Editor, NRN: It is rare for me to be moved to write regarding an article, but your cover story, “Unclear exit strategies cloud chains’ outlooks,” Jan. 8, hits at what I believe is the biggest obstacle facing franchising. We are at a generational crossroads as most long-term operators look to transition themselves into retirement and convert their businesses to new full-time leadership. I have seen the situation develop, over the last few years, as both a franchisee and franchisor. The issue is a common topic at franchise meetings, yet most franchisors are not prepared to address the subject. They need to be. Without them leading the way, teaching financial and personnel succession planning skills, chains will soon—if not already—face a critical decline in the long-term operator’s personal commitment, willingness to expand or invest in facility capital expenditures, or maintain the special entrepreneurial spirit that made their business successful in the first place.
Jeff Rogerschief executive Heartland Food Corp. Downers Grove, Ill.