Franchising is a model for doing business. When you enter a franchise agreement, the franchisor controls the name, brand and business system you are going to use. The franchisor grants you the right to operate a business in line with its system, usually for a set period of time. There is no guarantee you will be able to keep your franchise business after the initial period of the agreement ends.
Franchisors and franchisees must comply with the Franchising Code of Conduct, which exists under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, as well as consumer and company laws. The Franchising Code sets out minimum requirements for a franchisor to provide specific information to you. A franchise agreement, once entered into, is a legally binding contract that sets out the terms of the franchise.
Why consider franchising?
A franchise can offer particular benefits over other types of businesses. For example, franchises may have an established product or service and an existing reputation and image. It may also give you access to the franchisor’s experience and knowledge in the industry, planning, marketing skills and operating procedures. Some franchise systems provide support, some do not.
You should carefully think about whether the franchise system you are considering suits your business experience, skills and needs.
Understanding the franchising relationship
Two important features of franchising are that the franchisor has established the business system you are using and that most franchise systems rely on each franchise maintaining consistency. For those reasons, franchisees are usually required to strictly comply with the operating procedures set down by the franchisor. As a result, you may be limited in the changes you can make to the franchise system without the agreement of the franchisor.
You will usually also be bound by confidentiality obligations. This includes limits on your rights to use the franchisor’s intellectual property or business system outside the franchise.
Most businesses adjust to meet changes in the market. The franchisor might make changes to the franchise system at any time but does not have to discuss them with all franchisees.