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June 2–4

Washington Convention Center

The Industry

franchisers (“zors”) and franchisees (“zees”)

The Attendees

10,000–15,000 concept peddlers and aspiring entrepreneurs

The Issues

Making Your Brand Idiot-Proof: “It’s pretty crazy how some franchisees bastardize the brand,” warned one presenter. Describing how one franchiser found out by a fluke that a zee had “distorted the brand position…harming the entire brand,” he recommended providing “turnkey programs” that include guides covering every detail, ads that allow only for the insertion of outlet name and address, and crisis-management scripts.

New Concepts: OXXO Care Cleaners offers the convenience of 24/7 dry-cleaning drop-offs and ATM-style window pickups that accept prepaid cards. GoCar offers travelers a cool, roofless, GPS-guided, storytelling vehicle that talks, navigates, and serves as a personal tour guide. What if it rains? Said a rep: “Franchisees can provide ponchos.”

Franchising War Stories: Panelists’ true-life tales included one overseas zee who employed the franchiser’s business strategies, then changed the name slightly and skipped the franchising fee. In the Middle East, a hotel’s director of finance was rear-ended by a local—and arrested on the premise that if he hadn’t been in the country, the accident would not have taken place. Lesson: “Don’t assume legal structures and cultural norms are the same elsewhere.”—Rob Tierney