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What is Franchising?

    What is Franchising?

    In franchising, an organization (the franchiser) has the option to grant an entrepreneur or local company (the franchisee) access to its brand, trademarks, and products.

    In this arrangement, the franchisee will take the majority of the risk in opening a new location (e.g. capital investments ) while gaining the advantage of an already established brand name and operational process. In exchange, the franchisee will pay a certain percentage of the profits of the venture back to the franchiser. The franchiser will also often provide training, advertising, and assistance with products.

    Why Franchise

    Lower Barriers to Entry

    Franchising is a particularly useful practice when approaching international markets. For the franchiser, international expansion can be both complex and expensive, particularly when the purchase of land and building of facilities is necessary. With legal, cultural, linguistics, and logistical barriers to entry in various global markets, the franchising model offers and simpler, cleaner solution that can be implemented relatively quickly.


    Franchising also allows for localization of the brand, products, and distribution systems. This localization can cater to local tastes and language through empowering locals to own, manage, and employ the business. This high level of integration into the new location can create significant advantages compared to other entry models, with much lower risk.


    It is also worth noting that franchising is a very efficient, low cost and quickly implemented expansionary strategy. Franchising requires very little capital investment on behalf of the parent company, and the time and effort of building the stores are similar outsources to the franchisee. As a result, franchising can be a way to rapidly expand both domestically and globally.

    A chart that shows how various forms of strategic alliance can rapidly increase rates of expansion.

    Starbucks’ Expansion: Starbucks operates with a wide variety of strategic alliances, including a franchising program.

    Downsides to Franchising

    Franchising has some weaknesses as well, from a strategic point of view. Most importantly, organizations (the franchisers) lose a great deal of control. Quality assurance and protection of the brand is much more difficult when ownership of the franchise is external to the organization itself. Choosing partners wisely and equipping them with the tools necessary for high levels of quality and alignment with the brand values is critical (e.g., training, equipment, quality control, adequate resources).

    It is also of importance to keep the risk/return ratio in mind. While the risk of franchising is much lower in terms of capital investment, so too is the returns derived from operations (depending on the franchising agreement in place). While it is a faster and cheaper mode of entry, it ultimately results in a profit share between the franchiser and the franchisee.

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