Thursday, December 2, 2021

Look ahead and reason back: buying a franchise

Individual franchisees (like an individual hotel owner) pay to use the brand and business formula of the franchisor (like Best Western, Comform Inn, Days Inn, Econolodge, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn, Ramada, or Super 8). The value of the brand to the franchisee depends, among other things, on how much "within brand" competition there is.

Unless the contract grants the franchisee an "exclusive territory," the franchisor may have an incentive to set up more franchisees in the same area. Using a ten year data set of Texas Hotels, Arturs Kalnins find that when new franchisees open up nearby, incumbent franchisees lose 2-3% of their revenue. Interestingly, there is no cannibalization when a new company-owned hotel enters near an existing company-owned hotel (e.g., La Quinta and Motel 6 own most of their own hotels).

If franchisees anticipate that future franchisees will cannibalize sales, this will reduce the amount that they are willing to pay for the franchise. If franchisees do not anticipate cannibalization, they are in for a rude awakening.

Franchisees are powerful politically (easy to organize, common purpose) and often lobby state legislatures to enact franchisee "bill of rights" giving them, among other things, right of first refusal for new franchises. In states with strong franchisee bills of rights, companies with strong brands opt for company-owned stores, which are easier to control instead of the franchisee organizational form..