CHILDREN’S ORCHARD: A Failing Marriage?

zuma-press-appleTell her you love her each day / You’ll make her happy that way.
A simple “I love you” means more than money,
And with a kiss or two her life is sunny. Frank Sinatra

Franchisors:  Have you hugged your franchisee today?
The franchisor-franchisee relationship is often compared to marriage.  Like a marriage, the courtship shouldn’t end once the deal is consummated.  Franchisors who allow themselves to lapse into complacency or indifference do so at their own risk.  Franchisors who are abusive or who get caught cheating on their franchisees (with new concepts or unrelated profit centers) may learn that hell hath no fury like a franchisee scorned.

Children’s Orchard:  One-time lovers become orch-enemies

Have you been following the reality-show-like domestic drama of Children’s Orchard over at UnhappyFranchisee.com?  The CO franchisees are definitely not feeling the love.  They claim their spouse (CEO Taylor Bond) never says “I love you” and is imposing unreasonable demands and restrictions.  He’s distant, cold, doesn’t care about their feelings.  What’s worse: they claim he’s been unfaithful, chasing the pretty skirts of younger, flashy franchise ventures while the franchisees are stuck home with the kids (kid’s clothing, actually).

According to WakeUp’s comment on a post on Taylor Bond:

Here’s what I see: The Children’s Orchard franchisees love their chain, love their brand, and some (TOC) are willing to fight for it. Taylor Bond has consistently shown he is not committed to the brand or the growth of the system. Since he bought CO, his focus is always elsewhere and he has wasted massive time, energy and resources on wild goose chases.

Bond bought the chain in 2004 “Under Mr. Bond’s leadership, the number of stores has declined steadily from 86 in 2004, to 77 in 2007, to 71 in 2008, and to 61 in 2009.”

Press releases on Bison tell the story. http://www.bison.com/press_egismoz_01122006, http://www.bison.com/press_egismoz_03092006

In 2005 Taylor diverted his energy into the lamebrain egismoz franchise concept. He hired an upper level exec, ad agencies, pr firms, did commercials. He launched egismoz in 2006. It was an embarrassing failure and the investment was squandered. Meanwhile CO franchisees failed.

Instead of putting energy and resources into CO, he acquired Newcomer’s Welcome Service and plowed energy and resources into that. According to a press release at http://www.bison.com/press_NewcomersWelcomeService_04182007:

“Since purchasing Newcomers Welcome Service late last year, Bond’s corporate team has been busy refining and documenting Newcomers business systems, creating marketing and support programs, and developing a suite of customized, web-based business software that allows franchisees to manage leads, schedule home visits, support representatives, and invoice sponsors.”
He launched the Newcomer’s Welcome Service in 2007. Nothing happened but silence and more squandered investment. More CO stores closed.

The franchisees have always been focused solely on Children’s Orchard. It seems Bond is always focused elsewhere and just trying to use CO as a springboard for ill-conceived, wasteful diversions.

Yore cheatin’ heart will tell on you…

The franchisees have tried to get hubby to go to counseling (the American Association of Franchisees & Dealers) or even to talk about their relationship, but he’s (supposedly) having none of it.  They claim Taylor Bond is “the indifferent spouse who won’t change and refuses to go to counseling.”

Not knowing what else to do, they’ve planted a sign in their front yard (TOC website) that says:  “My hubby’s a bozo.”

A cautionary tale for franchisors

Is it too late for the Children’s Orchard marriage to be salvaged? I don’t believe so.  I doubt the franchisees would be vying for hubby’s attention so aggressively if they didn’t think the relationship could be salvaged.

Will the marriage be salvaged? Looks doubtful.  Hubby has refused to respond in a meaningful way, and will not meet with the franchisee group.  I called the home office, but never got a return call.

Looks like Hubby’s reaction is to close the den door and turn up the TV.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?  SHARE A COMMENT BELOW.

image:  Zuma Press

Also read:  Franbest franchise information

Post from: Franchise Pick