Back many years ago, I met a fellow franchisor, he’d built a nice company with 250 franchisees which operated Kiosks in shopping malls – you know those carts in malls that sell various wares. What he did was make each Kiosk its own business, at first as “independent contractors” but later as Franchisees due to the Franchise Law rules. Each franchisee had to sign a two-year franchise agreement with non-automatic renewal, where the Franchisor could merely take over the business, location, as he already had the lease-space agreement with the malls, including the corporations that owned many malls around the country.
After two years, he stopped renewing franchise agreements, took control of all those little businesses, and then sold the whole thing and retired a very wealthy man. Unfortunately, many of the independent contractors, turned into Franchisees were forced out after building up their businesses and providing a substantial amount of goodwill. The franchisor’s concept was built by the blood, sweat and tears of all those individuals, who did make decent money in the meantime, but were then basically terminated when their franchise agreement term ended.
Recently, there is an interesting company in the “Handy Man” sector which has a franchise agreement that states it may unilaterally buy back the franchisee’s business at any time after 2-years of operating. In the Franchisor’s option to purchase there is a mathematical formula for valuation of the Franchisee’s business that negate the value of any “goodwill” and allows the Franchisee to choose if he will see at “Fair Market Value” of assets (used equipment, office furniture) or twice the earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization (EBITA).
Why would a Franchise Buyer buy a franchise like that? I suppose there might be a few situations where it makes sense for instance, the Franchisee just needs a couple of years of income and believes they can build up a good “book” of business, and if it starts to go South, the Franchisor may buy him/her out and they can move on, less risk? But what if the Franchisor chooses not to buy and the business fails? What if the business succeeds wildly and the Franchisee is forced to sell-out a thriving and growing business?
If you think about it, it is a brilliant strategy for a Franchisor, have others build your business, take all the risks, and if they succeed, you terminate their franchise agreement instead of renewal, and if they fail, you simply let them fail, then sell that territory to a new franchisee, until one succeeds and then you just keep winning and building on the backs of others. As a franchisee buyer it may be wise to recognize such strategies and be weary of them, unless it serves your temporary purpose of a short term business and solid temporary cash flow based on your abilities and the Franchisor’s model. Think on this.