Franchise Terminology

 Welcome! Listed below are the typical questions that people have asked us. If you don’t see a question listed below that you have, please feel free to contact us directly.

To be able to conduct an intelligent evaluation of any franchise you need to know the lingo. Every industry has its terminology, and franchising is certainly no different.

So we’re going to start you out easy. Here are the 8 most important terms you will need to know before you buy. Then read on!


The person, partnership or company who pays the Franchisor for the right to own and operate a business using the Franchisor’s marks and system.
The person, partnership or company that controls the overall rights to the franchise.
Franchise Agreement:
A non-negotiable contract, per FTC regulations, between a Franchisor and a Franchisee in which the Franchisor grants the Franchisee certain legal rights to use the Franchisor’s marks and system in connection with a business to be independently owned and operated by the Franchisee.
Capital Required:
The amount of money a Franchisee will need to ramp up their franchise business during the start-up phase, (average 3 to 15 months), to the point of producing a profit.
Exclusive Territory:
This is the region or area a Franchisee will have exclusive rights to operate within. It is generally defined and mapped in terms of targeted households or population.
The total cash available to a franchise owner for business operation or living expenses.
Net Worth:
Your assets (i.e., the cash value of all you own) minus your liabilities (i.e., what you owe).


Area Development Agreement:

A term that refers to the specific agreement provided for multiple unit or territory purchases of a particular franchise. Generally, an ADA will allow a prospective Franchisee to purchase several units but not have to open all of the units or territories at once. With a cash deposit, the Franchisee can hold on the units, and then open them at a designated time in the Area Development Agreement usually 12-15 months after the opening of the prior unit.



The sale of a franchise by one Franchisee (assignor) to another (assignee) is called an assignment. In most UFOC’s, the Franchisor designates an assignment fee that must be paid by the original
franchisee which is then used by the Franchisor to train and induct the new Franchisee.


An acronym for Business to Business. Used to describe a type of franchise whereby a Franchisee offers products or services of use to other businesses, not to consumers.


An Acronym for Business to Consumer. Service to consumer franchises and are similar to service to business franchises. The services are delivered to the client’s home or you are providing services to individuals. This business similarly requires pro-active marketing.

Business Opportunity:
A term used to describe a non-regulated business offering. Buyers should be beware that these offerings are not protected by UFOC compliance laws.


Capital Required:
The amount of money a Franchisee will need to ramp up their franchise business during the start-up phase (average 3 to 15 months) to the point of producing a profit.

Company-Owned Units:.

Units (or territories) of a franchise that are owned by the Franchisor. Such units allow the Franchisor the ability to test new ideas and products without detriment to the overall operation of a particular franchise

Usually these units are required to contribute to an advertising fee or any such group expenses.

A term that is often applied to franchises that appeal only to consumers rather than businesses. Same as B2C, or Business to Consumer.


An acronym for Federal Disclosure Document — an extensive legal document that provides you with “all you need to know about a particular franchise business, the franchisor and the franchise agreement. Regulated by the FTC, the FDD contents must be disclosed to potential buyers before purchase.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
The Federal agency in Washington, D.C. that regulates franchises.

The legal rights (the surrounding marks, system, support, training, product or service) a Franchisee obtains from a Franchisor under a franchise agreement to operate within a designated contract period as their business.

Franchisee Advisory Council:
The Franchise Agreement may provide for the formation of a Franchise Advisory Council — with Franchisees assuming the role of assisting the Franchisor with certain group decisions.

Franchise Agreement:

A contract between a franchisor and a franchisee in which the franchisor grants the franchisee certain rights to use the franchisor’s marks and system in connection with a business to be independently owned and operated by the franchisee.

The person, partnership or company who pays the Franchisor for the right to own and operate a business using the Franchisor’s marks and system.

Franchise Fee:
Often referred to as an initial franchise fee. This is a one-time, up-front payment by the Franchisee to the Franchisor for the rights to a franchise.  This fee is due and paid once the Franchise Agreement is signed, is generally non-refundable, and precedes final payments.

Franchise Validation:
When investigating a franchise opportunity a prospective franchisee should interview current and past franchisees, obtaining unfiltered opinions about the quality of the franchise system.

The creator of a franchise system. The party to a franchise agreement who grants prospective Franchisees the right to use the Franchisor’s marks and system.


A term used to describe the value of trade already established in a particular business that is likely to continue to the benefit of the new business owner.


Multi-Unit Franchise:
A Franchisee that owns more than one unit. Multi-unit owners are often the strongest operators in a franchise system plus, a system with many multi-unit operators is one that is likely performing quite well.

Multiple Franchisors:
Franchisors offering more than one franchise concept.


The North American Securities Administrators Association, which prepares the UFOC Guidelines to facilitate compliance with state franchise registration and disclosure laws.

Net Worth:
Your assets (i.e., the cash value of all you own) minus your liabilities (i.e., what you owe). Most franchise companies have minimum net worth requirements to prohibit buyers from overextending.


A verbal or written proposal to sell a franchise to a prospective Franchisee upon understood general terms and conditions.

Offering Circular:
Used to be called the UFOC.

The time when a franchised unit first opens for business.

Operations Manual:
The handbook a Franchisor provides to its Franchisees in printed or electronic form about the in-depth operations of the franchised business.

The individual owner(s) of a franchise that is a legal entity such as a corporation, general partnership, limited partnership, or limited liability company.


Any person from whom the Franchisor obtained most of its assets.

Public Figure:
Any celebrity or well-known figure who endorses a franchise or whose name or image appears in the franchise name or symbol.


Simple Retail:
Simple retail franchisees are those, which are typically found in a strip center. Often-single point operations. Simple retail franchisees typically start with you behind the counter providing a product or service to individuals. This type of cash and carry business is easy to build and attracts consumers but is limited by single location. Usually, open seven days a week.

Sophisticated Retail:
These are a bigger business with a different approach to sales. Rather than serving one customer at a time, your customers come to you seeking your advice or counsel before making a purchase. This requires more than high sales skills and be design includes developing marketing, referral, and advertising initiatives to attract new business. This type of business will be staff dependent.




Phyllis Pieri

25372 Juniper Drive

Mission Viejo, CA 92691


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