Broken promises: a franchise almost broke us

A Contractor reader responds to the August article on plumbing franchises

THIS IS IN REGARDS to the franchising article in the recent CONTRACTOR magazine (A Port in the Storm). It was promoting reasons why people should spend thousands to franchise instead of being a startup independent contractor. A president of franchise operations mentioned the failure rate is overwhelming for the startup independent contractor basically because they are not a franchise. The word “startup” is a play on words.

I have been a contractor since 2003. I have to disagree because I am one of many franchises that didn't succeed, even though we did what our business coach said to do. We have fought through a very troublesome financial strain due to the franchise. They want you — they make you — spend money that you don't have to do their failsafe marketing, which did not work for us at all. We told our business coach what marketing we needed to do in our area. She said, “No,” and, “It is a waste of our money.” We did what she said to do, and literally thousands of dollars later we only got a couple calls from this proven marketing plan that she told us to do.

We got real tired of her rudeness and demanding nature. She would actually talk down to us, like we were a thorn in her side. Truth be known, there is many more franchisees she dealt with that felt the same way we did.

Here is the happiness that came out of the horrible experience we had as a franchise. We never delay in letting people hear how we bounced back from being on the bottom. After one year back on our own, we have grown. Our revenues have almost jumped 50% just in that short time. The marketing that we are doing isn't the same marketing that our B.C. said was a waste of our money.

Interesting isn't it? If she sees this, maybe she will realize that she isn't always right and maybe listening instead of dictating should be considered.

By the way, it took over one and a half years to get a site visit from our franchisor, which we asked for so we could get some help. We were promised so many things and only got heartache, financial issues, and a whole lot of stress.

Now, we have a grip on things and are operating fine without any highly inflated franchise fees that proved to be a waste of our money. In the franchise plan, we had to honor 100% satisfaction guaranteed or your money back. Well, we aren't satisfied. Do we get any of our money back? Zero. None.

Enough has been said, but I want to ask one thing to those other independent contractors who are holding their own and considering a franchise. Do you really think a franchise is going to help your business in today's economy, after you pay thousands to a franchise? Also, remember you have to pay thousands to convert your fleet. Is it, for the most part, a sales pitch?

Do I think all franchises are bad? Absolutely not. If you do decide to franchise, make sure your B.C. is a true, experienced franchise owner, not just a B.C. with a college education. “A person with true experience speaks volumes more than a person with a theory.”

Mr. Editor, I have a question for you. Do you cater to the franchises because they buy one-half to full-page ads? If you do, I understand that in a way, but what about the other side, franchisees that basically sank due to the demanding, money hungry nature of some franchises?

Why don't we see articles about contractors and their experiences with franchises, especially the ones who work hard at making it work and it didn't? I understand why you don't, but people need to see that too, not just all the flashy ads and articles talking about how you should franchise or you will fail. Now this is funny: there is a franchise that said in their ads, and I quote, “No Franchise Will Fail.” You may have noticed they no longer have that placed in their ads. Do you find that interesting? I do.

Mostly this is written for you to see that there are other sides to what you have published. There is one guy in Arizona who bought a $62,000 territory and would call me for advice because that same B.C. that we had was his also. He got nothing from it. He is no longer a franchisee, so you can imagine what happened in regard to the $62,000 he spent on the territory.

Thanks for your time. In Christ.