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Myth: It is Illegal for a Franchisor to Negotiate and Modify the Terms of its Franchise Agreement?

Charles Internicola

by Charles Internicola
National Business and Franchise Lawyer

Date: 12/14/2015 | Category: Corporate Counsel | No comments

 

In certain franchise sales settings, franchisees are sometimes led to believe that modifications cannot be legally made to their franchise agreement. That is, to induce a franchisee to sign the franchise agreement – without the benefit of any negotiations or review by a franchise attorney – the franchisee is led to believe that the franchise agreement is a standard agreement (signed by everyone) and that legally the franchisor is not allowed to make any changes. The implication: you might as well just sign the agreement and not waste time or money since we can’t change the franchise agreement even if we wanted to.

Sadly this misstatement/myth leads to a false sense of security and sometimes some big mistakes by prospective franchisees.  To be clear:

  • Franchise agreements are negotiable
  • It is not illegal for a franchisor to modify its franchise agreement
  • It is extremely common for franchisees to negotiate certain aspects of the franchise agreement

Understanding these facts keep in mind that the extent to which a franchisor may be willing to negotiate the terms of its agreement varies depending on the negotiating power of the parties – one major factor includes the financial resources of the franchisee. Also, certain core provisions of a franchise agreement – such as the royalty rate, methods of operation and use of proprietary products – usually are not and should not be subject to change.

Some of the critically important franchise agreement terms that you should be evaluating and potentially negotiating, include:

  • Scope of your protected territory;
  • Grace periods regarding the commencement of royalty obligations;
  • Liquidated damages and liability for early termination;
  • Renewal rights;
  • Transfer rights;
  • Cure periods for alleged defaults; and
  • Potential rights of first refusal.

Depending on your circumstances and concerns there are many other issues that, as a prospective franchisee, you should be considering. However, it is critical that, as a prospective franchisee, you recognize that you have the right to negotiate the terms of your franchise agreement. This right must be taken seriously.

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