Blogs Provide Insight to Would-Be Franchisees

WikiFranchise.org. Among the newest franchise sites — it was launched earlier this month — is WikiFranchise.org, a takeoff on the popular Wikipedia concept. The site invites contributions from franchisees on their experiences. One recent entry recounted a Maryland couple's marathon dispute with a coffee-shop franchiser. The site, which is updated daily, features a convenient search capability by franchise brand. A search under "Burger King," for instance, turned up more than 60 items, some from as far back as 2001.

The Wall Street Journal
March 24, 2009

Blogs Provide Insight to Would-Be Franchisees
Sites Offer News, Comments, Updates on the Happenings at Other Businesses; Complaints Are Welcome Too
Richard Gibson

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Would-be franchisees searching for investment ideas can find a bevy of information on franchising blogs.

Such sites offer news, advice and comments by people already in those franchise businesses - giving others a head's up on what to watch for and how to proceed.

For example, the Franchise Pundit blog reports that sandwich franchiser Quiznos is helping its franchisees renegotiate their store leases, resulting in an average 15% to 20% reduction, at no cost to them.

Here's a look at some blogs:

Blue MauMau (www.bluemaumau.com). With its breaking news, original interviews with franchisers, opinion forums and a legal-events reporter who writes about cases of interest to the franchising community, Blue MauMau is a must for keeping current on what's happening in the world of franchising. Named for a Polynesian fish that protects itself from predators by swimming in large schools — creator Dan Sniegowski thought that a metaphor for franchisees — the site is one of a few with regular independent contributors.

To help cover costs, Mr. Sniegowski accepts advertisements, although he insists they don't influence his content. "If I ever cross [readers], at a click of a button they would go elsewhere and wouldn't come back," he says.

Franchise-Chat (www.franchise-chat.com). This site has a world view, gathering information from around the globe and sorting it by country. Callum Floyd, the site's creator, does little original reporting, but collects articles from various publications, which are archived for as long as a decade. Besides franchisers' press releases, the site also publishes advice from contributing experts on how and why — or why not — to buy a franchise. There also are links to franchise associations and online magazines.

Mr. Floyd, a New Zealand-based franchise-development consultant who created the site in 1999, updates the site weekly.

The Franchise Pundit (franchisepundit.com). Ryan M. Knoll, managing attorney at the Franchise Law Center in Chicago, is among a handful of franchising lawyers who regularly blog about the industry. Mr. Knoll presides over the Franchise Pundit, frequently opining on whether a franchise seems worth buying. "More often than not I would say 'No,' " he says.

Besides occasional original reporting — a recent piece looked at how the economy was affecting franchiser Potbelly Sandwich Works — Mr. Knoll excerpts pieces from other publications. The site doesn't accept ads because Mr. Knoll says he was "concerned about remaining totally unbiased."

Rush On Business (www.rushonbusiness.com). A more regional blog is Rush On Business, the handiwork of West Des Moines, Iowa, lawyer Rush Nigut, who features developments affecting small business in his state. Mr. Nigut's site also addresses generic issues such as researching a franchise opportunity and how partnerships work — information that people in other states might find useful.

Picking up on a recent local newspaper article about fitness franchises, Mr. Nigut tells his readers that "the competition is fierce and…profitability in this market with a fitness franchise gym is often a tough task to achieve." He doesn't accept ads, but acknowledges that the blog attracts clients.

Unhappy Franchisee (www.unhappyfranchisee.com). Franchisees with gripes about their business can post them at this Web site, run by multisite blogger Sean Kelly. The site sorts anonymous concerns and complaints by brand.

Mr. Kelly says he was put off by the promotional hype he had read in the franchise trade press about numerous concepts. "Almost nobody was writing anything bad," he says, "and I wanted to give those with negative experiences a voice." The site encourages visitors to post closures of franchises in their communities.

WikiFranchise.org. Among the newest franchise sites — it was launched earlier this month — is WikiFranchise.org, a takeoff on the popular Wikipedia concept. The site invites contributions from franchisees on their experiences. One recent entry recounted a Maryland couple's marathon dispute with a coffee-shop franchiser.

The site, which is updated daily, features a convenient search capability by franchise brand. A search under "Burger King," for instance, turned up more than 60 items, some from as far back as 2001.

Write to Richard Gibson at moc.senojwod|nosbig.kcid#moc.senojwod|nosbig.kcid

Comments

1. Michael Webster Wrote:

Good list, Richard. For people looking for critical reviews of franchising, there are a couple of other sites worth looking at.

Richard A. Solomon's website, Franchise Remedies, at http://www.franchiseremedies.com/. There are a lot of great articles at Richard's site, and he is a prolific poster at Blue Mau Mau.

For a quirky view of the psychology of choice, franchising and law, people might also like my own site, The BizOp News at http://bizop.ca.

Finally, I would also recommend Les Stewart's FranchiseFool, at http://lesstewart.wordpress.com/ and also Sean Kelly's Franchise Pick at http://www.bizzia.com/franchisepick/.

2. FAYAZ KARIM Wrote:

I thought I would add my 2 cents worth here. I would caution readers who visit these blog sites to look at both sides of the scenario; many franchisees are unhappy with their particular brand choice and even more are very happy, but you rarely visit the positive blog sites. They are largely silent.
AS a Subway franchise specialist I have heard both sides of the Subway story and regularly post these on my site. This is one of the most successful franchises in US Franchise history and has made many millionaires and by and large franchisees are very happy now that it has matured and sales have essentially "gone through the roof". Yet it has produced many miserable stories in its wake and some used to call it the worst Franchisee abuser in their midst. WE have to listen to both sides to be unbiased, don't we?

www.mrfranchiseman.com, Subway specialist

3. Brandon ray Robertson Wrote:

Difference between Network Marketing and Franchising? The concepts are actually very similar and I have compared them many times in my day, specifically to individuals who seemed to be a little ignorant towards MLM. But after further review, and an experience in my home based business with a […} http://tr.im/pnYk

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB123784624851718185


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