Franchising Today Interview

Interview for Dummies 

The new Franchise Management for Dummies helps make sense of the legal,

money, location and other issues a would-be franchisee must understand.

By John Krukowski


Franchising is attractive to many people who want to launch second careers or be their own bosses. What they quickly discover, however, is that there is much to learn about their new venture. Helping to make sense of it all, Franchise Management for Dummies was released May 1 by John Wiley & Sons.

We reached out to one of the authors to get her take on the state of today's franchise industry.

Joyce Mazero is co-chair of the Global Supply Network Industry Practice and a partner at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, where she provides counsel in multiple areas including franchising. Mazero co-wrote Franchise Management for Dummies with Michael H. Seid, the founder and managing director of MSA Worldwide.

Franchising Today: It’s been nearly 20 years since your writing partner, Michael, cowrote the original Franchising for Dummies with Dave Thomas. What has changed significantly in the franchising world since then, and what inspired you two to write Franchise Management for Dummies?

Joyce Mazero: Franchising has changed in many important ways over the past 20 years, as has the entire business world. Joint-employer liability and vicarious liability are fairly recent concerns. The concept of social franchising has also come into its own, and we felt it was an important subset of business format franchising that had not been substantively addressed anywhere else.

FT: In your experience, what are most new or would-be franchisees either unprepared for or surprised by in the franchising experience?

JM: Michael and I have found that for many new franchisees, the steepest learning curve is their relationship with the franchisor. While they share a common brand and have the same ultimate goal of the brand's success, their day-to-day interests are not always entirely aligned.

Some franchisees might be surprised that the franchisor is not a safety net, and at the other end of the spectrum, others might be surprised that they are not free to be independent entrepreneurs.

FT: Have you found that most new franchisees are realistic about their strengths and weaknesses as business owners?

JM: In more than 35 years of experience in this field, Michael and I have come across almost every kind of franchisee there is. Here are some of the traits the most successful ones tend to share:

* They are meticulous in their organization, discipline and infrastructure;

* They maintain open communication with their franchisors; and

* They surround themselves with good people, including seeking the counsel of an experienced franchise advisor or lawyer.

FT: Is there a typical franchisee today? For instance, we’ve heard that franchising is very attractive to some millennials. What are you seeing?

JM: Franchising is a diverse industry with demographics spanning across generational, cultural and socioeconomic sectors. The industry is committed to increasing its diversity with initiatives like DiversityFran, an education and recruitment program through the International Franchise Association (IFA), which seeks to assist franchisors with reaching emerging and diverse markets. Therefore, there is no “typical franchisee,” but there is a typical state of mind among successful franchisees.

FT: What do you think is the best attitude or goal for a franchisee to adopt to be successful?

JM: Michael is recognized for reinforcing in his training and I agree, as I indicated, there are common traits among successful franchisees. Bottom line: They understand that there is no short cut to achieve success.

FT: Your book goes into great detail about the franchise disclosure document and franchising legal issues — is there one particular thing that franchisees need to understand about franchise law?

JM: Franchise law is complex, requiring advising from experienced franchise counsel. Franchise law tends to target two main aspects: the offering and selling of a franchise, and the franchise relationship. There are many secondary sources and other guidance also interpreting those laws and establishing legal standards.

Given that, a general business lawyer is not necessarily experienced in handling the nuances of franchise law. The same can be said of business consultants with limited experience in franchising. In the book, we focus on how franchise law works and how franchise systems are best structured, but we urge readers to get experienced franchise counsel before entering into a franchise relationship, and if you want to become a franchisor you will need both an experienced franchise lawyer and franchise consultant.  

FT: What is the main advice you have for franchisees regarding social media?

JM: The franchise agreement and corresponding operations manual are the first sources of information that franchisees should look to as guides for using social media as a marketing tool. These documents will inform the franchisee of the franchisor’s guidelines for complying with brand standards, which will likely include a franchisee’s use of social media.

For example, find out whether the franchisor must approve content or even provides mandatory content. Some franchisors may control all social media content while others may allow franchisees to manage their own content with oversight. Regardless, before initiating any social media campaign, franchisees should ensure any campaign complies with the franchise agreement.


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