopt the NFC's education process. Now the NFC's goal is to get the other states on board.
As it stands, if a franchisor commits a minor violation of the New York Franchise Act (for example, not upholding the disclosure requirement), the franchisor can go through NFC retraining in franchise sales practices rather than endure an enforcement proceeding and its consequences. "This shows franchisors are willing to step up to the plate to solve problems and cooperate with regulatory agencies, whether it's on a federal or state level," says NFC chair Morton Aronson.
New York franchisees benefit in several ways: Besides being able to mediate disputes with franchisors, they essentially receive better disclosure documents from re-educated franchisors, and can save time and money by dealing with the NFC as opposed to state agencies or the Federal Trade Commission (with which the NFC has a similar partnership).
So far, the program's future looks bright. "More state governments are starting to think outside the box and recognize they can work creatively with the private sector to effectuate public policy goals," says NFC executive director Neil Simon. Word on the street is that partnerships from additional regulatory states could arise in the near future.
Giving peace to grieving families
Laying to rest the concerns of families in mourning has brought Philip G. Haddad Jr., 54, satisfaction far greater than any monetary compensation could provide. A funeral director for 30-plus years, Haddad founded Westborough, Massachusetts-based Westland Perpetual Trust Inc. in 1987. The company contracts with the families of the deceased to maintain and beautify cemetery plots for a minimum of 25 years. Earlier this year, Haddad decided to expand nationally and is currently seeking representatives.
His nearly 20 representatives in 15 major U.S. cities serve as the sales and marketing force and help families decide on one of four maintenance plans, while Westland's corporate office ensures the quality of the actual upkeep. "Our representatives don't need bereavement experience," says Haddad, "but they need to be compassionate, with a high energy level and a drive to assist [grieving] families."
A $300 investment covers necessary materials and training, and taps into Westland's well-established reputation with big-name banks and other sources for client referrals, including attorneys, trust officers, funeral directors, florists and monument dealers.
To become a representative, be prepared to undergo a careful selection process. As Haddad says, "We [work with] a family for a minimum of 25 years, [so we] become like a trusted family member to just about every family we serve."
By Fabiola A. Escobar
Santa Ana, California-based Winchell's Donut House is aggressively seeking franchisees of other fast-food concepts--whether local, regional or national--to expand the Winchell's name with a dual brand-partnering agreement. Lou Franson, vice president of brand management for privately owned Winchell's, says dual-partnering offers accelerated growth for both brands. "Dual-partnering allows the brands to expand without the hassle of negotiating lease agreements or building sites, which may take months [or even] longer," he explains. Depending on the market, start-up costs begin at $20,000.
Westland Perpetual Trust Inc., (800) 622-0772, fax: (508) 836-2601