Buying a Franchise in New Jersey
Buying a franchise provides you with instant name recognition for your product(s), service(s) and business. You also will benefit from the experienced training and day-to-day support of the franchisor. An added dividend is that you’ll also have an established business address. But purchasing a franchise is like every other investment: there’s no guarantee of success!
The Benefits and Responsibilities of Franchise Ownership
A franchise with its system(s) enables you as an investor or future franchisee to capably operate your business. You pay a franchise fee and you get to use an operational system developed by the company to run the business together with the right to use the franchisor’s name. For example, the franchisor generally assists you by finding a location for your operation, provides initial training, delivers a detailed operating manual, and provides advice on management, marketing, and personnel. The franchisor may also provide support through periodic newsletters, a toll-free telephone number, a website, and scheduled workshops, seminars, annual meetings, etc.
Buying a franchise may reduce your investment risk by enabling you to associate with an established company. However, a franchise purchase fee can, and generally is, substantial. In addition, you also will have other costs: for example, royalty payments, contribution of a percentage of your gross sales, commitment(s) to spend a percentage of your gross revenue on a local sales, a national and/or marketing campaign, upgrades to facilities and/or equipment on a pre-scheduled basis. When you buy a franchise, you must also be prepared to give up some autonomy over your business as you take on contractual obligations with the franchisor intended (so says the franchisor) for both of your mutual benefit(s).
Buying a franchise involves many more details and checklists than the purchase of a non-franchised business
In addition to the normal pre-closing checklist items, you must make the time commitment and effort to ensure that the franchise agreements which are written by the attorneys for the franchisor, and to which you will be legally bound, are closely reviewed and the conditions of sale addressed.
You need to understand what your pre and post-closing obligations are to the franchisor which will be transferred by the current franchise owner to you as the new owner.
If you intend to become a franchisee after buying a franchised business, you must obtain the consent of both the franchisor and the landlord for the location where the franchise operates. To protect you, Hanlon Niemann & Wright will review the franchise agreement and incorporate the mandatory franchise related clauses and contingencies into the purchase and lease agreement(s).
Our firm has many years of experience helping clients evaluate the purchase of a franchised businesses. Our clients appreciate our quality legal work and prompt, responsive service. If you plan on purchasing a franchised business in New Jersey, contact Fredrick P. Niemann today.
The Purchase and Assignment of Ownership of an Existing Franchise in NJ
Signing a franchise purchase agreement if you are the franchisee buyer.
As previously stated, before transferring, assigning or purchasing a franchise or an interest in a franchise, the franchisee must notify the franchisor in writing. Generally, the required notice must include (1) the transferee’s name, address, financial qualification(s) and (2) business experience during the previous five (5) years.
If the seller fails or overlooks notifying the franchisor before selling the franchise to you and fails to satisfy his/her pre-sale obligations to the franchisor, the franchisor can and likely will allege a breach of the franchise agreement and terminate your franchise, after you close.
Once notice of the proposed sale is given, the franchisor will have a period of time, generally sixty (60) days to send a written response either approving the transfer or setting forth the reasons for denying the transfer.
NJ franchise laws impose a commercially good faith standard in the conduct and affairs between a franchisor and franchisee. Accordingly, the franchisor must act in good faith when conditioning or refusing to approve a franchise transfer to you.
When Purchasing a Franchise, You Need to Act With Caution! Don’t risk a costly mistake. Reach out to Fred personally today, toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him personally today at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a low cost and convenient consultation about your NJ franchise matter.
In my negotiations with a large international corporation, Fredrick P. Niemann worked with me to the end. They were thoughtful and proactive in identifying the issues of concern to me, issues I hadn’t even thought of. I was very satisfied with the services they rendered.
Cheryl Scheidler, Wall Township
The Real Costs of Purchasing a Franchise
Initial Franchise Fees and Other Expenses When Purchasing a New Jersey Franchise
Your initial franchise fee will range from several thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars, and often is non-refundable. In addition, you may be required to incur significant costs to rent, build, and equip a franchised location and to buy initial inventory. You also may have to pay for operating licenses and insurance, and a “grand opening” fee to promote your new business.
Advertising Fees to the Franchisor
You will also have to pay into the franchisor’s sponsored, managed and operated advertising fund. Some portion of the advertising fees may be allocated to national advertising or to attract new franchise owners, rather than to promote you individually within your market. The advertising and marketing expenses should promote you in NJ and not some franchise location(s) near the franchisor’s national headquarters in, say Nashville, Tennessee, but check this out carefully.
Control Over Management and Operations of Your Franchise
To ensure uniformity, consistency and quality, franchisors will place controls on how you conduct your business and restrict your ability to exercise your own business judgment, including:
- Site Location which almost always must be approved by the Franchisor
- Design and Appearance Standards to the interior and exterior of Your Franchise Business
- Restrictions on Types of Goods and Services You Sell
- Guidelines, Requirements and Restrictions on the Method of daily and monthly Operation(s) and reporting including, for example –
- Minimum daily business hours;
- Pre-approved signs;
- Standardized employee uniforms;
- Advertisements and marketing campaigns;
- Accounting programs;
- Computer and bookkeeping procedures
- Geographical restrictions on Sales Area – A franchisor will limit your business to a specific territory.
Investigating Before You Invest: Read the All-Important Disclosure Document
Before you invest in any franchise, get a copy of the franchise disclosure document. Under Federal law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you must receive a Franchise Disclosure document at least 14 days before you are asked to sign any contract or pay any money to the franchisor or an affiliate of the franchisor. You have the right to ask for — and get — a copy of the disclosure document once the franchisor has received your application and agreed to consider it. Indeed, you may want to get a copy of the franchisor’s disclosure document before incurring any expenses to investigate the franchise offering, if they’ll release it Many won’t.
The franchisor may give you a copy of its disclosure document on paper, via email, through a web page, or on a disc. The cover of the disclosure document should have information about its availability in other formats. Make sure that you have a copy of the document in a format that is convenient for you and keep a copy for reference.
Read the entire disclosure document. Do not be shy about asking for explanations, clarifications, and answers to your questions before you invest. Among the key sections in a complete disclosure document are:
This section tells how long the franchisor has been in business, likely competition, and any special laws and government regulations that impact the industry, like any license or permit requirements. This will help you understand the costs and risks you are likely to take on if you purchase and operate the franchise.
What is The Franchisor’s Business Background?
This section identifies the franchise system expectations and describes their backgrounds and experience in business. It is not limited to just their experience in the franchised business. Pay attention to their general business backgrounds, their experience in managing a franchise system, the success of their franchisees, and how long they have been with the company.
Litigation History is a Red Flag
Whether the franchisor or any of its executive officers have been convicted of felonies involving fraud, violations of franchise law, unfair or deceptive practices law, and/or are the subject of any state or federal injunctions involving misconduct is a critically important detail. It also says whether the franchisor or any of its executives have been held liable for — or settled civil actions involving — the franchise relationship. Lawsuits and judgments against the franchisor may indicate that it has not performed according to its agreements, or, at the very least, that franchisees and the franchise business has been under-performing.
This section also should say whether the franchisor has sued any of its franchisees during the last year or so, a disclosure that may indicate common types of problems in the franchise system. For example, a franchisor may sue franchisees for failing to pay royalties, which could indicate that franchisees are struggling to turn an adequate profit, and therefore, are unable or unwilling to make their royalty payments.
This section discloses whether the franchisor or any of its executives have been involved in a recent bankruptcy. This information can help you assess the franchisor’s financial stability and whether the company can deliver the support services it promises.
Do you have questions about your franchise disclosure document? Contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at email@example.com for an in-depth review and discussion before signing on the dotted lines.
HERE’S AN IMPORTANT TIP!
Talk to current franchisees and former franchisees that have left the franchise within the last year or two. This conversation may be the most reliable way for you to verify the franchisor’s claims. I encourage it as an independent way to evaluate the franchise relationship since it directly involves you with real world of the franchise relationship with the franchisor.
Some franchisors may give you a separate reference list of franchisees to contact. To ensure that you get the full picture, you will want to contact some references not listed in the disclosure document.
There’s no question that the disclosure document is critical reading for potential franchisees.
Associations of franchisees operating similar businesses can be another important source of information. Whether or not these associations are sponsored or endorsed by the franchisor, they can provide information about the state of the relationship between the franchisor and its franchisees. You may want to ask a franchisee association about:
- Relationship with the franchisor
- Benefits in buying from one franchisor versus a competitor
- Problems franchisees are facing in the operation of their business
Before You Sign the Franchise Agreement
The company’s disclosures may change between the time you receive the disclosure document and the time you sign the franchise agreement. A company is required to update its disclosures at least annually after its fiscal year ends. You have the right to ask for a copy of any updated information before you sign the franchise agreement. An updated disclosure document may give you information indicating the filing of new suits by or against the franchisor, changes in the franchisor’s management team, new financial data, and more current financial performance data.
Additional Sources of Information
Accountants and Lawyers
In addition to reading the company’s disclosure document — including any updates — and speaking with current and former franchisees, consider talking to an accountant and a NJ franchise lawyer. An accountant can help you understand the company’s financial statements, develop a business plan, assess any earnings projections and the assumptions they are based on, and help you pick a franchise system that is best suited to your investment resources and your goals.
An experienced franchise lawyer can help you understand your obligations under the franchise contract. These contracts usually are long and complex. Because a contract problem that arises after you have signed the contract may be very expensive to fix — if it can be fixed at all, choose a lawyer who is experienced in franchise matters. Contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq., a trusted NJ franchise law attorney. He can help you navigate your way through the process of deciding whether to purchase a franchise.
NJ Government Regulations of Franchises
Several states regulate the sale of franchises. NJ, however, has a very weak regulatory structure involving franchises. You will not find much help under NJ law. That is why you should reach out to me to discuss your prospective NJ franchise.
At Hanlon Niemann & Wright, we’ll work to protect you legally and offer practical advice in the real world of NJ franchises. Whether you need assistance with just one contract or franchise matter or would like an ongoing relationship with a NJ franchise law attorney who you can call on for all your legal needs, contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann& Wright, a Freehold Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey Buying a Business Attorney