How Closely are Franchising Secrets Held? Is There a Good Reason?
As any good pop culture lore, there's a common understanding among franchises: that their secrets are kept under lock and key. That only one or two people know a certain recipe at any given time. That their business model is a perfect anomaly, which took years to achieve. Or that their car grease comes from deep sea SCUBA diving trips that only take place under a full moon. And so on.
Whatever it is – you get the picture. Franchises are often surrounded by rumors of secrecy and tedious steps that may or may not be true. With growth comes curiosity, as well as questions surrounding what's real vs. what's some distant rumor.
And if it's part of the business model, brands will let the rumors fly. This type of mysterious nature keeps customers wondering, and it keeps them top of mind, if only to question if something they hears was actually true. Secrecy keeps franchises topical, and it draws in shoppers to see what all the fuss is about.
But how many of those secrets are real? And are brands all as secretive as we say they are?
It depends on the brand.
For some, recipes, trade secrets, business plans, and more are all kept under a literal lock and key. That's part of the brand itself – keeping everything a secret at all times. It adds to the allure. Obviously, as a franchise, company protocol must be shared with location owners, which is why contracts list specifics, such as what information can change hands.
Others, however, are far less secretive than their reputation may have you believe. With a little Googling, much can be found; facts just aren't a matter of public knowledge (without digging).
Then, there is a growing population of "tell everything" brands, where their entire model is about being open and honest about everything. Including what they put in their cleaning products, what types of profit margins they hold, and so on. It's simply a matter of preference and overall brand vibe.
Why Keep the Secrets?
Aside from the aforementioned mystery that draws appeal, it can be additionally beneficial for brands to keep their best findings hidden from public eye. After all, if you tell the world your secrets, they can copy them. Even with trademarks and copyrights in place, others can find a way to use your methods for themselves, or even as a competing business venture. It's a possibility that folks will attempt this whether you make information public or not; many choose not to make it easier than need be.
Finally, over-sharing could lead to unwanted attention from the masses. With access to records, product ingredients, etc., folks could insert themselves in your daily operations.
All-in-all, a brand's level of secrecy sits at a personal level. Many factors go into whether a company should or shouldn't hand out their best information. Whether they choose to do so or not, however, remains in the hands of the company itself. Take these practices into consideration when choosing your own franchising brand, and pair that against your personal preference. Doing so will help you find a fit that better fits your goals.