A recent article in the Franchise Times provides an interesting perspective on franchisors’ web site practices. Mark Siebert, from iFranchise Group, writes that “[w]hen it comes to whether franchisors should separate their franchise website from a consumer-facing site, a house divided is a good, even important thing. While it may seem counterintuitive, when it comes to the web, a united house is weaker.”
Siebert recommends that franchisors build and maintain a second website directed toward prospective franchisees. The article is written from a marketing perspective, citing web analytics, SEO efforts, pay-per-click returns and sales leads, but as counsel, we think Siebert’s advice is equally important from a legal standpoint, because it may simplify a franchisor’s compliance issues. A number of states require advertising material directed to potential franchisees to be filed with appropriate regulatory authorities. Although many well-known franchisors (Subway, Jimmy John’s, and Denny’s, for example) provide links to franchise opportunities on their existing consumer-facing websites, we believe the tactic of creating a separate website for franchise prospects is sound and may facilitate compliance efforts by segregating advertising directed toward potential franchisees from advertising directed toward consumers. Please feel free to contact EDG with your questions regarding advertising compliance and your online marketing campaign.