Franchising (from the French for honesty) is a method of doing business wherein a franchisor licenses trademarks and tried and proven methods of doing business to a franchisee in exchange for a recurring payment, and usually a percentage piece of gross sales or gross profits as well as the annual fees. Various tangibles and intangibles such as national or international advertising, training, and other support services are commonly made available by the franchisor, and may indeed be required by the franchisor, which generally requires audited books, and may subject the franchisee or the outlet to periodic and surprise spot checks. Failures of such tests typically involve non-renewal or cancellation of franchise rights.
A business operated under a franchise arrangement is often called a chain store, franchise outlet, or simply franchise.
According to Financial Times, if sales by US franchise businesses were translated into national product, they would qualify as the 7th largest economy in the world.
The term "franchising" is used to describe business systems which may or may not fall into the legal definition provided above. For example, a vending machine operator may receive a franchise for a particular kind of vending machine, including a trademark and a royalty, but no method of doing business. This is called product franchising or trade name franchising.
A franchise agreement will usually specify the given territory the franchisee retains exclusive control over (the area protection), as well as the extent to which the franchisee will be supported by the franchisor (e.g. training and marketing campaigns).
As practiced in retailing, franchising offers franchisees the advantage of starting up a new business quickly based on a proven trademark and formula of doing business, as opposed to having to build a new business and brand from scratch (often in the face of aggressive competition