Hot Topics in Franchising

By Beth Nilssen

Franchising seems to be a hot topic in business publications these days – there’s no shortage of interesting articles. Here are a couple that caught my eye:

Gap to start franchising Old Navy internationally

The chain of Gap stores seems to be engineering a turnaround, after struggling over the past few years to grab and keep customers in their highly competitive clothing niche. Part of their plan for the future includes scaling back on brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S., and expanding abroad by franchising the Old Navy concept. I’m not sure what this means for their company, but I’m intrigued by the interest in franchising their concepts. If Gap is entering the field, franchising must be a pretty powerful business/distribution model.

Can franchisees find room for innovation?

Here’s an article that focuses on an ongoing debate about franchising: How can franchisees be innovative when they are required to follow very specific policies governing their operations? As this writer explains, adhering to those policies improves the odds of a franchisee’s success, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to do so. But that doesn’t mean franchisors are closed to new ideas (at least, the good ones aren’t).

“...Even the most rigorously disciplined franchisors remain hungry for new ideas. If you’re a franchisee longing to put your own imprint on your business, or a potential franchisee wondering if you’ll be able to do so, you do have that opportunity.”

The writer suggests four steps to approaching the franchisor about a new idea: 1. Master the basics first. 2. Review your franchise agreement. 3. Contact your franchisor. 4. Do your homework.

Excellent advice.