I’m a Minnesotan, and there’s a moniker that floats around out there describing us: Minnesota Nice. It’s even on Wikipedia, which labels us as “courteous, reserved and mild mannered.” Sounds good, right? More: “a polite friendliness, an aversion to confrontation, a tendency toward understatement, a disinclination to make a fuss or stand out, emotional restraint, and self-deprecation.” But, it gets dicier: “Critics have pointed out negative qualities, such as passive aggressiveness and resistance to change.”
OK, so there is a flip side to being nice. Ashley Hill, the subject of our cover story this month, has a flip side to her Southern Hospitality demeanor, too. As Franchise Times Managing Editor Beth Ewen mentioned to me in a story meeting a couple of weeks ago, Hill has a kind, sweet southern accent, but what lies beneath is a “shrewd negotiator.” That disarming quality—Beth writes that Hill may remind you of your first grade teacher—has helped her land a sweet deal for six Sylvan Learning Centers in Arkansas and Tennessee. But she was also attracted to the business moves being made by the franchisor. As a former teacher, she saw how important technology is to learning, and Sylvan is making big investments in that area. Find out more about what Sylvan’s CEO, Jeff Cohen, has planned there, and what new franchise format is taking their ‘zees by storm.
Speaking of taking something by storm, in the last few years the outreach to veterans by franchisors and vendors in the sector has been enormous. And it’s commendable: Who wouldn’t want to help those who’ve risked their lives so ours can be better? As Beth writes in her editorial coverage of veterans this month, franchisors have offered incentives to veterans, both because they think it the right thing to do, and because they feel they would make excellent franchisees—they follow orders well and understand systems.
But are veterans any better franchisees than the general population? We don’t know that yet, although there are folks in our sector beginning to track that performance. But until that’s released, we went directly to the source: Franchise Times asked veterans-turned-franchisees how their experience prepared them for franchise ownership. Some of their answers will surprise you.
I was also surprised by the result of research completed by FRANdata on franchisee fees and royalties, which was presented at our Franchise Finance & Growth Conference in April. We’ve seen franchisee fees and royalties jump up over the last few years, and is there any correlation between franchisee success and how much money they’ve dished out? Read FT reporter Jonathan Maze’s summary to find out.
And don’t miss our Continental Franchise Review column, which covers the growing controversy over a bill introduced in Maine that would change the franchisee and franchisor contract. One opponent says even the name is misleading. “It sounds like apple pie and grandma,” he says.Contributing writer Julie Bennett turned in a fascinating travel log about her visit to Turkey and how the franchise world turns there. One of my favorite quotes from a franchise consultant based there about franchises that wouldn’t do well: “Lawn care is not one of our priorities and people who want maids already have them. As for senior care, we all live with our parents and would never turn them over to strangers.” Ouch.
It’s a juicy read, whether you are a franchisor or a franchisee, which is what we aim to provide here at Franchise Times. We like to cover the debates, too. We can’t always be Minnesota Nice.