Franchise Disclosure Document Definition
A Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) is a type of legal document which must be presented to individuals in the United States who are prospective buyers of franchises in the pre-sale disclosure process. It is a document that contains information that is essential to potential franchisees who are about to make a significant investment. At least, ten days prior to the signing of the agreement, this document must be presented. The Franchise Disclosure Document follows the same format irrespective of the industry, the size of the industry or any other factor. It is extremely important that prospective franchisees take their time to go through the document in order to be adequately informed before making a decision to buy.
A Little More on What is a Franchise disclosure document
The Franchise Disclosure Document gives standard information needed by its users the franchisee and the franchisor so that they can be informed about the duties meant to be performed by each of them respectively. The document enables an informed decision concerning investment into a business to be made by the potential franchisee. The document which the potential franchisee must review before signing an agreement is divided up into twenty-three (23) sections. It is important to note that while this document is required by law, its contents have not been reviewed by a legal body to ensure its accuracy. This is why getting a franchise lawyer may work in favor of the potential franchisee in the long run.
History of the FDD
Prior to the revisions made to the Franchise Disclosure Document by the Federal Trade Commission, the consumer protection agency of the country in July 2007, it was originally known as the Uniform Franchise Offering Circular (UFOC) or Uniform Franchise Disclosure Document. Franchisors were also given an ultimatum of July 1, 2008, to comply with the changes made to the document. The Federal Trade Commission Rule of 1979 which governs the disclosure of essential information in the sale of franchises to the general public underlies the state’s Franchise Disclosure Document and kicks against any private right of action for the violation of the mandated disclosure provisions of the Franchise Disclosure Documents.
Franchise Disclosure Document: Rights of the Franchisee
According to the Franchise rule which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the franchisors Franchise Disclosure Document must be received by the prospective franchisee at least 14 days before the prospective franchisee is asked to sign any contract or pay any amount of money to the franchisor or an affiliate of the franchisor. Once the prospective franchisee’s application has been received by the franchisor and agreed to consider it, the prospective franchisee has the right to request and get a copy of the sample Franchise Disclosure Document. The franchisor may then provide a copy of this document on paper, via email, through a webpage, or on a disc.
Under the franchise rule, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines a franchise as any continuing commercial relationship or arrangement, in which the terms of the contract specify, or the franchise seller represents, orally or in writing that; the right to operate a business that is associated with the franchisor’s trademark will be obtained by the franchisee, a significant degree of control can be exerted by the franchisor over the franchisees operation method or the provision of significant assistance by the franchisor to the franchisees operation method and the commitment of the franchisee to make a required payment to his franchisor or its affiliate as a necessary condition of obtaining or commencing operation of the franchise.
Sections of the FDD
Essential information needed by potential franchisees who are about to make a significant investment in a franchisor’s business which are contained in the Franchise Disclosure Document includes the following:
- The franchisor and any parents, predecessors, and affiliates.
- Business experience.
- Franchisee’s obligations.
- Representations of financial performance.
- Disclosure of initial fee and any other hidden fee.
- Disclosure of the final fee.
- Franchisees awareness of the required lowest and highest range of his initial investment.
- Restrictions on sources of products and services.
- Franchisors’ assistance to franchisee.
- Indication of any geographical restrictions a franchisor is putting on the franchisee.
- Patents, copyrights, and proprietary information.
- Franchisees obligation to participate in the actual operation of the franchise business
- Franchisees products sales restrictions
- Renewal, termination, transfer, and dispute resolution
- Public figures
- Franchisee information and outlets.
- Provision of three years of financial statements to the franchisee by the franchisor.
- Outline of the franchise agreement by the franchisor (contract).
- Receipts, which is the final section.
The FDD: Examples of Popular Franchises
Popular, well-known fast-food companies amongst others which are examples of franchise businesses include:
- McDonald’s, one of the leading franchises in America which have well over 30,000 restaurants worldwide with 14,000 of them in the United States alone.
- Dunkin’ Donuts, an American premium doughnut store.
- 7-Eleven, one of the United States’ most profitable convenience store franchises which has over 8,000 stores around the country and about five times that number worldwide.
- Subway, an American restaurant that primarily sells submarine sandwiches and salads, and had 41,512 restaurants in more than 100 countries as of October 2019 having more than half of its restaurants in the United States.
- Baskin-Robbins, an ice cream shop is located in more than 7,900 places worldwide.