Monthly Archives: February 2020

What Happens When You have a Dispute with Your Franchisor?

Feb 28, 2020 - Blog by |

When you bought your franchise, the last thing you expected was that you would end up in a dispute with your franchisor. You had a good relationship with the people you talked to, you were excited about the opportunity, and it seemed like everyone was on the same page. But now, the relationship has soured, you aren’t happy with your outlet’s financial performance, and you find yourself in need of a franchise dispute lawyer. What happens now? Coming to Terms with Your Franchisor There are a number of potential ways to resolve franchise disputes, and the options that are available depend on the specific facts and circumstances involved. For example, if you have received a notice of termination, you may need to act more quickly – and your options may be more limited – than if you were facing a dispute with regard to something like advertising approvals or adopting an expensive new point-of-sale system. 1. Attempting to Negotiate a Mutually-Agreeable Resolution Generally speaking, however, your first option will be to attempt to negotiate a mutually-agreeable resolution. Is there a misunderstanding that simply needs to be cleared up? Is it in both parties’ best interests to quickly find a way forward? If so, then your chances of negotiating an outcome that you can live with might be fairly good. Negotiating doesn’t have to mean sitting down in a board room and going toe-to-toe. In fact, in many cases, issues can be resolved with an email exchange or a few phone […]

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2020 Franchise Industry and Economic Data

Feb 26, 2020 - Blog by |

In January 2020, Franchise Direct published two articles, A Look at How Franchises Impact the Economy and Franchising by the Numbers, that provide a nice overview of the current state of the franchise industry. Here, franchise attorney Jeffrey M. Goldstein covers some of the highlights: 1. There are More than 750,000 Franchises in the U.S. with More than 8 Million Employees According to Franchise Direct, as of January 2020, “[i]n the United States, over 750,000 franchise establishments are operating and employ around 8.17 million people.” Franchise Direct also reports that another 13.3 million jobs are “supported by franchises.” Citing the most-recent economic data, Franchise Direct reports that gross revenue from franchisees topped $868 billion in 2016, compared with $675 billion a decade earlier. 2. Food Continues to Dominate the Franchise Industry Across all sectors, food establishments accounted for the most employment in franchising, providing just under 473,000 jobs across the country. Based on global sales data, the three most-successful U.S.-based franchises are McDonalds, 7-Eleven, and KFC. 3. Franchise Ownership Demographics are Shifting It used to be that the majority of franchise owners were middle-aged or older, and typically seeking to transition out of an unfulfilling job or use their career experience to build their own business. While this is still the case today, Franchise Direct reports that 12 percent of franchisees are now 34 years of age or younger, and more than half of franchisees (54 percent) own two or more outlets. 4.  Franchising is Expected to Continue Its Upward […]

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Distributor Not Barred from Assigning Antitrust Claims under No-Assignment Provision

Feb 25, 2020 - Franchise, Dealer & Antitrust Decisions in One Sentence by |

Distributor Not Barred from Assigning Antitrust Claims under No-Assignment Provision In Walgreen Co v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 19-1730, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 5336 (3d Cir. Feb. 21, 2020), the United States District Court for the Third Circuit reversed a federal trial court’s decision in favor of the alleged prescription drug manufacturer price-fixer, ruling that an assignment of federal antitrust claims is not barred by a distribution contract provision proscribing the assignment of any “rights or obligations under” that distribution contract; as the Third Circuit determined the antitrust claims are a product of federal statute and thus are extrinsic to, and not rights “under,” a commercial distribution agreement.   Excerpts from Opinion OPINION OF THE COURT JORDAN, Circuit Judge. BACKGROUND Appellants Walgreen Co. and the Kroger Co. (which, for convenience, we refer to collectively and in the singular as “Walgreen”) operate retail pharmacies throughout the United States. One of the many pharmaceuticals that Walgreen dispenses to the public is Remicade, a biologic drug used to treat various autoimmune diseases. Remicade is marketed and manufactured by Appellees Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Biotech, Inc. (which, again, for convenience we refer to collectively and in the singular as “Janssen”). Janssen does not sell Remicade directly to Walgreen. Instead, Walgreen procures Remicade from two wholesale distributors: AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health (once more, [*3]  collectively and in the singular “Wholesaler”). Wholesaler acquires Remicade pursuant to a Distribution Agreement with JOM Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. (“JOM”), a Janssen affiliate.1 Only Wholesaler and JOM are identified as parties to […]

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Rent-to-Own Franchisor Operators Settle Charges that They Restrained Competition through Reciprocal Purchase Agreements in Violation of Antitrust Laws

Feb 23, 2020 - Franchise, Dealer & Antitrust Decisions in One Sentence by |

Rent-to-Own Franchisor Operators Settle Charges that They Restrained Competition through Reciprocal Purchase Agreements in Violation of Antitrust Laws FTC alleges that agreements by Aaron’s Inc., Buddy’s Newco, LLC, and Rent-A-Center, Inc. reduced competition, lowered quality and selection of products  February 21, 2020 – FOR RELEASE The FTC antitrust complaints alleged that from June 2015 to May 2018, Aaron’s, Buddy’s, and Rent-A-Center each entered into anticompetitive reciprocal agreements with each other and other competitors, and that these agreements swapped customer contracts from rent-to-own, or RTO, stores in various local markets, whereby one party to the agreement closed down stores and exited a local market where the other party continued to maintain a presence, such that these reciprocal agreements likely led to store closures that may not have occurred otherwise, resulting in reduced competition for quality and service in the remaining stores. These anticompetitive practices, according to the FTC, caused likely caused many travelers to have to travel to the next-closest location to make their in-person payment, which may have significantly increased their travel time and costs. Further, these wrongful agreements also explicitly required the selling party not to compete within a specified territory, typically for a period of three years. “These agreements affected consumers who already had few options for furnishing a home on a limited budget,” said Ian Conner, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “The FTC’s orders get rid of the agreements, reopen affected markets to competition, and bar these companies from doing this again.” https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2020/02/rent-own-operators-settle-charges-they-restrained-competition

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The Sale of a Franchise System May Imperil Franchisees’ Existing Exclusive Territories

Feb 23, 2020 - Franchise Articles by |

The Sale of a Franchise System May Imperil Franchisees’ Existing Exclusive Territories By: Jeffrey M. Goldstein      The sale of a franchise system to a new third party frequently raises the anxiety of existing franchisees on a broad array of business support issues, specifically including the potential encroachment on existing franchisees’ exclusive territories. In the instance where the new franchisor is already operating its own separate competing franchise system, the merger or acquisition can create an existential threat to those existing franchisees who, after the franchise system sale, are forced to compete with third party branded franchisees owned by the purchaser, or new franchisor. A Florida Supreme Court from 1998, prompted by a question to it from the federal appellate court in Florida, addresses an interesting permutation of this issue under Florida tortious interference law. Gossard v. Adia Servs., 723 So. 2d 182 (Fla. 1998). The case remains good law in Florida. The claim of tortious interference is interpreted broadly in Florida. The franchise business in Gossard began in 1974, when Larry Carr began operating an independent business which provided temporary nurses to health care facilities and individuals. Within a few years, Carr began selling franchises under the name Nursefinders.  In May of 1986, Richard Gossard became a franchisee when he purchased a franchise which covered, among other areas, Florida’s west coast. In 1987, Carr sold Nursefinders to Adia, and the following, year, Adia purchased Star-Med, a company also in the field of temporary nursing help business. Gossard’s franchise […]

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IFA Opposes Federal PRO Act, Calling It “The Most Anti-Franchise Bill in Modern Congressional History”

Feb 21, 2020 - Blog by |

On February 7, 2020, the International Franchise Association (IFA) published an article expressing its strong opposition to the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act (H.R. 2474), which passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on February 6. The PRO Act proposes to codify the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) joint-employer standard adopted in its highly-controversial Browning-Ferris decision from 2015. It would also adopt certain aspects of the California state court decision of Dynamex Operations West v. Superior Court, which created a so-called “ABC” test for determining whether an individual should be classified as an independent contractor or an employee. According to the IFA: “This bill would pose a massive threat to America’s 733,000 franchise businesses and the 7.6 million workers they employ. Already, the joint employer standard that this bill seeks to codify has cost the franchise industry $33.3 billion per year and led to a 93% increase in joint employment litigation. . . . [The PRO Act] could have the detrimental impact of turning every franchise owner into a de-facto employee of the brand.” The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act (H.R. 2474) In its current form, the PRO Act, if enacted, would create a new standard for joint employment that follows the NLRB’s Browning-Ferris decision. In pertinent part, H.R. 2474 states: “Section 2(2) of the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 152(2)) is amended by adding at the end the following: ‘Two or more persons shall be employers with respect to an employee if each such […]

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A.I. in Franchising: What Do Franchisees Need to Know?

Feb 14, 2020 - Blog by |

A recent article on 1851franchise.com discusses three ways that artificial intelligence (A.I.) has already made its way into the franchise industry, with a particularly-high adoption rate in the restaurant sector. Start-ups and well-established franchised brands are utilizing A.I. in a variety of ways—and they are forcing their franchisees to utilize A.I. as well. As a current (or prospective) franchisee, what do you need to know about the franchise industry’s acceptance of A.I. as a business development tool, risk mitigation tool and go-to-market strategy? Here are answers to some commonly-asked questions from national franchise attorney Jeffrey M. Goldstein: Q: How are Franchisors Requiring Franchisees to Make Use of A.I.? While artificial intelligence as something other than a sci-fi fantasy is still difficult for many people to grasp, the truth is that many companies are already using A.I. in many different ways. Within franchising, companies are utilizing A.I. for everything from tracking (and responding to) consumer sentiment to taking orders in-person and online. Q: Who Bears the Cost of Adopting New A.I. Technologies? Predictably, franchisors are forcing franchisees to bear the cost of adopting new A.I. technologies. Franchisors almost universally reserve the right to require franchisees to adopt system “updates” at their own expense, and most franchise agreements do not place any limits on the nature, frequency or cost of updates franchisors can require. Q: Can Franchisors Force Franchisees to Abandon Old Technologies in Favor of A.I.? In most cases, yes. Uniformity and “standards” are hallmarks of the franchise system, and franchisors […]

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Is There Really Such a Thing as a Recession-Proof Franchise?

Feb 7, 2020 - Blog by |

Lots of franchisors claim to offer “recession-proof” franchises. The basic idea behind this claim is that the products or services their franchisees offer either: (i) are so essential that people will need to pay for them no matter what, or (ii) come into even higher demand when the economy takes a downturn. While both of these make sense in theory, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that no franchise opportunity guarantees success. Even if your business is capable of surviving during a recession, this does not mean that it will survive during a recession (or even during more prosperous times). Recession-Resistant Franchise Sectors Perhaps, then, the term “recession-proof” isn’t quite as apt as “recession-resistant.” A recent article on Entrepreneur.com uses this term to describe five franchise sectors that might be less susceptible to economic contraction: Restoration Services – “[C]ompanies in the restoration business will always have customers. . . . Plus, much of the work is paid for through various types of insurance so the bulk of the bill may not fall to the homeowner.” Senior Home Care – America is getting older . . . [and] [s]enior home care allows . . . non-medical caregivers to come to seniors’ homes and help them with everyday chores they aren’t able to do themselves for a fraction of what senior living communities would charge.” Hair Care – “People may cut back on some personal grooming services, but hair care is rarely one of them. . . . […]

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