Cloud Merchants & Franchise Ranters Part 1

If you want to find the straight scoop on franchising, you have to learn to recognize and be able to navigate the pervasive opinions of two groups:  The Cloud Merchants (CMs) and the Angry Franchise Ranters (AFRs).


The Cloud Merchants portray franchising as a magical paradise where happy franchisees frolic with a euphoria induced by being their own bosses, controlling their own futures, being in business for themselves but not by themselves, and a success rate so high only self-defeating morons who spit in the face of the Success Fairy will not succeed.

Conversely, the Angry Franchise Ranters portray franchising as a deep dark abyss run by a coven of flesh-eating vampires who lure hapless but courageous entrepreneurial virgins and feed on their hopes and dreams until all that is left is an empty shell, massive debts, repossessed homes and ex-spouses and kids that blame it all on them.

The CMs are much more prevalent than the AFRs, but the AFRs make up for it in sheer volume and annoyingness.

Introducing our newest AFR&B (Angry Franchise Ranter & Blogger):  Bloody Franchise

Bloody Franchise is the newest AFR&B (Angry Franchise Ranter & Blogger), a newcomer with all the subtlety, flair and intellectual depth of a WWF wrestling character.  Bloody Franchise left a scathing comment on my recent post (SUBWAY Attorney Joins Spy Store Franchise) about a young attorney joining a soon-to-launch franchise.  Although he knows nothing about either the attorney or the franchise, BF viciously attacked both for the sole reason that they are involved with franchising.

I clicked the link over to BF’s blog only to find an image of a white wolf howling next to a flowing river of blood (Did I tell you he was subtle?).  Even more disturbing was seeing my name in the first sentence of the blog post, which included more ranting about the young attorney he knows nothing about (BF writes: Thanks to Sean Kelly (naivete does have its upsides) for letting us know about people like Ms Church…)

(Wow.  Am I now famous enough to have my own franchise stalker?  Cool.  Sort of. )

Further down a hint of BF’s ranting AFR&B manifesto:

The only people a franchisor needs today on staff is a dishonest, slick and smooth sales force, an in-house lawyer with all of the franchisor tricks in her bag… and a gullible broker (a guy like Sean*) to promote their snake oil**.  Add a PR person to tell the world how successful franchising and especially the franchisor has been and is (they could also hire you for this Sean***) and voila – you’re a franchisor.  Sit back and collect the royalties, the franchise fees, spend the franchisees money on advertising (and get to go to Nascar and PGA events) and when the franchisee gets pissed off, they have to go to detention (otherwise known as arbitration).  This too is controlled by vendors who cater to the franchisor.  And when you learn that the franchisor is the master and you are the slave, you can come out, broke!

While, like many ranters, BF chooses to remain anonymous, it’s a fair bet that he is an unsuccessful franchisee who was never given NASCAR tickets to his company’s own race, and that he went up against his franchisor in arbitration and lost.  Now he feels his only recourse is to lash out at anything and everything remotely franchise-related.  He will remain anonymous and will not give any details so that no one can challenge his version of his victimhood, and in the naive belief that posting under “Bloody Franchise” will keep him from getting sued for the libelous rants he will eventually get sued for.

The problem with Angry Franchise Ranters is that they may actually have some good points worth sharing – but no one will listen. They are solely interested in venting and attacking everyone and everything, even potential allies.  They are not interested in warning others from making their same mistakes, and they want to see their former franchise system topple, no matter how many other franchisees get hurt.  They are primarily out for revenge, and that negates the good they could possibly do.

To me, the key message you need to understand is that whether you are buying a franchise or starting your own business, the buck stops with you.  It’s up to you to thoroughly investigate, research and plan your new business.  The painful truth is that there is no safety net whether you start a franchise or go it alone.

Listen to the Cloud Merchants, consider the Ranters warnings, and in the end rely only on your best judgement and the advice of those who will be in it with you.


* I’m not a broker.  Never was a broker and have never sold franchises.

** I do not promote snake oil.  In fact, the only product I publicly endorse is the Green Prosperity Prayer Hankie.  Why?  Because it works!

** I’m sure they’ll want to hire me after this exposure ;)