BC Liberals Step Up Game on BC Franchise Legislation

BC Liberals Step Up Game on BC Franchise Legislation

There are rumours that the BC Liberals are taking action on a bill put forward by Carol James of the BC NDP. This is nothing but good news and has begun to restore confidence in the BC Liberals amongst the thousands of franchisees across the province.

Until now, the BC Liberals have remained silent on the topic, even though extensive research and consultation has gone into the topic and came back overwhelmingly in favour of the need to adopt the franchise legislation already in place in most Canadian provinces.

“I visited my MLS Scott Hamilton who displayed a genuine interest in the bill and has assured me that he will be following up on it.” reported Wayne Taylor, operator of Franchisepro.ca. “Most policitians and people in general have no idea how negatively the current justice system is affecting BC families. It’s something most people just can’t imagine is happening behind these friendly logos they see on the streets they walk.”

BC is one of the last remaining provinces to adopt the legislation which has left many wondering about the ethics governing the province. Comparisions have been made to the property disclosure statement in a real estate transaction. “As a listing realtor, if I know of something so serious that the purchase of a home could turn into a disaster, I’m required to disclose that on the Property Disclosure Statement (PDS). Everyone would agree not showing something material like this is wrong. So why then can franchisors be part of passing a knowingly bad deal without such disclosure?” continued Taylor. “I personally know two grown men who have contemplated suicide, one of which would have left behind a family. I know of one divorce and multiple bankruptcies. If I didn’t have the support of my wife and two loving parents, I seriously have no idea where I would be today psychologically. It’s brutal out there and I just keep meeting more victims with each passing day.”

The BC Franchise Legislation Bill was brought to the table back in December of 2014. Carol James and Adrian Dix took the initiative to bring the bill forward and question the BC Liberals about why this legislation is not tabled. “Scott Hamilton was unsure why the bill had not been dealt with but has assured me that he will look into it and follow it up for me which is great. I have renewed hope that 2015 will be the beginning of a more healthy franchise environment” Taylor concluded.

Chewy Junior – A New Addition to the Canadian Franchise Scene

chewy

Chewy Junior, a cream puff franchise from Asia (do they come from anywhere else?) has just launched their first Canadian flagship location in Vancouver.

This light article at Wayne Out There sheds some light on the Chewy experience.

Part of the Chewy Junior story is founder Kevin Ong’s repeated failure in business.  Failure in business will typically lead the casualty in one of two directions: a) towards eventual success if they recalibrate and don’t quit or b) towards a jaded life of anger towards the world that has wronged them (or so they believe).  Based on our quick review, it looks like Chewy may be on the former, not the latter path.

There is no question that the Chewy Junior product offering is both unique in the market (there aren’t that many cream puff shops in your average block) but also further unique in that they offer a very high quality product with an amazing display.  A quick look in the new flagship store display fridge and the customer will find it very difficult to resist taking a box home.

Wagers are already on as to whether or not such a concept will succeed, but before you wager, make sure you both see and eat one because from our first reports, experiencing is believing.

“…experiencing is believing.”

Stay tuned for more on Chewy Junior and other Vancouver franchises.

chewy

Yet Another Prestigious Blenz Closes: Pacific Centre on Granville

Blenz Investor Alert: Danger!

Blenz Pacific Centre Shuts its doors

Blenz Pacific Centre Shuts its doors

If you were considering investing in the once powerful and quickly growing Blenz Coffee, and you noticed that they were losing prestigious retail location after prestigious location every few months, you might be wise to do a little extra research.

Blenz loses location to another clothing retailer

Blenz loses location to another clothing retailer

The sudden closure of the Blenz Coffee at Pacific Centre this week is just one of now many in a string of closures over the last 24 months.

You can read all about the different closures here:

Blenz Coffee Bayswater

Blenz Coffee Burrard and Robson

Blenz Coffee St. Paul’s Hospital: It was owned by a Franchisee, then by the Burrard Hotel, then suddenly all signs of Blenz disappeared and they now sell JJ Bean)

Blenz Coffee Cambie @ 17th

Blenz Coffee Hastings @ Howe

But it doesn’t end there.

Another red flag that started waving a few months ago that should have raised a few eyebrows was the sudden and quiet sell off of what was previously their pride and joy: the Library Square Corporate Training Centre where they hosted public events and tried out innovative drink ideas.  Within a flash it had been halved in size and sold off to a fresh new ‘franchise partner’.

Another even more devastating blow to the brand are the growing number of lawsuits against the former Vancouver coffee powerhouse including one filed by a small group of franchisees and another by a previous head office employee.

Will Blenz Coffee be able to pull out of the obvious tailspin?  Will Mark West, be able to save the day?

Stay tuned for more news on Blenz Coffee and other coffee related news.

The Wired Monk Selected by Fox TV as one of the ‘Coolest Places on Earth’

For those of you interested in franchising, coffee, coffee shops and Canada, you will likely be very interested in the latest news we received on The Wired Monk:

Wired Monk Coffee Bistros has been chosen as one of the “Coolest Places on Earth”!  In the episode airing this Saturday titled “The Wilds of Western Canada and the Territories”, we are featured as the most popular cafe in the place known for it’s great coffee. We were chosen, as people connected with the show had recently visited BC and felt that Wired Monk was the “coolest place” they had been.

The episode airs on Fox TV in BC (it is the Seattle affiliate KCPQ) and will air at 9:00 am Saturday, May 3, 2014.  Please check your local listings.  This show will be replayed once more in 2014 and at least once in 2015.

Is Blaq Sheep a Black Sheep in the Coffee Industry?

Is Blaq Sheep a Black Sheep in the Coffee Industry?

A new player seems to be entering the Vancouver coffee market – Blaq Sheep Fine Coffee.  Although they have a website, it does not do any justice to the actual brand experience which indicates further that something is bubbling under the surface.  For example, on the day of this post, you can go through most pages of their website and not come across their very cool logo of the sheep.  Yet, a quick search the image section of a major search engine will reveal a more accurate display of their shops, signage, and branding in general.

So what is a black sheep?  Turning to the never-failing and always true Wikipedia we read that  a black sheep is usually a negative term of someone who doesn’t fit in or has gone wayward.  Essentially, it’s someone awkward, eccentric, or ‘too unique’ who doesn’t fit in with the crowd.  But don’t forget that Jesus left the herd to go and find the one sheep that went sideways.  Jesus cared deeply about the one black sheep.  The most well-read book in the history of the world, the Bible, constantly teaches that it’s not wise to follow the herd (those who surround you) because they are heading towards destruction.

But what does this mean in the Vancouver coffee industry?

This means opportunity.

Vancouver is saturated up the yin-yang and out the other side with coffee shops, but if you ask espresso drinkers where the good coffee is, there aren’t too many enthusiastic replies.  In a land with so many coffee shops (and sushi shops while we’re at it), most of them seem to fit under a handful of brands. When you get out of the Kitsilano, Gastown, Main Street or the Commercial Drive ‘coffee zones’, the story gets even worse.  So, for a city that has so many coffee shops, there is a surprisingly low number of either extremely high quality shops, or shops that are stepping out on a limb to be different.  Most of them are slight variations of each other but following a very similar model of Italian espresso drinks with some pastries and the odd panini – nothing wrong with that and there is probably good arguments against breaking what might not be broken, but where are the boat-rockers or the feather-rufflers?

Blaq Sheep Fine Coffee, on the other hand, appears to be totally separating themselves from the herd.  Our first reports are that they have a ‘very good coffee’, unique and good food program, and a decent selection of alcoholic drinks coupled with a unique atmosphere.  Their slogan on their sandwich board ‘Outstanding in our Field’ right under their logo should be both entertaining to the customer, but a concern to competitors.  It’s a bold statement of who they are and what they are planning.

It will be interesting to learn more about their products, their business model and ‘black sheepness’ of their branding as they grow from two locations.

blaq-sheep-logo

 

Vancouver Franchise 1-800-Got-Junk? Celebrates 25 birthday

Anyone interested in the franchising business model, especially in the Vancouver area, should take keen interest in this article written about the history and success of the famous junk company 1-800-Got-Junk?, and not just because it was birthed here.

For the entrepreneurs, the most intriguing part of the article will be the David and Goliath aspect of how Brian Scudamore put his own challenges aside and courageously went the road less travelled.  For the person who tried this path and lost for whatever reason, there is a deep-rooted, heart-warming and tear-jerking sense of ‘way to go, kid’ – like how you feel when the underdog hits the home run in a movie.  It is usually followed by a kind of depressing feeling as we think about how much money we lost trying to travel a similar road (or even roads…).  One thing is certain and that this is one of the most inspiring entrepreneurial stories because of the perceived ‘simplicity’ of the business.  Anyone could start a business picking up garbage, couldn’t they?  How is this any more revolutionary than the guy who picks the cans out of my recycling bin (without my permission please note) every Wednesday evening?  For the student studying business, this should be their first chapter example.  They should pose this question in bold italics at the top of the opening page.  Then, they should have Brian Scudamore come in and blow their minds open with what it was really like building a large company.  It would not be surprising if ninety percent of the students in that class were to drop out and change majors while the other 10% went on to build similarly inspiring companies.

Anyone considering any kind of business, should pay special heed to the following extraction from the article:

“When the time came to franchise, well-meaning friends and colleagues said junk removal could never be franchised.”

This is the first lesson learned in every business.  Avoid well-meaning friends and family at all costs.  Thankfully Mr. Scudamore was able to block out their noise.

Another important part of this story is how Scudamore was quoted as feeling like he was getting more out of building his business than from attending school.  Our current education system is very much like our well-meaning friends and family.  It tries to do the best it can but it’s built by people who are incubated and hatched in school where they where they set goals to eventually teach in them and ultimately retire from them.  They do their best to teach the stuff they should but they fail quite notably to teach finances and business – especially in the arena of creativity and boldness.  At what point were any of us encouraged to be different from each other?  There are countless stories of getting penalized for such behaviour, though.

Franchising, as many have learned from reading our articles, is a very different business model compared to the corporate structure.  The successful franchise (over the long term) is able to create legitimate win-win relationships.  In a successful franchise, the Franchisee feels content when their Franchisor is making money because they are making money too.  Although we have not even begun to investigate the satisfaction level of 1-800-Got-Junk? Franchisees, we would not be surprised if we discovered just such a synergy.

We look forward to hearing stories of successful franchising as 1-800-Got-Junk? grows.

 

British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI) Releases Report on a Franchise Act in British Columbia

Members of the VCSFA had an opportunity to meet with Greg Blue of the British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI) approximately one year ago where we had the chance to hear more about the plans for a proposed Franchise Act for BC.  We created this post shortly after this meeting.

At this point, it was in the ‘consultation phase’ where feedback was being gathered by stakeholders in the franchise industry.  To read the original document, you can click this link and download it directly or go to the Franchise Act Project page at the BCLI.

We are pleased to announce that the conclusions from the consultation phase have now been compiled into this document: Report on a Franchise Act for British Columbia which can also be viewed/downloaded from the BCLI project page above.

In the near future, we will write a report with our feedback on the report.

The VCSFA would like to extend our most sincere thanks to Greg Blue and all the others who contributed to this worthwhile project as it has already contributed to the exposure of the oftentimes questionable nature of the Franchise-Franchisor relationship in general, but especially in BC, and will most certainly help any potential buyer (who does their due diligence) avoid some of the common pitfalls prevalent in the industry,

 

 

Second Cup Gets Serious Hires Former Starbucks Marketing Person Alix Box

February 3rd, 2014 it was announced that Alix Box, a former marketing person for Starbucks (and Holt Renfrew) was brought on to Second Cup as CEO.   If you are in the coffee business in Canada, this announcement would force you to take notice, but if you are in the coffee *franchise* business business, this announcement should have you somewhat concerned.

In Vancouver, Second Cup used to enjoy a fairly strong presence around town – at least to the extent that when you said the name most people knew what it was and where you could find one.  Over the years, they were slowly ground out of the business as more aggressive local franchise chains overshadowed them and the demand for higher quality drove customers to more boutique options. Many can still remember when Second Cup was ‘the place to meet’ in Richmond Centre until a few years ago when even that location evaporated into thin air.  Now there are just three locations in Vancouver – two of which I had no idea about.

But that may soon change.

If there is ever a place in the world a chain can test their coffee skills, Vancouver is it.  Perhaps Second Cup will put the gloves back on in Vancouver in an attempt to redeem the territory on which other Vancouver coffee franchises have taken from them.  If Second Cup can provide a win-win business model for their Franchisees (while avoiding the Supreme Court), provide a very high quality offering for their customers, launch branding that distinguishes them and replaces their fairly generic flavour, and re-launch with a bang – they have a fighting chance.  Vancouverites, if they like your brand, will give their loyalty.

 

Blenz Coffee Involved in Growing Number of Lawsuits

We were informed today that at least two lawsuits have been filed in the Supreme Court against Blenz the Canadian Coffee Company LTD so far in 2014 – and it’s only March!

blenz_lawsuits_2014

CLICK TO SEE DETAILS

Following our usual protocol here at the VCSFA of verifying information before sharing, we searched and confirmed the report .  A quick trip to the Court Services Online (an online service for seeing what’s going on in the courts) revealed two separate filings for 2014 already.

An individual, Jacobo (#140041), and a group of three, Taylor, Kormi, and Sahdra (#141773) are listed as Plaintiffs and Blenz Coffee as Defendants.

Also listed as a Defendant in the group case is “Moadebi“.  A quick internet search reveals this individual as a commercial agent.

We have not yet obtained the court documents associated with these listings (available for a $6.00 fee for download).

As always, please continue to share information like this with us so that we can remain the source for coffee shop franchise information in Vancouver.

 

How a Few Law Suits Can Really Cripple a Franchise

Global TV aired a very, very damning broadcast about Zerona Canada today.  If you have been reading our articles at the VCSFA, you would not have been surprised at the kind of behaviour.

The summary of the lessons that one should take away from this unfortunate story are as follows:

  • Even a great product (or service) cannot make a business fly on its own
  • Franchisors make lots of claims that should be checked and then checked again
  • This pain would have continued and never been exposed if these courageous owners didn’t fight the dominant power – and yes, a franchisee is in a position of weakness before they sign up for the deal.
  • Support (or lack thereof) is *absolutely rampant* in franchising.  Amongst most cases we’ve seen you can only be sure you are getting one thing – the name.  Everything above that is [sadly] a bonus
  • Franchisors: you can only burn so many bridges before the skeletons of your past close in from all sides and you have no where to run but to the judge for mercy

As always, we are here to help franchisees of coffee shops – and beyond.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at the VCSFA