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The Misconceptions of the Value Of Disclosures in Franchising
Disclosure laws in franchising are suppose to help the consumer. They don't. The FTC, which over sees franchising has in fact created a rule, which makes 5 lb. Disclosure documents for franchise buyers, which is so huge that no one ever reads it. I know when I personally meet a franchise buyer whose application form is approved and hand them a UFOC, Uniform Franchise Offering Circular with attachments and watch their jaw drop and then their hand drop when they clutch it in their hands (due to the weight of the 155 to 200 pages), I see a blank look. I apologize every time for my unreasonable government and the US legal system for the rules.
I tell them it is to protect them and put up my shoulders and they usually say something like "Yah Right." A franchise buyer who wants to buy a franchise is not going to read and expect to understand every clause, nor are most franchisors going to enforce every clause. You can't, you would not have any franchisees left. There are too many laws in franchising and too much regulation. Many times a franchise buyer will ask me, "What the hell does this have to do with washing cars?" I really cannot answer what I really think, I would launch into a tirade that would last four hours full of more examples than I care to write in this brief letter. I could write a book over disclosure and franchise law.
The fact is that we are a mobile car wash franchise for the most part and that is a relatively easy and simple business. As much as the professionals care to argue to the contrary, all these disclosure laws just are not needed. Neither is all this regulation and surely not anymore than already exists. You can sit and argue why the rules and all the laws are necessary, but you will never convince myself or franchise buyer of it. Has anyone stepped away from the box long enough to see how absurd this is? Are we all so engulfed in the words of the statues and rules that we cannot see what we are doing. Forcing some businesses into the franchising model that should not be there, forcing the square peg where it does not fit.
Half the time it appears we have lost site of the peg and it has found itself in a place where the sun don't shine. Thank you for keeping it safe for us, but really the FTC does not need to go that far. There are enough rules, and rules about rules and findings about rules, and opinions about rules. We should tread lightly, before we make more rules. We should look at all the consequences of the rules we make and try to find fault with the rules we already have. The FTC can spend time debating which rules to axe rather than which rules to enact. This will definitely keep them busy, and it puts them in the distinct position of being part of the solution instead of the problem.
The consumer does not really want any more barriers to buying a franchise. They do not like the 10-day waiting period, which ends up half a month with holidays. They do not want to go through a long sales process. They want instant gratification and they want to start their new career/business and embark on their new chosen lifestyle. All these regulations have complicated the issue and made it tougher to buy franchises, all to the frustration of the consumer. Tell me did anyone ever take a survey of the sales process and large documents of existing franchisees and ask them what they think of the whole mess, which has been created to supposedly help them? NO, of course not. Yet, I cannot think of a franchisor, which does not constantly survey their end users of the franchised outlet for the desires and events leading to a sale of goods or services and on all those surveys they always ask the same things. Did you feel that all your questions were answered, were you happy with the buying process, were your needs met, etc.?
Why doesn't the FTC ask real franchise owners what they think of all the paperwork, large documents and rules. Simply taking the information from lobbyist groups of franchisee advocate rabble-rousers will not do it. Taking Internet complaints will not do it. Ask the actual franchisees already in the systems, the good franchisees, which follow the system. By making more rules the FTC is actually hurting the franchisees, lengthening the documents. This causes new case law, more stipulations and boiler-plate phrases all adding to the length and complexity of the documents, agreements and buying process. Thus causing another law or rule to follow after circumstances unanticipated show their heads over issues of previous rules. And would you look at all this has created now? Whheeewwweee? Think about it.
"Lance Winslow" - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs
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