Jennifer Brandle / Prince George Citizen – April 20, 2016
People often use the words “franchise” and “chain store” interchangeably. Not only is this incorrect but the misuse of the labels alters the way we perceive the businesses in question.
It is important to recognize the differences between these two kinds of businesses so that we may understand the motivations and connections that they have in our communities. While I do consider all businesses with store fronts in Prince George to be local, I should state my personal bias for franchise businesses over chain stores and here is why.
A franchise is a business whereby a legal agreement allows a franchisee (entrepreneur) to pay for the right to use the branding and marketing, sell the products and services, and utilize a business model from a parent company called the franchisor. Royalties or fees are paid to the umbrella company in exchange for the ongoing ability to deliver a consistent experience to the customer from any franchise location.
Examples of franchises located in Prince George include Menchies, Second Cup and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Behind these businesses are local owners, whose families have taken on great personal risk to bring these familiar products to our business environment. They have a vested interest in succeeding in business within the community they call home.
Alternately, a chain store is a business owned and operated by a corporate office which owns all the individual stores. A chain store business will often be managed by local individuals from the cities in which they do business, but ownership stays with the central corporate office. Examples of these kinds of chain stores in Prince George include Bath & Body Works, Costco and Marks.
The benefits of having chain stores located in our city are numerous: local employment opportunities, consumer choice, corporate tax collected, surrounding development from anchor tenants, and many more.
Franchises offer all the same benefits listed above. But the reason I favour franchises over chain stores is that more of the profit made by the franchise businesses stays in our city. I also find franchise owners easier to connect with and consequently often more supportive of community causes because decisions don’t have to go through a head office; they can be made on the spot.
Recognizing that there are always exceptions and some chain stores are big on generosity, community support and accessibility, I do believe that franchisees deserve to be recognized as distinct from chain store business operators. A franchise’s ability to sell highly recognizable brands doesn’t come for free; they invest dearly for this privilege. They aren’t a bunch of faceless big business execs rolling around in mountains of cash. They are our neighbours. Therefore, let’s give them our support as much as anyone else who invests their lives and savings into their business ventures.
Until next week, stay in the black and keep coming back.