Is the Franchise Agreement or Business Model to Blame in the Event of Insolvency?

There are now over 1,000 franchisor businesses and 79,000 franchisee businesses in Australia generating $150 billion revenue, $12 billion worth of profit and employing 450,000 people. Franchising contributes 13% to Australia’s GDP. These are significant numbers for the Australian economy.

Franchises have however, been in the spotlight and not for the right reasons. Several high-profile franchisees have recently been placed into an insolvency administration including Max Brenner, Subway, Snap Fitness and Toys R’ Us just to name a few. Several failed franchisees have been scrutinised for failing to pay employees the appropriate employee award rates whereby business owners claiming that the franchisor did not provide sufficient training and/or the business model was established in such a way that the business could not succeed.

Like any investment, a potential franchisee should exercise thorough due diligence prior to entering into a franchise agreement and particular consideration regarding the following:

  1. Understanding the fine print

ranchise agreements can be complicated and may include clauses that provide for royalties, marketing fees and upfront costs to the franchisor. Often the terms of the franchise agreements can be the difference between a business operating as a ‘cash cow’ or a ‘money pit’. It is important to note that franchises are set up to make the franchisor money at the expense of the franchisee. It is recommended that a potential franchisee engage a solicitor to review the franchise agreement and advise of all risks and obligations.


  1. Branding

Strong branding will develop customer loyalty, customer retention and a competitive advantage. Branding under a franchise model is managed by the franchisor who will often put clauses in the franchise agreement to protect the brand such as the requirement to engage certain suppliers, fit out requirements and ongoing training.


  1. Franchisor Support

Franchisors are not bound by legislation to provide a certain level of franchisee support. A potential franchisee should consider whether the franchise agreement caters for franchisor support including ongoing training and marketing. I recommend that a potential franchisee speak to current franchisees regarding their experience with the franchisor.


  1. Control

If the potential franchisee is looking for autonomy then a franchise may not be the right business model. Franchisees are held accountable to the franchisor with many aspects of the business controlled by the franchisor.


  1. Business life cycle

Understanding where the franchise sits in its business life cycle (i.e. start up, growth, established, decline) is key to understanding the franchise risk. The risk and reward should always correlate to the investor’s risk appetite.

Before entering into a franchise agreement, it is important to have a comprehensive understanding of the pitfalls and benefits to ensure the business operates in a sustainable environment. It is recommended that professional legal advice is sought prior to entering any business arrangement. If you’re having issues with a franchise arrangement or your franchise is facing financial challenges, it is vital that professional advice is sought sooner rather than later to mitigate further loss or exposure to risk.

If you’re concerned about your financial position or franchise arrangement, you can contact the C&D team for an obligation-free consultation on 1300 023 782 or email