The Myth of the “Few Disgruntled Franchisees”

One way franchiSORS maintain leverage is through discrediting franchiSEE issues by labeling franchiSEES who assertively defend their rights as “disgruntled” and by pretending that the “disgruntled” franchiSEES are rare and alone.

My background is in psychology, not business. In psychology, we know that it’s positive to assertively stand up for your own rights. Standing up for yourself does not mean something bad about you like the word “disgruntled” implies. In actuality, it demonstrates strength and psychological health.

When I observe franchiSORS claiming that a “few disgruntled franchisees” are causing all the problems and that the “few disgruntled” franchiSEES are rare and alone, my first thought is, “Uh-oh… red flag… the franchisors are hiding something,” and “uh-oh… red flag… this demonstrates that there is probably some dangerous exploitation occurring here.”

A person with a background in psychology observes behavior patterns and gleans information that others might miss.

FranchiSORS aren’t the only people who label and minimize people who are making complaints. Language that minimizes and isolates people who aren’t happy with the status quo is pretty common. It’s what unethical (and often abusive) people who have a lot of power do when they don’t want to lose that power.

If franchiSORS were ethical, rather than using language that minimizes and isolates the victims of their fraud, they’d simply ask people who have been harmed what the problems are and then work to solve them. If they were ethical, they’d support bills like the Fair Franchise Act of 2017 and then none of these problems would be occurring.

But since franchiSORS are committing fraud en masse, rather than behaving ethically, we hear language that labels and minimizes franchiSEES as part of their strategy to maintain power and the capacity to commit fraud.

FranchiSORS claim there are “a few disgruntled franchiSEES” because that language tends to be effective. They might even have even gotten you to say similar things. Have you ever repeated that notion… spread it to others… possibly to protect yourself? If so, don’t worry… that’s part of the psychological trick. Using language that minimizes and isolates (such as “a few disgruntled franchiSEES”) they can victimize you and then recruit you to also use language that minimizes and isolates other victims… all while minimizing and isolating yourself!

That’s psychology for you. They get you using the same language so you’ll be thinking, “I don’t want to be one of those ‘disgruntled’ franchisees like so-and-so. I don’t want to be one of the ‘few.'”

This strategy works for franchiSORS because it will help keep you quiet and prevent you from reaching out to Mr. or Ms. so-and-so to openly start a conversation that will give you accurate information about why they are dissatisfied.

This strategy works for franchiSORS because it gets you to feel embarrassed about ever sharing some of your own complaints. This strategy works for franchiSORS because it gives you the false impression that Mr. or Ms. so-and-so are “weak” and are one of the “few” because they are “disgruntled.” In actuality, it is much more likely that Mr. or Ms. so-and-so are speaking because they have the courage to speak. Mr. or Ms. so-and-so may be much more psychologically healthy than “disgruntled” but the franchiSORS want you to believe the and gossip about the opposite because the franchiSORS want your silence.

This psychological trick works because most people are afraid of being labeled as “disgruntled” and most people want to be part of strong, powerful groups. Most people care about what others say about them and think about them. They don’t want to be gossiped about and they don’t want to be one of the few.

The franchisors know what they’re doing. Their psychological strategy works because they know you want people to say good things about you, too. They know you want respect, connections and supportive colleagues, too. They know you don’t want to be isolated.

When a powerful, influential franchiSOR points a finger at a franchiSEE who is trying to stand up for themselves and says, “You’re just disgruntled,” that powerful franchiSOR is basically saying, “I’m going to label any franchiSEE who tries to stand up for themselves as “disgruntled.” This sends the franchiSORS’ strategic message message to all franchiSEES. In essence, the franchiSOR is saying, “If you try to stand up for your rights, I’m going to talk behind your back. I’m going to say bad things about you to all your colleagues, your business contacts, and anyone else who will listen. I’m going to tell them that you only have a problem because you’re ‘disgruntled.’ SO WATCH OUT!”

This is a pretty slick (and relatively common) psychological trick. In general, it tends to be effective. Lots and lots of people are vulnerable to self-doubt and silence. This strategy deters complaints by incentivizing silence in people who have genuinely been wronged. A majority of people will choose not to defend their own strong positions in order to prevent those more powerful than themselves from negatively labeling them.

Isolation fits hand-in-hand with negative labeling and threats of gossip. When franchisors claim there are just a “few” unhappy franchisees, the franchiSORS falsely make it appear as if the franchisEES who are dissatisfied are alone and isolated. People tend to be even more afraid of being alone than they are of being labeled disparagingly. Not only do they not want to be called “disgruntled”… but they don’t want to be alone AND disgruntled.

If you’re a franchiSEE and you’re afraid of articulating the way you’ve been exploited by the franchise industry, you’re likely falling prey to these common psychological techniques.

The franchiSORS may want you to believe you’re alone in your dissatisfaction, but the reality is, they’ve set up a system that put you in a very powerless situation and are now trying to keep you silent in your place of less pwoer. You trustingly signed a dangerous contract thinking you could trust them to keep their promises and help you build a business only to discover that they were far less than honest before you signed. And you signed only to discover that all that all their dishonesty is moot because you initialed dangerous clauses that will allow them to win in court. You signed a person guarantee. Those franchiSORS can take everything unless you tow the line.

In other words, you have a right to be far more than dissatisfied or “disgruntled.” And in other words, you are far from one of a “few.” If they franchisors did that to you, rest assured that they’ve done that to a lot of other people, too.

In fact, they do it so often that it’s systematic. It’s a systematic component of their fraud.

And part of the reason why the fraud is so effective is that they are able to keep franchiSEES silent by pretending that “a few disgruntled” franchiSEES are behind a few isolated complaints.

Nope. That’s not true. That’s bogus. That’s intended to keep you silent and make you feel afraid and alone.

If franchiSEES start speaking, franchiSORS will loseand they know it.

Instead of being silent, trust yourself. The franchiSORS planned ahead and defrauded you. They took advantage of you. Talk to your franchiSEE owners’ association about this psychological technique. Have a lot of conversations with a lot of people. Start speaking and sharing rather than hiding alone in silence.

Get you franchise owners’ association to join the Coalition of Franchisee Associations. Start speaking.

Don’t fall for the franchiSORS’ dumb psychological trick.

The franchiSORS want you to be alone and quiet because they know that if you remain silent and isolated, they’ll be able to keep making money off of new victims.

They like the myth of the “few disgruntled franchisees” because it makes them a lot of money. You’d better believe that they’re going to keep on perpetuating it. The way to end that is to start talking and having real conversations with a lot of other people. That’ll prove to all of you that none of you are alone, you’re not a “few” and you’re a lot more than “disgruntled.”

Don’t fall for their psychological trick and gossip about each other or minimize how much this fraud has harmed all of you.

It’s time to stand up for yourself.

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