What is a franchise agreement?

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The franchise agreement is the cornerstone document of the franchisee–franchiser relationship. It is this document that is legally binding on both parties, laying out the rights and obligations of each. A sample agreement may either be attached to the disclosure statement or presented separately. Either way, you are entitled to receive it as a prospective franchisee five business days before signature. You should have it reviewed by a lawyer familiar with franchise matters–especially since most agreements are extremely one-sided in favor of the franchiser. No one should enter into a franchise and expect to have an evenly drawn contract.

The agreement will contain provisions covering, in considerable detail, the obligations of the franchiser (the company) and franchisee (you) regarding operating the business; the training and operational support the franchiser will provide (and at what cost); your territory and any exclusivity; the initial duration of the franchise and any renewal rights; how much you must invest; how you must deal with things such as trademarks, patents and signs; what royalties and service fees you will pay; tax issues; what happens if you should want to sell or transfer the franchise; advertising policies; franchisee termination issues; settlement of disputes; by the company, operating practices, cancellation, and attorney fees.

There is no standard form of franchise agreement because the terms, conditions, and the methods of operations of various franchises vary widely depending on the type of business involved. For example, franchises for printing, employment agencies, and automotive products will differ from the franchises for fast food service, convenience stores, or clothing.

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