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An American Icon

Culture

Because franchises are so widespread in America and franchisors primarily hail from the United States, the concept is tightly stitched into the fabric of our lives and our culture. The fact that a meal can be made and given to us in a matter of minutes or that an oil change can be done in half an hour has reinforced our desire for instant gratification, which has become a cultural phenomenon. It's a phenomenon that has resulted from a need to provide services in the best, most efficient manner.

"By their very nature, franchises need to standardize to realize cost efficiencies. The very elaborate and rigorous systems that some of these companies are developing have benefited consumers in ways they don't even realize," says Solomon. "[People] criticize McDonald's, but the reality is they're able to deliver food products [conveniently and economically] because of the economies of scale and standardization of their whole supply chain."

The vast array of franchises has supplied our society with products and services that have led us to expect the best. "Franchising always creates a level or standard of service, quality and pricing that benefits the consumers," asserts DeBolt. "Time after time, when franchising has come into a field of endeavor, no matter what industry, there just seems to be a new level of efficiency and competitiveness. And the consumers win. They get better products, better prices, and usually more choice and selection." This allure has contributed to the spread of some of these franchises abroad, exporting a touch of our culture to theirs and offering a glimpse of what life is like here.

Franchising has changed the landscape of our nation and affected us in a myriad of ways. A permanent institution, it grows stronger with each passing year. While some people may only be patrons of franchises, others will find their dream businesses in franchising. The power of brand has taken hold in America, and whether it's the golden arches or any other franchise emblem, we recognize and identify them as part of our world.

"It's certainly a symbol of our economic structure," says DeBolt. "I really, truly believe deep in my heart, franchising will do more for world peace than anything because it creates jobs and economic stability, two of the most essential components [for peace]. It's not credited enough for accomplishing what it has. Many people think of franchising in more personal terms of how franchising can benefit them, and [they] simply don't realize this truly incredible impact franchising has on the peace and prosperity of this world we live in. Where else can we find a job creator, an economic growth stimulator and a personal wealth creator that gives [people] the opportunity to realize their dreams and financial security for their families beyond their wildest expectations? Franchising is something everyone can have a stake in, one way or another."

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This article was originally published in the January 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: An American Icon.

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