Business Franchising Internet

Working on our new franchise blog

It’s official, my company is finally stepping into the 21st century by having its own franchise blog.

I had been waiting for this since I joined the company earlier this year. After agreeing on the development of a brand new website (to be coming soon), my boss understood the importance of setting up a blog, which of course will be powered by WordPress.

Many of our competitors already have blogs but they mostly use these blogs for SEO purposes. By “SEO purposes”, I mean their main goal is not to get people to read their blogs, but to stuff their posts with links for SEO juice.

I obviously want to use this new blog for SEO purposes as well, but most importantly, I want to provide real franchise news and information to potential franchise buyers. I’ve always been a big believer in the power of blogs but I think I just recently understood how to efficiently use them, after reading “The New Rules of PR & Marketing” by David Meerman Scott.

I know there is a place for us in the franchise blogosphere as there are very few genuine franchise information blogs out there, most of them putting their own interests first vs. putting the interests of their (potential) readers.

Internet Opinions

When commenting on blogs goes wrong

As a marketing guy working in the franchise industry, I keep myself informed by reading the news, and subscribing to blogs. The problem is there is not many good franchise-related blogs. Most of them are created by franchise directories with the sole purpose of writing articles stuffed with links to various pages on their site. That is pure blogging for SEO.

However, there are a few good blogs out there: Blue MauMau, the Franchise Pundit, and Franchise Pick to name a few… I subscribe to their RSS feeds and read their latest posts almost on a daily basis.

Last week, one of the blogs I follow (note that I am not linking to it) posted about how one of Guy Kawaski‘s people approached him to help create the new franchise page on I thought it was pretty cool so I commented the following, adding my name and my company’s URL as it is common practice to do when filling out a comment form:

Congrats on being noticed by Guy’s team! Do you know how I can submit franchise-related content to the alltop?

That was a totally genuine comment. I was truly happy for this blogger that AllTop got in touch with him to put up the franchise section together.

The next few days following this comment I had made, I also posted two additional comments on his blog. These comments were related to choosing the right franchise and buying an existing business.

Today, I went back to the site to read a new post and realized that my 2 previous comments were not there. Hmm. I scrolled down and saw that my comment about AllTop was there with an additional comment so I opened the post to read this follow up comment. This comment was posted by the blogger, telling me I was spamming to get links back to my “weak ass franchise site”.

I picked up the phone and called him as he gives his phone number on his blog (which I think is a great idea). I told him my name and he didn’t seem to connect the dots as he was welcoming me with a warm “Hi Sebastien, how are you?”. Then I told him I was the guy who commented on his blog and that he accused me of spamming. The tone of his voice changed right away and he went on telling me he gets many spam comments every day and that I was just commenting to get a link back.

I was really hurt that this guy labeled me as a spammer. I tried to explain to him that I don’t care about his link back for several reasons.

  1. It’s a TyPad blog (I hate those). When you post a comment, your link doesn’t even show up as it does on WordPress with the nofollow tag. Instead, the URL showing is a redirect from TypePad to my site. So if you put your mouse over my name, you will not see as the URL, but you will see something like While Google supposedly pays no attention to nofollow URLs, it has been demonstrated in the past that Google actually use these for “discovery”, aka, finding new pages. However, I have nothing to gain by having a redirect such as the one mentionned above to my site. The only benefit would be that someone may click on my name and go to my site, which brings me to point #2.
  2. This blog is never commented on which could mean several things: a) it gets no traffic. I really doubt it though as it ranks pretty well for some key keywords. b) there is traffic but traffic leaves the site right away, which is likely to happen as people come here looking for franchise info and most likely don’t find what they want. c) comments are deleted by the blogger himself as they come, in which case, why don’t you turn off the commenting feature?
  3. Understanding the 2 points above, why would I waste my time commenting on his blog, other for the genuine purpose of commenting and creating a conversation on some of his interesting posts? That’s the question.

I tried to convince him that I wasn’t spamming him, told him about the other comments that were meant to show a different point of view (ie. he was saying you have to love a franchise to buy it. I was saying that it’s true, however some businessmen buy franchises without giving a shit about the product. These are the true business people who are not involved in the day to day operation but they are highly involved in creating a business vs. operating it). On the other comment, I was trying to get the blogger’s opinion as he pointed out to an interesting article that basically said that it is safer to buy an exisiting business. I asked the blogger what he thought about it. After all, I come to his blog to get his opinion, not the one of a newspaper article…

My attempt to convince him of my good faith was vain. He still thinks I am a spammer and that I do this to get links back to my “weak ass franchise site”. This was very insulting too. I asked him if he knew my boss. He said he didn’t. Very strange, as everyone in this industry knows Rob.

During our phone conversation he mentioned he had relationships with other franchise directories (our competition), which I think was the real reason for not adding my comments. He just doesn’t want people to potentially leave his site to go to mine.

I asked him to at least kindly remove my comment and his comment about me being a spammer, which he agreed to. He didn’t have to but I think it’s fair. I just checked the post again and he just removed his comment about me spamming his blog. He left my comment on and I can appreciate that.

The moral of this story is that if you have a blog, you will always expose yourself to spamming. I get a lot of spam every day (especially on the iPhone Download Blog – which by the way reached over 8,000 people yesterday!) and if it is too flagrant that it is spam (like “I love your blog, thank you so much”), I simply delete the comment and mark it as spam. If the comment is somewhat genuine and the URL is the one of a personal blog, I approve it. If the comment is somewhat genuine and shows the URL of a foreign currency exchange type-of-website, I just edit the comment and remove the link. Doing this, I don’t give the SEO juice to the spammer but I keep the community feel of my blog alive. Because that’s what blogging is all about: telling what you think and also being able to hear what others are thinking.


Key Steps to Buying a Retail Franchise

Considering that sales from franchises account for billions of dollars in revenue every year, buying a franchise is statistically the safest way to own a business – provided you choose the right franchise. Below are listed seven key steps that will help you choose the best retail franchise for you.

1) Evaluate your interests, skills and financial situation. Consider your interests and skills before you buy a retail franchise. What about owning a retail franchise appeals to you? Are you willing to work long hours – evenings, weekends, and holidays? Make sure you understand your financial situation; it could help you narrow down your options to what you can afford.


What You Should Ask Before Buying a Franchise

Buying a franchise means putting big dollars on the line, and, for better or for worse, your success doesn’t entirely depend on you – the quality of the company behind your franchise also matters. It is therefore important to learn as much as you can about the parent company before you make an investment.

Consider asking the following ten questions:

1) Is it a “package franchise” or a “product franchise”? The majority of franchises are “package franchises” – businesses such as fast-food restaurants, muffler shops or motels that come complete with a laid-out business model covering everything from financial controls to hiring guidelines. “Product franchises,” on the other hand, include businesses such as car dealerships and gas stations that exist primarily to distribute the parent company’s goods. Understandably, product franchise owners have more control over how they run their businesses than package franchise owners.


The Small Business Franchise Act

Originally introduced in 1998 and passed in 1999, the Small Business Franchise Act (SBFA) is has put into place certain safeguards designed to eliminate fraud and other activities that might exploit franchisee investors. Common opinion holds that the SBFA was introduced in order to give franchisees additional bargaining power against franchisors.
Michigan congressman John Conyers, Jr. stated that “Protecting the rights of franchisees is ultimately about protecting the rights of small businesses.”

The proof is in the details:

1) The bill reinforces existing prohibitions. The SBFA is a reminder that perpetuating fraud within the franchisor-franchisee relationship is prohibited.

2) The bill mandates good behavior and faith. Unsurprisingly, not everyone follows the rules in the world of franchising. The SBFA looks out for small franchisees by requiring all parties to act honestly with each other and observe reasonable standards of fair dealing in the industry.


Warning Signs When Buying a Franchise

Because investing in a franchise is a life-changing event, every prospective franchisee should thoroughly investigate a franchise opportunity before signing any sort of franchise agreement.

While there are multiple websites and books floating around that outline the steps that ought to be taken in the interests of due diligence, you should take a minute to review the “red flags” we’ve outlined below:

1) Is the franchise salesperson putting on the pressure? One of the traits of a good franchisor is that it wants to make sure there is a mutually good fit before “closing the sale.” Should you find yourself being pressured into making a decision but feel like you haven’t been given adequate time to think everything through, don’t sign an agreement. Frankly, the franchisor wouldn’t be hounding you like that if the franchise opportunity were, in fact, spectacular or if there were, in fact, a long line of potential franchisees. What’s more likely in a pressure situation is that the franchise opportunity is not that spectacular, their line is not that long, and, conversely, they need your money in order to make their payroll.


How Do You Survive Franchisor Bankruptcy?

It takes immense discipline and fortitude to survive a franchisor’s bankruptcy. It’s a good idea to have a plan to minimize any potential losses in revenue and reputation, just in case such an unfortunate circumstance arises. When armed with a plan, you’re more likely to avoid disaster and consequently keep your business afloat.

The following are tips designed to help you get through franchisor bankruptcy:

Heed warning signs: Hear a rumor? Investigate it. You do not want to find out the hard way – i.e., through a third party like a customer or the paper – that the franchisor is bankrupt, since doing so can compromise your rights and interests. If someone murmurs “bankruptcy,” be on the alert. The worst case scenario is that you determine that the rumor is no more than a rumor, and business resumes as usual. Some signs are very subtle, so pay attention. For example, if your franchisor is collecting advertising money from you but you don’t see any advertising happening, be on guard.


Finding a Franchise

There are a number of ways you can find and purchase franchises. Keep in mind that due diligence is necessary, and anything that sounds too good to be true probably is.

The ways in which you can locate and purchase franchises include:

Directly Through the Franchisor: As a general rule, franchisors list information on their websites or will send you an information packet per request.

Internet: When it comes to online franchise directories, there are nearly too many to count. Many of these lead generation sites offer additional features, including advice on franchising, franchise law, and financing. Be aware, though, that, due to the sheer volume of available information, you may have difficulty deciding where to begin your search for the ideal franchise opportunity.


Franchise Financial Performance

Your status as either a potential purchaser or merely a curious member of the public partially determines the amount and quality of information you’ll be able to discover about the financial performance of a specific franchise. Potential purchasers are able to find out about a franchise’s financial performance via the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Franchise and Business Opportunity Rule. Under the Franchise and Business Opportunity Rule, franchisors are required to make a series of detailed disclosures to potential purchasers, either in the Uniform Franchise Offering Circular (UFOC) form or in the form provided by the rule.


Government Regulation of Franchises

In the United States, all franchisors must abide by the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Franchise Rule, which requires franchisors to prepare a disclosure document called the Uniform Franchise Offering Circular (UFOC ) / Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and give a copy of that document to prospective franchisees prior to their purchase of a franchise.

The UFOC / FDD document consists of 23 different categories, which contain information such as basic investment, franchise fees, a financial statement of the franchisor and earnings claims (if the company discloses that information), how long the franchise will be in effect, bankruptcy and litigation history (including civil judgments and felony convictions) and information about the franchisor’s executives (such as past experience).