Buying a Franchise
By: Kevin B. Murphy, Franchise Attorney, MBA - Mr. Franchise

WHAT STANDARDS MUST A FRANCHISE COMPANY MEET
TO SELL FRANCHISES;
ARE THERE ANY REQUIREMENTS TO FRANCHISE A BUSINESS?

Incredibly, the answer is - none. There are no minimum standards or requirements to franchise a business except preparing a Franchise Offering Circular. It's yet another bizarre reality in the world of franchising. 

You and I could have no background in any business, form a new corporation or LLC, capitalize it with only $1, put together a Franchise Disclosure Document and file it with any franchise registration state. While the offering may be subject to an impound or escrow requirement because of the low capitalization ($1), we’d still get “registered” and be able to sell as many franchisees as we want. 

In these 14 franchise registration states, we may not be able to receive any money until each franchise actually opened, but simply posting a bond would alleviate this difficulty in the franchise registration states. And in the vast majority of states there are no franchise registration laws, so we’d be able to sell franchises and collect fees with impunity once we compiled our Franchise Offering Circular. The federal FTC Franchise Rule doesn’t protect against this risk either – it only requires disclosure (i.e. provide a Franchise Disclosure Document) and has no registration component or minimum standards for franchise companies. 

Basic investor protections and requirements found in both federal and state securities laws for over 50 years were never carried over to franchise investments. While most non-blue chip franchise companies could never even qualify to sell you a single share of stock in their company, they are entirely free to collect unlimited franchise fees, ongoing royalties, equipment and other purchases, as well as cause you to incur financial obligations totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions in some cases. This isn’t information you’re likely to find in the glowing articles about franchising and franchise companies prevalent in the media.  

CLOSING REMARKS 
Remember, you are the only guardian when it comes to your franchise investment. It’s definitely an environment where the phrase “Buyer Beware” applies. So, before you sign on the line and make what will undoubtedly be the most serious financial and emotional commitment of your life, get all the facts and figures. 

One couple I counseled after-the-fact, invested $2 million in a new franchise company. The contract they signed gave them no right to terminate, no matter what the franchise company did or didn’t do. Of course, the contract gave the franchise company unlimited termination ability, a right it had exercised. The franchise company’s management team had no one with experience in running a franchise company. Incredibly, the couple had not spent a dime on legal or business advice before investing $2 million. The once friendly franchise company had transformed into a formidable foe and was poised to take over their franchise. Sadly, this happens too frequently in franchise investments. Decisions are made on fuzzy feelings and emotionalism. In an effort to save a couple thousand dollars, franchise investors risk homes, retirement savings, everything they have. Then they scratch their heads in amazement later on after inevitable and often horrific problems develop, wondering how they could have been so nearsighted. 

Another indispensable level of inquiry is whether you’re getting true franchise value and whether you’d be better off doing the business on your own. In the overwhelming majority of franchises touted by unknown companies, franchise value isn’t there and doing the same thing independently makes better economic sense and actually decreases the risk of failure. 

Finally, and this applies to franchise investments as well as investing in any business venture, develop a plan to succeed but also plan a franchise exit strategy that minimizes financial risk in case things don't work out. Both plans need to be thought through before the investment is made. Don't wait until problems develop to start thinking about a franchise exit strategy - by then it's usually too little, too late.  

For more information, visit the Franchise Foundations Website:
http://www.franchisefoundations.com/franchiseattorney.html  

© 1990-2008, Kevin B. Murphy, B.S., M.B.A., J.D. - all rights reserved

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/ask-an-expert-articles/buying-a-franchise-evaluating-franchise-investments-and-franchise-disclosure-documents-tips-from-a-franchise-expert-and-franchise-attorney-460238.html

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About the Author: Known in the industry as Mr. Franchise, Mr. Murphy is an internationally-known franchise attorney, franchise expert, author, and instructor. For the past twenty-eight years he has specialized exclusively in the franchise industry and owned a very successful franchise in the home improvement field.

He has written over 30 publications, including four books on franchising and one book on trade secrets. Mr. Franchise has drafted, reviewed and negotiated more than 500 franchise offering circulars and instructs franchise company personnel in best franchise practices. He also teaches franchise, licensing and intellectual property courses to attorneys. Mr. Franchise is a franchise attorney and Director of Operations for Franchise Foundations a San Francisco-based professional law corporation.


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