4.7 Cases and Problems

Learning on the Web

  1. Consult Entrepreneur at http://www.entrepreneur.com. Search for “business legal structures” to read articles about S corporations and LLCs. If you were starting a company, which would you choose and why?
  2. Research how to form a corporation and LLC in your state using search engines to find relevant sites. Here are two to get you started: http://www.incorporate.com and http://www.usa-corporate.com. Find out what steps are necessary to set up a corporation in your state. How do the fees compare with other states? If you were incorporating a business, what state would you choose and why?
  3. The Federal Trade Commission is the government agency that monitors and regulates franchises. Visit the FTC site (http://www.ftc.gov), and explore the links to its resources on franchising, including details on the legal responsibilities of franchisors and franchisees. What kinds of problems should a prospective franchisee look out for when considering a franchise? What kinds of scams are typical in the franchise industry?
  4. Select three franchises that interest you. Research them at sites such as the Franchise Handbook Online (http://www.franchisehandbook.com), Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 (http://www.entrepreneur.com), and Be the Boss (http://www.betheboss.com). Prepare a chart comparing your selections, including history, number and location of units, financial requirements (initial franchise fee, other start-up costs, royalty and advertising fees), and any other information that would help you evaluate the franchises.
  5. Inc. magazine (http://www.inc.com) has many franchising articles in its section on Startup. It offers insights into how franchisors and franchisees can better manage their businesses. Using the site’s resources, discuss ways the owner of a franchise can motivate employees. What specific revenue items and expenses should you monitor daily in a franchise restaurant business to ensure that you are profitable?

Preparing for Tomorrow’s Workplace Skills

  1. Suppose you are considering two job offers for a computer programming position, one at a two-year-old consulting firm with 10 employees owned by a sole proprietor and one at a publicly traded software developer with sales of $500 million. In addition to comparing the specific job responsibilities, consider the following:

    • Which company offers better training? Do you prefer the on-the-job training you’ll get at the small company, or do you want formal training programs as well?
    • Which position offers the chance to work on a variety of assignments?
    • What are the opportunities for advancement? Employee benefits?
    • What happens if the owner of the young company gets sick or decides to sell the company?
    • Which company offers a better working environment for you?

    Answering these and similar questions will help you decide which job meets your particular needs. (Resources, Information)

  2. Before starting your own company, you should know the legal requirements in your area. Call the appropriate city or county departments, such as licensing, health, and zoning, to find out what licenses and permits you need and any other requirements you must meet. Do the requirements vary depending on the type of company? Are there restrictions on starting a home-based business? Contact your secretary of state or other agency that handles corporations to get information on how to incorporate. (Information)
  3. Bridget Jones wants to open her own business selling her handmade chocolates over the internet. Although she has some money saved and could start the business on her own, she is concerned about her lack of bookkeeping and management experience. A friend mentions he knows an experienced businessperson seeking involvement with a start-up company. As Bridget’s business consultant, prepare recommendations for Bridget regarding an appropriate form of business organization, outlining the issues she should consider and the risks involved, supported by reasons for your suggestions. (Interpersonal, Information)
  4. You and a partner co-own Swim-Clean, a successful pool supply and cleaning service. Because sales have tapered off, you want to expand your operations to another town 10 miles away. Given the high costs of expanding, you decide to sell Swim-Clean franchises. The idea takes off, and soon you have 25 units throughout the region. Your success results in an invitation to speak at a local Rotary Club luncheon. Prepare a brief presentation describing how you evaluated the benefits and risks of becoming a franchisor, the problems you encountered, and how you established good working relationships with your franchisees. (Information)
  5. Do you have what it takes to be a successful franchisee? Start by making a list of your interests and skills, and do a self-assessment using some of the suggestions in this chapter. Next you need to narrow the field of thousands of different franchise systems. At Franchise Handbook Online (http://www.franchisehandbook.com), you’ll find articles with checklists to help you thoroughly research a franchise and its industry, as well as a directory of franchise opportunities. Armed with this information, develop a questionnaire to evaluate a prospective franchise. (Resources, Interpersonal, Information)
  6. Find news of a recent merger using an online search or a business periodical such as Bloomberg Businessweek, Fortune, or The Wall Street Journal. Research the merger using a variety of sources including the company’s website and news articles. Discover the motives behind the merger, the problems facing the new entity, and the company’s progress toward achieving its objectives. (Information)
  7. Team Activity After pulling one too many all-nighters, you realize your college needs an on-campus coffee/food delivery service and decide this might be a good business opportunity for you and some friends. Split the class into small groups. Start by outlining the management, technical, and financial resources that are needed to start this company. Then evaluate what resources your group brings to the table and what you will need from partners. Develop a list of questions for potential partners. After each group presents its findings to the class, it should pair up with another group that seems to offer additional resources. Interview the other group’s members using your questions to decide if the teams could work together and if you would proceed with this venture. (Resources, Interpersonal)

Ethics Angle

After seeing a Quiznos franchise recruitment infomercial to recruit franchisees, you are tempted to apply to open your own Quiznos sub shop. However, your research on the company turns up some disturbing information. Many current franchisees are unhappy with the company’s management and practices, among them excessive food costs, lack of promised support, and selling new franchise locations that are too close to existing stores. A group of New Jersey franchisees sued Quiznos for selling them franchises but not providing locations 18 months after taking their franchise fees. Some franchise owners question Quiznos’s purchasing tactics, choosing food and beverage suppliers based on the referral fees it receives instead of the lowest-cost provider. Other franchisees have suffered major financial losses.

Quiznos, which owned or operated more than 5,000 sub shops at one time and now has less than 1,500 locations worldwide with less than 900 in the United States, disputes the various claims. The president of the company points out that in a franchise operation, there will always be unhappy franchisees and those who can’t make a success of their units. Besides, Quiznos’s franchise offering materials clearly state that the company may open stores in any locations it selects.

Using a web search tool, locate articles about this topic, and then write responses to the following questions. Be sure to support your arguments and cite your sources.

Ethical Dilemma: What are Quiznos’s obligations to its franchisees? Is it ethical for the company to open new franchises very close to existing units and to choose vendors based on fees to the parent company rather than the cost to franchisees?

Sources: The Franchise King, “What Happened to Quiznos?” https://www.thefranchiseking.com, accessed September 14, 2017; Karsten Strauss, “Is Quiznos Toast?” Forbes, https://www.forbes.com, June 17, 2015; Venessa Wong, “Can Quiznos Be Saved?” BuzzFeed News, https://www.buzzfeed.com, December 8, 2015; Kristi Arellano, “Quiznos’ Success Not without Problems,” Denver Post, June 19, 2005, p. K1; Dina Berta, “Quiznos Denies Franchisees’ Charges of Cost Gouging, Encroachment Problems,” Nation’s Restaurant News, June 20, 2005, P. 1+; “Quiznos Denies Fraud Suit Charges by 17 Franchisees,” Nation’s Restaurant News, May 16, 2005, p. 102.

Creative Thinking Case

I’m an Owner of a Professional Sports Team!

Many of the richest individuals have added professional sports teams to their ownership portfolios. Paul Allen owns the Seattle Seahawks after founding Microsoft, and another Microsoft alumnus, Steve Balmer, now owns the Los Angeles Clippers. They, like most other owners of sports teams, including Shahid Khan (Jacksonville Jaguars), Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys), the Rickets family (Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball), and Geoff Molson (Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League), all have corporate structures that operate as for-profit organizations. There is one exception to the corporate structure, however.

The Green Bay Packers are unique among North American sports teams in that they are a community-owned not-for-profit. They do have shareholders, but the shareholders have limited rights and most shares are bought so that fans can claim ownership and use the stock certificate as a piece of pride of ownership in a unique community treasure. The shares do not pay dividends, and any proceeds from any possible sale or liquidation of the team go to a charity, not the shareholders. This system, plus transfer restrictions and a cap on the number of shares that any single individual can own, ensures that the team remains in public hands and will never leave the city of Green Bay.

Every shareholder in the Green Bay Packers received a ballot for electing the team’s board of directors, who then select an executive committee of seven individuals who will meet with chief executive officer Mark Murphy, a former NFL player who also served as the athletic director at Northwestern University prior to joining the Packers. Murphy is charged with hiring other leadership positions, such as the general manager, who then hires the head coach, who is charged with hiring the assistant coaches.

So, what are the negatives to what seems like a perfect organizational structure? Many owners in other cities are able to price their tickets to the market and also able to create revenue streams from corporate advertising in the stadium as well as stadium-naming rights. The Packers have some of the lowest-priced tickets in the league despite 80,000 requests on their season ticket waiting list. Also, teams in other cities can negotiate with city, county, and other government agencies for subsidies and tax breaks for building new stadiums and use the threat of a move to another city as a bargaining chip. For instance, the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers recently moved to Los Angeles while the Oakland Raiders will soon call Las Vegas home.

Another potential drawback is that the organizational structure of the Packers restricts the ability to make organizational changes such as changing the general manager or head coach quickly if things are going badly. Luckily for the Packers, this has not been much of a problem lately having had success with star quarterbacks such as Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers!

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Is the not-for-profit form of business organization appropriate for the Green Bay Packers? Why or why not?
  2. Why has this form of ownership not been replicated in other cities?
  3. What are the limitations and constraints that this form of business has on the operations of the Green Bay Packers?

Sources: “Ted Thompson Has No Obligation to Communicate,” Total Packers, https://www.totalpackers.com, August 8, 2017; Green Bay Packers website, “Packers Hall of Fame to Host Shareholders: A Story of Resilience, Community and Pride,” http://www.packers.com, June 23, 2017; Mike Florio, “Packers Ownership Structure Works Well, Until It Doesn’t,” NBC Sports, http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com, November 26, 2016; “Green Bay Packers Shareholder on What It’s Like to Own an NFL Team,” Sporting News, http://www.sportingnews.com, September 30, 2014; Ken Reed, “Green Bay Packers’ Ownership Structure Remains Ideal,” League of Fans, http://www.leagueoffans, April 6, 2012; Karl Taro Greenfeld, “The Green Bay Packers Have the Best Owners in Sports,” Bloomberg Businessweek, https://www.bloomberg.com, October 20, 2011.

Hot Links Address Book

  1. Which Fortune 500 company had the biggest revenue increase? The highest profits? The highest return to investors? What is the largest entertainment company? Get all the details on U.S. companies at http://www.fortune.com/fortune500.
  2. Confused about the differences between regular corporations, S corporations, and LLCs? Compare these three business structures at http://www.4inc.com.
  3. Did you know U.S. cooperatives serve some 120 million members, or 4 in 10 Americans? For more co-op statistics, check the National Cooperative Business Association website at http://www.ncba.coop/.
  4. Combine your sweet tooth with your good business sense by owning a candy franchise. Indulge yourself by finding out the requirements for owning a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory franchise at http://www.rmcf.com.
  5. Want to know what’s hot and what’s not in franchising? Improve your chances for success at http://www.entrepreneur.com/franchises.

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Foundations of Business by Manika Avasthi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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