Want Franchise With That?

The Golden Age to Come

As organizations and programs for franchisees and franchisors began springing up, the franchises themselves became a greater part of the collective consciousness, further dispelling franchising's negative connotations. "In those days, there was a lot more skepticism, both from the public and prospective franchisees," says Tony DeSio, founder of Mail Boxes Etc. and Image Arts Etc. "As time has gone by, the public has come to embrace franchising because they're familiar with the successful franchises and brands. They know that, from one location to another, they can rely on product consistency."

While expanding nationally and internationally, franchises have continued to work on improving their business systems. "It's easier [for new franchisees to enter the system] now. They give you handbooks that tell you how to run your business so you don't have to come up with the context for construction and development on your own," explains Paul Sweeney, a Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, McDonald's franchisee who opened his first restaurant in 1973. "As an entrepreneur back in the '70s, most of that didn't exist. We needed to do all that developing."

Just as franchisees and franchisors worked together over past years to build their systems, these same people will continue to collaborate in order to strengthen franchising without outside involvement in the 21st century. "I see franchisees veering away from a dangerous path that was unnecessary," says Kaufmann. "I think the death of the 2oth century also led to the death of more radical calls for the federal regulation of franchising on a substantive basis."

Even with all the changing and growing that franchising has done over the past 25 years, many believe we've only just scratched the surface of what franchising can potentially achieve. "If you look in the rearview mirror at the past 25 years and see the tremendous success of franchising, that's just a glimpse of what the future will be," DeBolt says. "I truly believe that, as we see more and more globalization, franchising will play an even more significant role with its ability to create jobs and personal wealth."

DeBolt also predicts that franchising's powerful influence will ultimately stretch far beyond just the way the world eats and shops. "Franchising will probably make a larger contribution to world peace," he says, "than any diplomatic mission or military action."

MINORITY LEAGUE

While franchisors plot their expansion, they have recently set their sights abroad. C. Everett Wallace, however, is urging them to reconsider their plans and not to underestimate the power of burgeoning domestic markets.

Wallace, co-director of the National Minority Franchise Initiative, believes that over the next 25 years, franchising can play an important role in revitalizing and reshaping urban communities and minority neighborhoods. "The advantage of franchising, without question, is not only do you have a proven brand and proven system, but you also have the opportunity for that [system] to be owned by somebody who is locally based," he explains. "That's critically important in rebuilding the community overall because you're really building from within."

And as minority populations change, it becomes essential not only for the franchise communities, but also for the franchises themselves to promote an increase in minority ownership. "Minority franchising is going to have to expand just by the sheer demographics," Wallace says. "In all probability, your customer base is going to be a minority customer base, and logic dictates that you should have someone who looks like your customer owning that business."

Contact Sources

  • American Association of Franchisees
    (800) 733-9858, http://www.aafd.org
  • Image Arts Etc.
    (760) 806-8070
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This article was originally published in the May 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Want Franchise With That?.

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