Would Santa Make a “Naughty or Nice” Franchisee?
Would Santa Make a “Naughty or Nice” Franchisee?

1851 Weighs the Pros and Cons of Jolly Old St. Nick as a Franchise Operator

It’s the holiday season, and that means that every good little franchise development boy and girl are dreaming of a green Christmas, hoping their stockings are stuffed with qualified leads, and could care less about their two front teeth as long as they can land a hefty commission from two multi-unit zees.

But as we end the year with visions of frandev budgets and marketing mix dancing in our heads, 1851 decided to qualify the holliest, jolliest lead of them all: Santa Claus.

Ho ho how would Santa perform as a franchise operator? We bring you this breakdown of the five pros and five cons you should consider if Kris Kringle ever applies through your development website.


Expansion Minded Entrepreneur Who Won’t Take No for an Answer – Based on research presented in the documentary “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (narrated by Fred Astaire), Santa began his empire by scrapping. When the Burgermeister Meisterburger outlaws his burgeoning small business (I mean, could a better metaphor for government regulation exist?) Santa lobbies through proactive means (IFA, anyone?) and ultimately he drives away the regulation. From there, Santa strategically grows his one-town operation into a booming business with global distribution. Just think what he could do to saturate one of your target markets!

Long History of Maximizing Productivity and Efficiency – In the history of business, there are few entrepreneurs who can match the productivity and efficiency of Santa Claus. Long before Henry Ford was optimizing productivity through mass production, Claus had established a North Pole based operation that distributed product literally across the globe. Ignoring the glaringly obvious violations of labor laws, Santa is primed to get the most out of his workforce.

Brand Awareness & Marketing Investment – This guy is a walking billboard synonymous with joy and love. Is there a better brand validator you could snag? Imagine Santa Claus standing in your booth at one of the regional conferences. “Oh, you have an affable 12-unit franchisee who really lives your brand’s culture? Cute. I’ve got friggin’ Santa Claus.”  

Positive Culture Fit – Unless you are Adam & Eve, most brands promote a family-friendly, wholesome culture. (I’ll spare you any assumptions of what Santa and Mrs. Claus do behind closed doors.) Really if your brand’s culture doesn’t fit Santa’s then it’s you and your brand who need to rethink your philosophy

Magic – I mean, this one seems pretty obvious. How does he deliver all of those toys in just one night? Magic. Just think of the application of magic for an emerging concept late to the third-party delivery game. Bingo. No longer is there a need to invest in vendors to make delivery happen. Curious what competitors are up to? Bingo. He can see them when their sleeping and knows when they’re awake. Are underperforming franchisees causing headaches for your ops team? Bingo. Magically a stocking full of coal is all they get on Christmas day with a note that says, “Ho ho ho! Your poor execution on an established model is harming public perception that can negatively impact my market, Jim. Get your yuletide s?!& together, Jim.”


HR Nightmare – It may seem whimsical that Santa makes a list, checks it twice, and then determines who has been naughty and who has been nice – but this could be a big problem is a similar list exists separating team members at his location. Also, Santa’s propensity for inviting people to sit on his lap could pose a big problem for the corporate HR team, especially in the current landscape.

Poor P&L History – However productive and efficient Santa has historically run his North Pole factory, the fact remains that his entire operation is set up to make literally zero profit. It’s hard to account for cookies, milk and the occasional carrot for the reindeer as line items in a budget. The universal love and admiration of children isn’t going to offset those increasing commodities costs, Kringle.

Distrust in the Franchisor/Franchisee Relationship – It’s important to have mutual respect and understanding that both the franchisor and franchisee are working toward a common goal. However, in times when hard decisions must be made that aren’t popular with every single franchisee, it will be difficult to deliver the news to your FAC if the chairman is Santa, who can literally “see you when you’re sleeping” and “knows when you’re awake”. It would be understandable that even the franchisor with the strongest backbone would cave to that hauntingly creepy yuletide passive aggressive threat.

Investment in Technology – It should be telling that even though he could have automated much of his business model decades ago, Claus continues to manufacture strictly through “elfual” labor, the cost of which has continued to balloon in response to population swells across the globe. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, and it’s likely that Santa will not buy-in on your company’s commitment to increased technology.

Magic – Again, this can go both ways. Such is magic. The true nature lies within how it is wielded. So far, documented history shows that Santa Claus will only use his powers for good. That said, he is a shrewd businessman and this could become dangerous should be become disenfranchised with a brand. He’s very clearly shown how easily he can break into any home – including any corporate team member with whom he disagrees.

So there you have it. Make sure that if Santa Claus applies, you take all of this into consideration before he shows up in his sleigh for Discovery Day.

Finally, we’ll leave you with our picks for the very best and the very worst Santa franchise candidates:

Best Santa Franchise Candidate: “Miracle on 34th Street” Santa

What a great company man. Macy’s really lucked out in landing the Santa Claus. And they’re still very much in business while Gimbels shut down three decades ago.

Worst Santa Franchise Candidate: “The Year Without a Santa Claus” Santa

Talk about poor work ethic. This guy works just ONE day a year and gets taken down with a common cold to the point that he threatens to cancel Christmas, laying in his bed and bitching about people not caring to Mrs. Claus. More like Sassy Claus.