Franchise Owner Complaints

Solutions to the top 13 complaints franchise owners have about the franchise industry.

Owning a franchise is an option many budding entrepreneurs consider when thinking about business opportunities. It’s a business model that seems appealing because it can be easier than beginning a small business from the ground up. Instead of starting out with something untried, franchisees invest in something proven. It’s possible for people who want to own a business to run something backed by a brand they love, whether it’s a sub shop, gym, spa, or packaging and shipping operation.

Despite the fact that most franchises are proven concepts and offer training, advice, and support, many franchisees experience challenges when it comes to running one. These were only magnified over the last two years by the pandemic.

In this article, we’ll review some of the most common complaints franchise owners have, along with providing advice on how to resolve the issues related to being a franchisee.

Here are the common franchisee complaints that we’ll cover:

  • Franchisee complaint 1: My franchise is failing.
  • Franchisee complaint 2: Startup costs are too high.
  • Franchisee complaint 3: I’m not very good at…
  • Franchisee complaint 4: My franchise isn’t an overnight success.
  • Franchisee complaint 5: I hate having to work within the system.
  • Franchisee complaint 6: Franchising is riskier than I anticipated.
  • Franchisee complaint 7: Working with the franchiser is NOT what I expected.
  • Franchisee complaint 8: My franchise is taking up my entire life.
  • Franchisee complaint 9: I’m not a great manager.
  • Franchisee complaint 10: I can’t find good people to hire.
  • Franchisee complaint 11: I want to retire but selling my franchise is challenging.
  • Franchisee complaint 12: I find it challenging to deal with customer complaints.
  • Franchisee complaint 13: I don’t understand marketing…

Franchisee complaint 1: My franchise is failing.

Franchises are supposed to take the guesswork out of running a business. They train you on everything you need to do to be successful, including how to write a business plan, market the operation, manage finances, handle regulators, deal with technology, and more. The issue: Following franchise rules isn’t enough. Franchise owners must be aware that hard work and dedication are required to achieve success. Franchisors give you tools, training, and support to help you run your own business, but they won’t run it for you while you sit back and collect the cash. You have to actively manage your franchise and be willing to put in the hard work. You must get your hands dirty to achieve success. The franchise company may have not made that clear in their pitch to you, but it’s reality.

Franchisee complaint 2: Startup costs are too high.

Even before owning a franchise, many people interested in them have a complaint: The cost to own one is too high. When exploring franchise opportunities, they find that the price of entry is prohibitive.

Most franchise owners want to know the net worth of potential franchisees before allowing them to own a franchise. Franchisers are running a business and want to make certain that their investment in franchise operators will pay off. One way to do this is to know you have enough cash on hand to invest in a franchise and run it. Franchises come with start-up and operating costs and franchise fees. Checking finances is a regular and accepted part of the franchise system. It’s important to look at the financial requirements in a positive light. Ask yourself: Would you want to invest in a franchise that you can’t afford which could put your finances at risk?

Franchisee complaint 3: I’m not very good at…

Even though franchisees receive training and support, there are things many can’t wrap their heads around. Whether it’s bookkeeping, cleaning, or setting up and maintaining computer systems, there are things they just can’t do. It leaves them feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and ready to give up. If you feel this way about any aspect of running your franchise, get help. Don’t go it alone. Bring on people you trust to get the support you need. Waiting too long could jeopardize the future of your franchise because it’s likely the areas you’re not good at aren’t getting adequate attention.

Franchisee complaint 4: My new franchise isn’t an overnight success.

Franchising is definitely not a get-rich-quick scam. Franchise ownership can be lucrative for talented people with a strong work ethic. Franchisers want their franchisees to succeed. It’s how they make money and grow. They give them the tools and training on how to efficiently and effectively run their operation. Follow the rules and the business will turn a profit, just not on day one. Patience is a key characteristic franchise owners need. They must stay focused on the big picture, knowing success will eventually come.

Did you know: Taco Bell is the top Franchise business in the United States according to Entrepreneur?

Rounding out the top ten franchise brands are:

  • Dunkin’
  • The UPS Store
  • Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
  • Culver’s
  • Kumon
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs
  • Planet Fitness
  • 7-Eleven
  • Servepro

Another source, Franchise Direct, uses a different ranking system, places McDonald’s in the top spot, and includes Dominos, Ace Hardware, and Century 21 in their top ten.

Franchisee complaint 5: I hate having to work within the system.

Following the franchise operating manual to the letter is critical for maintaining consistency across all franchise locations. People who find it challenging to follow directions or who dislike working within a system often find franchising frustrating. If you feel this way, it’s time to buckle down and live by the rules. It’s what you signed up for. Look for little areas where you can add a bit of uniqueness to your franchise, maybe through your marketing or community involvement.

Franchisee complaint 6: Franchising is riskier than I anticipated.

Many entrepreneurs purchase a franchise rather than start their own business because they view it as less risky. The truth: You still own a business. Even though the franchise provides guidance, advice, and support, the risk is all yours. Don’t let the anxiety about it keep you up at night. Instead, use it to fuel your drive to work hard and succeed.

Franchisee complaint 7: Working with the franchiser is NOT what I expected.

Many people compare buying a franchise to getting married. Both are legal relationships that are meant to last a very long time — and come with surprises. It’s smart to treat your relationship with your franchiser as a marriage. When things go wrong, keep communications going. Have faith that if you did your due diligence, entered into your agreement with them carefully, and read all your contractual paperwork, franchise agreements, and the franchise disclosure document, there’s nothing you can’t work out.

Franchisee complaint 8: My franchise is taking up my entire life.

Franchising takes a big-time commitment. But it shouldn’t take up all your time. You don’t want to end up with a successful business and a failed life. Get help when you need it. No one can run a business on their own. Paying people may cut into your profits, but it will help you stay centered and energized about your business and personal lives.

Did you know: According to the Internal Franchise Association the top industries for franchises are:

  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Home repair and remodeling
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Household furnishings
  • Maintenance and cleaning services
  • Accounting
  • Mail processing
  • Advertising service
  • Package shipping
  • Personnel services
  • Printing services.
  • Automotive repairs and services
  • Environmental services
  • Hair salons
  • Health aids and services
  • Computer and phone repair
  • Clothing stores
  • Children’s services

Franchisee complaint 9: I’m not a great manager.

Some people are more prepared to manage a business than others. They have some business experience and have learned how to manage people. Others may find that managing a franchise doesn’t come easy to them. The good news is that management skills are something you can learn. At some point every business owner has and you can too. Find out if your franchise offers management training or if they can recommend someone or an organization to help you out.

Franchisee complaint 10: I can’t find good people to hire.

You’re definitely not alone if you’re experiencing this. All businesses are going through a hiring crunch, whether they’re looking for full-time or part-time employees. Don’t give up! Get creative and identify new sources of workers. Consider partnering with a local college or try to attract people who have retired and may be interested in going back to work part-time. See if you can offer unique benefits or services to employees that will make working for you more attractive.

Franchisee complaint 11: I want to retire but selling my franchise is challenging.

Franchise companies purposely make it difficult to get out of their deals. After all, they don’t want to develop popular locations only to have franchise owners give up on them in a year or two. If you’ve worked hard for your franchise for a long time and built a successful operation, your franchise company should be willing to help you transfer ownership. If you find it challenging, a legal expert with franchise experience should be able to help you out.

Franchisee complaint 12: I find it challenging to deal with customer complaints.

No one wants to hear complaints about the business they own and the hard work they do, but it’s a part of doing business. Don’t take customer complaints seriously and never let them get you down. Instead, use them as an opportunity to demonstrate great customer service. Turning an unhappy customer into a pleased one is a powerful thing. It could transform someone who doesn’t like you into an advocate. Make it a point to respond to every negative rating, review, comment, complaint form or call as soon as it happens. (Always ask for contact information so you can get back to them.) It’s a great way to demonstrate that you care about your customers. If you can’t do it on your own, involve the people on your team.

Franchisee complaint 13: I don’t understand marketing…

This is a common issue with most entrepreneurs, whether they own a company or franchise. They’re good at what they do, but not necessarily at promoting it. Marketing takes a completely different mindset than entrepreneurship does. Marketing is one area that many franchise owners outsource to an agency or freelancer. It’s likely that you’ll be able to find someone online who specializes in developing and executing marketing campaigns for franchises like yours.

Want to learn more about franchising?

  • Check out Biz2Credit’s eBook on the topic.
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) is also a great source of information about franchises. This article is an example.
  • Your state’s attorney general website may also be a good source of information. New York’s is particularly robust.
  • The International Franchise Organization (IFA) also provides answers to frequently asked questions about franchising on its website.


Have you noticed one thing in common with these franchiser complaints and their resolution? In most of them, all it takes is a change of mindset to turn a complaint into a solution. When you find yourself in challenging situations, take a step back and gain perspective. It’s likely that a small change of attitude is all it takes to make things right.

Interested in getting financing for your franchise? Check out all the options available through Biz2Credit.

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