January 19, 2009


Nobody has a franchise on what is good.
--- Ron Silver

So many ways to make money. Small risk. Large reward. Plus recession-proofing. How can you lose?

That's the message from the Toronto Franchise Show which I attended with my son Jeevan at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The room was surprisingly small and attendance was low. Less crowded than a grocery store on Saturday afternoon.

There were business ideas for everyone ranging from food to movie rentals to hauling junk to solar panels. Most franchises had an up-front charge, ongoing revenue splitting and ongoing charges for marketing.

Your brain gets numb within minutes. With so many vendors, how can an excellent, unique idea stand out?

B Players
Major franchisers like McDonalds, Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire and Pizza Pizza stayed away. This left smaller companies, including some we never heard of before. Luckily, there were plenty of samples from food-related businesses.

Pleasant Surprise
Representatives from the Canada Revenue Agency were present to answer questions. The provincial government offers help in starting small business and representatives described how.

A franchise costs you money. Would you like one that's free and puts money in your pocket? Sounds good, but that's just another name for a job. What's the catch? You sell insurance and investment products on commission. Several companies were recruiting new advisors.

One company offered small vending machines for nonconventional locations like staff rooms at car dealerships. Apparently we eat junk food in recessions too. Following a five minute presentation, we were all to get a DVD with more details. A weak lure.

When finished, the presenter brought out a stack of cheap-looking Pepsi t-shirts, gave out two and put the rest back!?! Naturally, attendees expected all of them to be given out. The next prize was a collapsible cooler with a built-in radio. A $60 value! Who wants one? Everyone who put their hands up was told they would get one. Huh? They were chintzy with the t-shirts. What's the catch? You had to attend an offsite presentation.

Finally, we were told we could get a free promotional kit with no strings attached. Except you had to register for the offsite presentation. Not us.

The Call To Action
You did not need your cheque book or credit card. Vendors simply wanted you to register for an offsite seminar or agree to accept phone calls (a way around the Do Not Call restrictions). We were not interested enough to bother. We headed to the nearest Tim Hortons to enjoy the benefits of a franchise without owning one.


1 comment:

  1. Promod, it is very likely that the vending machine opportunity was what is called a business opportunity fraud - the selling of distributorship without the proper disclosure. I have a number of articles on the subject at bizop.ca.