What is an Area Developer? What is a Subfranchise? What is an Area Representative? How are they the same? How are they different? The 3 concepts are somewhat fungible and there is much confusion about the overlap and the differences. Recognizing this, the Franchise and Business Opportunity Project of the North American Security Administrators Association, Inc. [NASAA] post consultation with the Federal Trade Commission [FTC] has published Multi-Unit Commentary [“Commentary”] for public comment.
In the words of the Commentary:
These structures [Area Developer, Subfranchise, and Area Representative] are not mutually exclusive; that is, a franchisor may use just 1 structure or may use a combination of 2 or 3 structures. There are no universally accepted terms for these structures within the franchise industry. The terms used to describe the structures in different franchise systems, and in different laws and regulations, vary widely.
So let’s start with the Area Developer. Here’s the definition provided in the Commentary: An Area Developer is an agreement where the franchisor grants a right to open multiple franchise units in a designated time period in a designated area. An area development agreement itself does not itself grant a right to operate a franchise unit. Area Developer has many different aliases. Area Developers are sometimes called master franchisee, multi-unit developers, and regional developer. The nomenclature changes and are used interchangeably.
This is the graphic depiction provided in the Commentary:
In addition to defining Area Developer, the Commentary some great FAQs with insights and watch-outs for people looking to buy a franchise and franchisors. Take a listen:
Now let’s keep things in prospective. The Commentary has not been adopted. It is only being published for public comment. The Commentary may change, be modified, or redrafted after public comment. The Commentary is not intended to override Federal Franchise Disclosure Laws.
Look for our Post on Subfranchise.