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Buying a Franchise

What You Need to Know Before Signing a Franchise Agreement

You have done your research and have chosen a franchise business opportunity. You like the business and want to go ahead...but there is a hurdle in between. The company has given you its franchise agreement template and wants you to sign the same and then get started with the business. You have a lengthy document with several clauses/sub clauses and are not sure of what to do. I have tried to make this simple for you and have given you certain standard guidelines of what to do and how companies look at this document and expect the prospective franchisees to respond. At the end of the document, you will also see what characteristically a good franchise agreement contract sample must have. Beyond that, you will understand the importance of the franchise agreement and how it protects you as much as it safe guards the franchisors interests.

One of the most important parts of doing any franchise business is the franchise agreement. Every franchise relationship fructifies with the franchise sign up and hence the marriage with the franchisor and the franchisee is defined by the franchise contract. As an entrepreneur, you have to be extremely careful of what you sign, when you get into this relationship, as the next few years and the course of your life will stay altered forever. Let's begin understanding this entire process and how you should do this prudently, when you take up a franchise business.

We start with the understanding of what is the definition of a franchise agreement. We'd say that it's 'A legal document that clearly states the rights and responsibilities of the franchisor and franchiseeand is subject to a defined geography and a period and conforms to the entire legal requirements of the said location, is commonly known as the franchise agreement. It is always very good to know the entire terms and conditions of any agreement,before you get into a contract with a franchisor. It is always good for a franchisee to know what a franchisor is offering. In the franchise agreementyou will find some guidelines that will act as rules to govern your day to day running of the franchise and your overall functions.To know your rights and obligations, it is advisable to read allclauses in the agreement clearly. You need to ensure that, this agreement will make you run the business smoothly and will not hinder your functions in any way.

All the crucial information concerning the businessshould be contained in a good franchise agreement. The basic information should include the kind of business that is operated under this franchise, the name of the franchisor, the location and the mode used in advertising the franchise and the performance of the franchisor in the past. Before you sign an agreement with any given franchisor,these are some of the basic information you need toknow which is linked with having a plan on how the franchise will operate, and what the future prospects are. In the agreement, the rights of the franchisee and franchisor should also be clearly stipulated. This is a good way of understanding what the franchisors wants you to do and what they would do.

There are some kinds of franchise business model where health risk is involved. If you are looking for such type of business franchise then your health and safety obligation should beclearly mentioned in the particularfranchise agreement. It is good to ensure that you make use of an insured franchisor so that in case of emergencies you are well catered for. In case you terminate the terms of agreement, it should also show what the penalty is. When it comes to hiring of employees, an agreement should provide you with a clearly defined operation guideline.

For your own safety, it is good to know each and every aspect of the agreement you get into. It is good to make sure you know the legitimacy and genuineness of the franchisor you want to partner with before you sign an agreement. You need to look for a company that will offer you high quality services to your satisfaction. It is advisable to check on the satisfaction level of past franchisees before you sign such a company.

A new company, which is just beginning to franchise, may have room for recommendations and negotiations on terms of franchise. However, established brands with several franchisees may rarely look at altering their standard franchise template. In fact, they would at the onset give you the franchise agreement sample, and ask you to go through the same, before they engage you more seriously. Most companies though, through their annual franchisee meets and other regular feedbacks from their existing franchisees, make amendments to their franchise contract template. These company's give you a chance to incorporate new business ideas to make your business a success. Beware of many companies who could be very tricky. They may have hidden terms and conditions. So, it is always advisable to keenly read through all details of the documentsbefore you sign a franchise agreement and engage a proper franchise attorney or experienced franchise consultants who would guide you through the entire process.

Some countries also allows a minimum time period from when the agreement contract template is shared to when it is actually signed. If the does not exist in your country, it is always advisable to take at least 2 weeks' time and to read, understand and speak to franchise consultants or specialist franchise lawyers and then respond. Never, rush into signing a franchise agreement, just because the franchisor is pressurizing you to do so.

Hence to conclude, we could say:

All good franchise agreements have these things in common:

1) It does not limit the franchise marketing functions and enable recruitment of franchisees instead of scaring them away of several limiting clauses. Hence a good franchise contract will take into account, what franchisees would be wary off signing and ensure that the same is excluded. This means, as a franchisee, you need not worry of any clause that will either harm you or restrict you beyond the functions of the business.

2) It ensures clear demarcations, and provides for future growth and ensures seamless entry and exit, having proper termination and post termination clauses.

3) It provides sufficient provisions and time for rectifications of errors, if any. It is designed to protect the relationship, rather than break it.

4) It restricts the liabilities for the franchisees and franchisors properly and provides for proper cover age through insurance and other damage control measures.

5) Above all enables the company and the franchisee to function, respond and do business freely. Is synchronized properly with the financial, operational and marketing functions of the business.

6) Is absolutely compliant 100% with the local laws of the land and does not contravene in any way with local customs, cultures, sentiments and way of life. Hence you have to be very careful with international franchise agreements, which could have certain clauses that would be correct for one country, but may be irrelevant for yours.

Pryor - About the Author
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