As a member of society, it can feel daunting to take on the big business and as a franchisee with a gripe against a franchisor, it can feel like you’re doing just that. You worked hard, paid the money to purchase the franchise and pay the required costs out of your earnings, so it’s understandable that things happen which cause you dissatisfaction. Maybe they’re not delivering on their marketing promises, or maybe you have an issue with the supplier you’re required to use. Whatever your complaint is, it’s important that you manage it quickly and in the right way – so you get back to running your business.
Follow the correct procedure
When you purchased your franchise, you entered into a franchise agreement. And when you (the franchisee) or the franchisor disagrees with something or feels that parts of the agreement aren’t being adhered to, a dispute has arisen.
As part of the Franchising Code of Conduct, there is an official complaint handling procedure built into your franchise agreement. However, as with any official process, it can be tricky to know where to start, especially in times of stress. Thankfully, there’s a simple process to follow which could help you to gather your thoughts and guide you through making a complaint about a franchisor.
Step 1: What kind of complaint is it?
The first step is to ascertain what kind of complaint or dispute you’re making because once you have that clarified, you’ll have more of an understanding of what’s needed to resolve it. The reasons for disputes can vary but some examples are:
- Expectations have not been met around work to be completed or you feel as if you haven’t had the level of support you were promised
- You feel you have been misled or something was misrepresented in the initial agreement
- You are being accused of not complying with the requirements of the brand whether through price or standard of presentation
- You have a dispute about payments or royalties
Step 2: Write a letter to the other party
It’s important here to communicate the following:
- What you are disputing
- What you want the outcome to be
- What kind of action you think will settle your dispute
Once you have written and sent your letter, you should allow three weeks from them to respond.
Step 3: Enter into mediation
If the matter hasn’t been resolved within three week of your letter, then you’ll need to enter into mediation. This is an informal negotiation which is facilitated by an independent party, designed to try and keep the matter out of court. Both sides have the chance to share their side of the argument and both sides have control over the outcome. However, any decision made as party of this process is completely confidential and legally enforceable.
Step 4: Proceed to court
If an agreement can’t be made with mediation, it’s time to enter the litigation phase. If you can avoid this, it’s worth doing so. Litigation can be expensive and as soon as you put the matter in the hands of the court, you have less control over the outcome.