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Understanding Franchise Law: Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) - Item 11: Franchisor's Assistance, Advertising, Computer Systems, and Training

When considering a franchise opportunity, potential franchisees must thoroughly understand the support and resources the franchisor will provide. Item 11 of the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) is crucial as it outlines the franchisor's assistance, advertising strategies, computer systems, and training programs. This comprehensive guide will delve into the specifics of Item 11, helping you make an informed decision about entering a franchise agreement.

Contact us by either using the online form or calling us directly at 414-253-8500 to learn more.

Understanding Item 11: An Overview

Item 11 of the FDD provides detailed information about the franchisor's obligations concerning:

  • Initial and ongoing training programs
  • Marketing and advertising support
  • Required computer systems and technology support
  • Ongoing assistance

Item 11 Requirements

The FDD disclosure requirements are codified under the Federal Trade Commission's Amended Franchise Rule, 16 C.F.R. §436 et seq. (the “FTC Rule”). In particular, the information that must be disclosed under Item 11 is codified at § 436.5(k). Under Item 11, the FTC Rule requires disclosure of a franchisor's obligations under the relevant franchise agreement to furnish assistance to franchisees and help with advertising, computer systems, training, and operating manuals.

Franchisor Assistance Obligations

Under Item 11, franchisors must disclose their obligations, as set forth in the franchise agreement, to furnish assistance to franchisees. This includes both pre-opening and post-opening obligations. The general rule is that the FDD should contain only those disclosures required by the FTC Rule. Optional assistance not required by the franchise agreement but offered by the franchisor should be clearly identified.

Format Requirement: At the top of Item 11, franchisors must provide the statement: “Except as listed below, [the franchisor] is not required to provide you with any assistance.” Each obligation disclosed must reference the section in the franchise agreement where that obligation is found.

Pre-Opening Obligations

The FTC Rule requires franchisors to disclose actions they must take before the franchise opens, such as:

  • Locating and negotiating the site:

    • Whether the franchisor generally owns the premises and leases it to the franchisee.
    • Whether the franchisor selects the site or approves an area in which the franchisee selects a site. If so, how the franchisor must approve a franchisee-selected site.
    • The factors considered in site selection or approval, such as location, traffic patterns, parking, size, and lease terms.
    • Time limits for site approval and consequences if an agreement isn't reached.
  • Conforming the premises to local ordinances and building codes.

  • Constructing, remodeling, or decorating the premises.

  • Hiring and training employees.

  • Providing necessary equipment, signs, fixtures, opening inventory, and supplies:

    • Whether the franchisor provides these items directly or only provides the names of approved suppliers.
    • Whether the franchisor provides written specifications for these items.
    • Whether the franchisor delivers or installs these items.

Typical Length of Time to Open Franchise

Franchisors must provide an estimated range for the typical length of time between the signing of the franchise agreement or the first payment and the opening of the franchise. Factors that may affect this timeframe include:

  • Ability to obtain a lease, financing, or building permits.
  • Zoning and local ordinances.
  • Weather conditions.
  • Shortages or delays in equipment, fixtures, and signs installation.

Post-Opening (Continuing) Assistance

Franchisors must disclose any post-opening obligations, such as:

  • Developing products or services.
  • Hiring and training employees.
  • Improving and developing the franchised business.
  • Establishing prices.
  • Administrative, bookkeeping, and inventory control procedures.
  • Resolving operating problems.

Marketing and Advertising Support

Effective marketing and advertising are essential for brand recognition and customer acquisition. Item 11 will outline:

  1. National Advertising Fund: Contributions to a national or regional advertising fund, supporting large-scale marketing campaigns.
  2. Local Advertising: Guidelines and support for franchisee-led local advertising efforts, such as:
    • Advertising Materials: Access to professionally designed marketing materials.
    • Media Strategies: Recommendations for local media buys and promotions.
  3. Digital Marketing: Support with online marketing strategies, including:
    • Social Media Management: Assistance in setting up and managing social media profiles.
    • SEO and SEM: Search engine optimization and marketing strategies to drive online traffic.
  4. Brand Guidelines: Ensuring consistency in brand messaging and visual identity across all marketing efforts.

Advertising Program Details

Franchisors must disclose:

  • The franchisor's obligation to conduct advertising, including the media used, coverage areas (local, regional, or national), and sources of advertising.
  • Circumstances when franchisees can use their own advertising material.
  • Information about any advertising council composed of franchisees, including selection methods, advisory or decision-making power, and the franchisor's power to form, change, or dissolve the council.
  • Franchisee participation in local or regional advertising cooperatives, including:
    • Area or membership definitions.
    • Contribution amounts and rates.
    • Administration responsibilities.
    • Availability of governing documents and financial statements for review.
    • The franchisor's power to form, change, dissolve, or merge cooperatives.
  • Participation in other advertising funds, including contribution details, administration, and financial accountability.

Types of Marketing and Advertising Support

Support Type Description Examples

National Advertising Fund

Contributions to a fund that supports large-scale marketing campaigns.

Television ads, national print ads, online campaigns

Local Advertising

Guidelines and support for franchisee-led local advertising efforts.

Local newspaper ads, community events, local SEO

Digital Marketing

Strategies to enhance online presence and customer engagement.

Social media management, SEO, SEM

Advertising Materials

Professionally designed marketing materials provided by the franchisor.

Flyers, brochures, banners

Media Strategies

Recommendations for effective local media buys and promotions.

Radio ads, local TV commercials

Brand Guidelines

Ensures consistency in brand messaging and visual identity across all marketing efforts.

Brand style guides, approved logos and fonts

Required Computer Systems and Technology Support

Modern franchises rely heavily on technology for efficient operations. Item 11 provides details on:

  1. Mandatory Computer Systems: Specifications for the required hardware and software, such as:
    • Point of Sale (POS) Systems: For managing sales transactions and inventory.
    • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software: Tools for managing customer interactions and data.
    • Inventory Management Systems: Software for tracking stock levels and orders.
  2. Technology Support: Ongoing support for maintaining and updating these systems, including:
    • Helpdesk Services: Assistance with technical issues.
    • System Updates: Regular updates to ensure the technology remains current and secure.
  3. Data Security: Protocols for safeguarding sensitive customer and business information.

Disclosure of Franchise Operating Manual

Franchisors must disclose the table of contents of their operating manual, the number of pages devoted to each subject, and the total number of pages. If the manual is online, a description of how the content is structured should be provided. This disclosure may be omitted if the franchisor offers prospective franchisees the opportunity to view the manual before buying the franchise.

Training Program

Franchisors must provide details about their training programs, including:

  • Subjects Taught
  • Hours of Classroom Training
  • Hours of On-the-Job Training
  • Training Locations

Example Table for Training Program:

Subject Hours of Classroom Training Hours of On-the-Job Training Location

Operations Training



New York, NY

Store Opening Assistance



Franchised Location

Additional details required include the frequency of training classes, instructional materials, instructor qualifications, any charges for training, travel and living expenses, and who must attend training.

Importance of Item 11 in the Franchise Decision-Making Process

Thoroughly understanding Item 11 of the FDD is essential for prospective franchisees. It provides a clear picture of the support structure, which can significantly impact the success and profitability of the franchise. Key benefits include:

  • Reduced Risk: Comprehensive training and support reduce the risk of operational mistakes.
  • Consistent Quality: Adherence to brand standards ensures consistent product and service quality.
  • Business Growth: Effective marketing and technology support facilitate customer acquisition and retention.

For those considering a franchise, it's crucial to closely examine Item 11 of the FDD. Ensure the support offered aligns with your needs and expectations, and seek legal advice if necessary to fully understand the commitments and obligations.

Evaluating the Franchisor's Support: Key Considerations

When reviewing Item 11 of the FDD, prospective franchisees should evaluate the franchisor's support critically. Here are key considerations:

Depth and Breadth of Training Programs

  1. Training Duration: Assess the length of the initial training program. Ensure it is sufficient to cover all aspects of running the franchise.
  2. Training Location: Determine whether training is conducted at the franchisor's headquarters, a regional office, or the franchisee's location.
  3. Trainer Qualifications: Evaluate the experience and qualifications of the trainers. Experienced trainers can provide more valuable insights and practical knowledge.
  4. Comprehensive Curriculum: Ensure the training program covers all essential areas, including operations, management, marketing, and customer service.

Effectiveness of Marketing and Advertising Support

  1. National vs. Local Advertising: Understand the balance between national advertising campaigns and local marketing efforts. National campaigns enhance brand recognition, while local efforts drive foot traffic to your specific location.
  2. Advertising Contributions: Clarify the amount and frequency of contributions to the national advertising fund. Assess whether these contributions are reasonable and how effectively they are utilized.
  3. Digital Marketing Strategies: Examine the franchisor's approach to digital marketing. Effective use of social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and search engine marketing (SEM) can significantly impact your franchise's visibility.
  4. Marketing Materials: Check if the franchisor provides customizable marketing materials that can be tailored to local markets.

Robustness of Required Computer Systems

  1. System Requirements: Ensure you understand the hardware and software requirements. Confirm that these systems are up-to-date and capable of handling the demands of your business.
  2. Integration Capabilities: Evaluate how well the required systems integrate with each other. Seamless integration between POS, CRM, and inventory management systems is crucial for efficient operations.
  3. Technical Support: Verify the availability and quality of technical support. Prompt and effective support can prevent operational disruptions.
  4. Cost Considerations: Consider the initial and ongoing costs of the required technology. Ensure these costs are reasonable and within your budget.

Level of Ongoing Assistance and Field Support

  1. Frequency of Field Visits: Determine how often field representatives will visit your franchise. Regular visits can provide valuable guidance and ensure adherence to brand standards.
  2. Scope of Support: Assess the range of support services offered, from operational assistance to performance monitoring. Comprehensive support can enhance your business's efficiency and profitability.
  3. Feedback Mechanisms: Check if there are structured mechanisms for providing feedback to the franchisor. Open communication channels can foster a collaborative relationship and address any concerns promptly.
  4. Peer Networking: Evaluate opportunities for networking with other franchisees. Sharing experiences and best practices can be immensely beneficial.
Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is Item 11 in the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD)?

Item 11 in the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) outlines the support and assistance a franchisor will provide to franchisees. This includes details on initial and ongoing training programs, marketing and advertising support, required computer systems and technology support, and ongoing operational assistance. Understanding Item 11 is crucial for potential franchisees to evaluate the level of support they can expect from the franchisor.

2. Why is initial training important for franchisees?

Initial training is vital for franchisees as it provides them with the foundational knowledge and skills needed to operate the franchise successfully. This training typically covers operational procedures, product knowledge, sales techniques, and management practices. Comprehensive initial training ensures that franchisees can uphold brand standards and deliver consistent quality to customers from day one.

3. How does the franchisor's advertising support benefit franchisees?

The franchisor's advertising support benefits franchisees by enhancing brand recognition and driving customer traffic. This support often includes contributions to a national advertising fund for large-scale marketing campaigns and guidelines for local advertising efforts. Effective advertising strategies, including digital marketing and social media management, help franchisees attract and retain customers, thereby increasing their chances of success.

4. What are the typical computer systems required by franchisors?

Franchisors typically require franchisees to use specific computer systems to ensure operational efficiency and consistency. These systems often include point of sale (POS) systems for managing transactions and inventory, customer relationship management (CRM) software for handling customer interactions, and inventory management systems for tracking stock levels. These technologies streamline operations and provide valuable data for business decisions.

5. What kind of ongoing assistance can franchisees expect from franchisors?

Franchisees can expect various forms of ongoing assistance from franchisors, including regular field support visits, operational support, performance monitoring, and opportunities for peer networking. Field representatives often visit franchise locations to provide hands-on assistance and ensure compliance with brand standards. Additionally, franchisors may offer continuous training, workshops, and seminars to keep franchisees updated with the latest industry trends and best practices.

Contact a Franchise Attorney for Legal Assistance

Contact a Franchise Attorney for Legal Assistance

In conclusion, Item 11 of the Franchise Disclosure Document is a vital section that outlines the franchisor's assistance, advertising strategies, computer systems, and training programs. By thoroughly reviewing this section, prospective franchisees can gain a clear understanding of the support they will receive and make informed decisions about entering a franchise agreement.

The franchisor's support structure, including comprehensive training, effective marketing, robust technology systems, and ongoing assistance, plays a crucial role in the success of a franchise. Prospective franchisees should carefully evaluate these elements to ensure they align with their needs and expectations.

For personalized legal advice and further assistance in evaluating franchise opportunities, contact an experienced franchise attorney at Heritage Law Office. We are committed to helping you navigate the complexities of franchise law and make informed decisions that align with your business goals.

Contact us by either using the online form or calling us directly at 414-253-8500 to learn more.

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