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“Becoming a franchisee is an odd combination of starting your own business and going to work for someone else” (Schlosser 94).In Eric Schlosser’s Non-fiction book, Fast Food Nation, Schlosser reasons that fast food has widened the gap between the rich and the poor, started an obesity epidemic and propelled American cultural imperialism abroad. While the idea of a franchiser/ franchisee relationship appears to be nothing but beneficial, it has a serious drawback, which is the release/ acceptance of certain issues out of each party’s control. This, in turn causes other companies to try to develop new ways of forming this relationship. Subway, for example uses “Development Agents” to help ease tensions. However due to this, the controversial issue of encroachment emerges. This leaves society asking at what price is success worth it? And how is success measured by these companies?
The franchisee/ franchiser relationship has its benefits, but also one major downside which can cause conflicts and controversies. “At the heart of the franchise agreement is the desire by two parties to make money while avoiding risk” (Schlosser 94). In starting your own business, there is a huge financial risk. Even if you have an amazing idea it takes a lot of well managed money. Becoming a franchisee, though, while still costing a good amount of money, the risk is considerably smaller because the name, advertising and product is already out there. “One provides a brand name, a business plan, expertise, access to equipment and supplies. The other puts up the money and does the work” (Schlosser 94).
Franchising makes it easier for companies to expand their market and profit from that. “The relationship has built-in tensions. The franchisor gives up some control while not wholly owning each operation; the franchisee sacrifices a great deal of independence by having to obey the companies rules” (Schlosser 94). When putting that amount of money and work into building a successful franchise it is frustrating when you can’t make any changes you want on your own. While there is a great deal of sacrifice, particularly on the side of the franchisee, bottom line, when the profits are rolling in everyone gets along just fine.
Because the franchisee/franchisor relationship has built in tensions, it has led companies to explore new ways of forming this partnership. “The chain relies on “development agents” to sell new Subway franchises. The development agents are not paid salary … [their] Income is largely dependent on the number of Subway’s that open in their territory” (Schlosser 100). These development agents are technically independent contractors who will try to open as many subways as possible, because the more they open the more they are paid. “They are under constant pressure to keep opening new Subway’s, regardless of how that effects the sales of subway’s that are already operating nearby” (Schlosser 100).
Because they are independent contractors they don’t worry about how sales of other Subway’s are affected by their actions, in order to make money they need to keep opening franchises regardless of if they are making Subways across the street from other Subway restaurants. “As the American market for fast food grows more saturated, restaurants belonging to the same chain are frequently being put closer to one another. Franchises call this practice “encroachment” and angrily oppose it” (Schlosser 99). Although it may lead to a decrease in sales at the individual restaurants, the franchisors benefit from this practice that puts its franchisee’s out of business. While some can credit Subway for attempting to find new ways to form its relationships with its franchises, overall, its practices hurt its individual restaurants and make it one of the worst chains to be a franchisee for, long-term.
Due to the harsh reality uncovered in this chapter, society is able to see how hard it is to become successful, whether it is as a franchisee or starting a company on your own. At a success seminar Dave Feamster took his employees to, a paralyzed but still upbeat and motivational Christopher Reeve’s said, “Since my accident, I’ve been realizing … that success means something quite different” (Schlosser 107). Reeve’s is referencing the millions he made in his 20’s and that there may be more to success than that. “’I see people who achieve these conventional goals, he says … ‘None of it matters” (Schlosser 107).
This is such a powerful moment in the chapter, Schlosser is supposed to be attending a motivational seminar and yet readers walk away from it wondering, at what point success worth it is. If this man who was famous and beloved by America says he thinks he is irrelevant, what about us? In this chapter readers see that big companies measure their success in money and profits, but how should society measure it’s? The public education system might measure success in graduates or students that go on to college. But the great thing about this chapter is Christopher Reeve’s challenges the way you measure your success and leaves that up to the audience’s interpretation.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it” (Brainy Quotes W.C. Fields). The franchisee/franchisor relationship while mostly beneficial, has its hindrances, which is each party sacrificing some control. As companies such as subway have explored new ways of forming this relationship, even more problems have emerged from this. Readers are left wondering at what price success is worth it, and how big companies measure their success.
Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation. New York: Perennial, 2002. Print.
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