The equity extraction scheme that was exposed by 7-11 Employee Kurt McCord brings back painful memories for me.
The scheme is eerily similar to what was perpetrated against Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees from 1998 thru 2008. In that period it is estimated that Dunkin’ Brands extracted over $100 million dollars of franchisee equity using similar tactics described by Kurt McCord.
The biggest difference in the two brands, is that in Dunkin’s the franchisees made money and were afraid to speak out against what most franchisees knew what was going on. Some franchisees benefited at Dunkin’ because they were able to purchase the shops, but they paid top dollar for that privilege. I’ve been told by franchisees that purchased some of those shops that they were very surprised when at closing that Dunkin’s would walk away with the biggest check and even sometimes the franchise got nothing.
Unfortunately 7-11 franchisees do not make as much money as Dunkin’s franchisees do. 7-11 takes over 50% of any profit the store generates, it truly is a gloried manager’s job that may pay better than minimum wage, but not much more.
Onerous franchise agreements create the tool, greedy investors set the stage, failure to meet development goals cause the C-Suite level management to look for other means to generate cash flow and bingo the franchisee equity extraction scheme is launched.
Michael Seid and the IFA lobbyists scoffed at the suggestion that franchisee equity extraction is a problem in franchising. In Maine the IFA and franchisor lobbyists said that “there isn’t a problem in franchising, just with Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees, it’s an isolated incident”, well it looks like the quarantine is over and the equity extraction scheme is no longer isolated.
I will admit that blatant franchisee equity extraction schemes perpetrated by one brand against its franchisee are not common at let’s say bullying franchisees is. Bullying franchisees is not new to franchising, it happens in many systems, every single day. In Maine the IFA refused to accept any attempt to diminish franchisors ability to extract equity from franchisees, they even opposed “Freedom of Association” or termination with only with good cause, which is central to the effort of stopping equity extraction schemes in their tracks.
Thankfully, 7-11 has a national franchisee association. There is no doubt that they are discussing Kurt McCord’s revelations as I write this. 7-11 franchisees have been complaining about the bullying and equity extraction scheme for years now.
There is a need for pro-franchisee legislation to protect and defend the equity that franchisees invest in each state in the US. By the way 7-11 endorsed the IFA’s position against pro-franchisee legislation in Maine and New Hampshire. What a surprise?
Franchisees, wake-up! Most of the franchise agreements you signed can and will be used against you if and when the franchisor needs cash and is so incompetent they can’t figure out productive ways to generate that cash. Your franchise agreement is the tool that makes franchisee equity extraction possible. That tool may not be utilized as of yet in your system, but don’t kid yourself, it lies dormant in the franchise agreement you signed, and it can be utilized against you unless you live is a state with pro-franchisee legislation or unless you have a competent independent franchisee association working to protect your ability to protect, defend and enhance your equity as a franchisee.