Several industry experts give advice about what to look for when seeking counsel to grow a brand through the franchise model
For emerging and well-established franchisors alike, access to an experienced franchise attorney is vital to a brand’s success. Firms that specialize in franchising can be an asset for registering a brand in different states and updating development teams about changes to legal regulations affecting the industry. 1851 Franchise gained insight from several franchisors about what they look for in an attorney partner to grow their business successfully.
For many brands, a deep understanding of the business concept is vital to a successful working relationship between franchisor and attorney. Suleen Lee, General Counsel & Director of Corporate Strategy at The Barre Code emphasized this as advice she would offer any franchisor looking for counsel.
“Make sure that the attorney understands your business because he or she can't effectively counsel you without knowing what the business entails,” Lee said. “The best attorneys understand your goals as well as preferred ways of working together.”
Especially for a concept like The Barre Code, which is led by a team of people passionate about the brand (Lee was an instructor for two years before joining the corporate team), an understanding of the company’s mission and focus is essential.
When seeking legal counsel, any brand leaders will want a partner that can be trusted with sensitive information surrounding compliance, registration and regulations. Therefore, they must have a good sense of judgment.
“A legal firm specializing in franchising can be instrumental in assisting the franchisor in getting their franchise registered in the various states and in educating your franchise development department in the regulations surrounding the franchise sales process,” said Kevin Derella CFE, CM&AA Safegaurd Business Systems, Executive Director Franchise Development. “In the end, they can be instrumental in keeping your sales team from making mistakes that can be costly.”
A great franchise lawyer will tell its clients about the latest developments in franchise law and how they may or will affect the business.
According to a team of executives from BoConcept, a great franchise lawyer will inform them about the latest developments in franchise law and how they may or will affect the business.
Lee shared the sentiment about The Barre Code’s attorneys.
“Cheng Cohen is great about sending us informative updates relating to any parts of the business,” Lee said. “Additionally, they are on the lookout for any industry trends and provide information that can drive business from a legal standpoint.”
While communicating is important, style of communication to fit the brand’s preference is equally important for a franchisor when selecting an attorney. It is important that attorneys do not “over-lawyer” and understand the client’s priority.
“It's important that they are not only knowledgeable but also that they communicate in a way that matches the client,” Lee said.
Michael Wagner, President of Virginia-based Pool Scouts agreed about the value of effective communication.
“Our lawyer from Kaufman and Canoles has been extremely easy to work with when it comes to the development and updating of our FDD for Pool Scouts,” he said “ I can explain our intent and they’re able to translate that into the legal document without a whole lot of back and forth.”
Mastering Franchisee vs. Franchisor Perspectives
Beyond strong communication with the franchisor, it is important that an attorney can communicate to the existing and prospective franchisees.
Wagner added that for both Mosquito Joe and Pool Scouts, owned by Buzz Franchise Brands, Kaufam and Canoles has been able to help the brand translate legalese for all parties into a common-sense approach.
“They’re able to approach each case from a win-win perspective for franchisors and franchisees,” said Pool Scouts President Michael Wagner. “They know that legal battles can be costly and want all parties to focus their resources on growing their business instead of legal battles.”