Should every Franchisee own a Website?

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Social media and brand awareness creates unique problems for a franchisee system, the well understood division of national and local advertising has to be revisited.  

One important question is: should every franchisee own a website for local marketing purposes?

Michael Seid, a well known franchisor consultant and Board member for of the International Association of Franchisors, speaking for his franchisor clients, argues on Linkedin, that franchisees should not have the right to develop their own local content marketing program using a franchisee owned website.

Before a franchisee develops an independent website, they should review their franchise agreement to determine if they are allowed to.

Most well developed franchise systems would likely have some prohibition regarding a franchisee developing their own independent site.

However, many franchisors do provide the franchisee with a customizable site linked through the franchisor's website.

Even if the agreement does not discuss an independent web presence for its franchisees, a franchisee should discuss this with their franchisor to determine if the franchisor has any policy regarding this.

(Most of MSA's clients have such a policy and I do not believe any allow the franchisee to set up an independent site, for a host of reasons, although some do provide the franchisee with a customizable web presence.)


I disagree with Michael Seid's suggestion that it is in the franchisor's economic interest to contractually ban its franchisees from exercising their first amendment rights to free speech.  
First, many franchisees are active participants in local charities and events and correctly wish to publicize via social media their roles and achievements, which indirectly adds to brand value.
Second, a contractual ban on franchisee "ownership" of a  website is not likely to be effective given the tremendous opportunities in social media which do not require the ownership of a website to be effective.
This is an area in which organic practices have to drive policy to be effective.  What those best practices are is unknown at this moment.  Franchisors simply don't have the advertising or support dollars to set up the necessary social media tools by themselves, and  some form of user generated content is going to be needed to make them effective.
Third, the franchisor owns the trademark, the brand is what people are saying about you - which you don't own and need many listening posts to find out what the trends are.  That cannnot be done with a single command listening post.
Finally,  Franchisors risk missing the value of either content or inbound marketing, the online replacement for yellow pages, if they attempt to ban franchisee's first amendment rights.

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I don't know about owning a website or not, but I do know that franchisors, franchisees, and most importantly, people who write about franchises should know how to spell if they're going to publish something.

"Should every Franchisee own it's Website?"

Are you asking "Should every franchisee own it is website?"


"Should every franchisee own it has website?"

I'm thinking "Should every franchisee own its website?" No apostrophe please.

Secondly, the First Amendment grants citizens the right to free speech only in terms of limiting the Federal Government's intrusion or limitations on speech. Our present communist president's intentions and hopes notwithstanding, the Federal Government does not (yet) own all businesses. A franchisor can put any restrictions they with in their contracts. They can limit the franchisees' right to use the word "flower" if they want. They can say that franchisees must wear all black clothing at all times, and must sleep with socks on. It's up to the franchisee to decide to sign the contract or not. There's no government intrusion into a bargained contract. So the comment about the First Amendment is a bogey.

Sorry, bad mood today, and sloppy writing and misinformed claims really irritate me.

1. I accept the obvious grammatical suggestions. Thanks.

2. You are missing the point about the free speech, and you are wrong about the limits of contractual obligations. You appear to believe that a "freely bargained" franchise contract will not attract any constitutional attention. Is that your position? Because that hasn't been the case in the US since Lochner,, was decided. So, I am probably missing your overall point.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Webster published on October 16, 2011 10:34 AM.

What is Factoring? was the previous entry in this blog.

The Failure of Another Franchisor is the next entry in this blog.

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