Can Colleges Teach People How to Franchise?

Long neglected by business schools, franchising is finally gaining a foothold in the world of higher ed. But will students follow?
Source: Alvaro Dominguez

Ray Titus wishes he had known.

It’s not like he’s some novice. He’s the CEO of West Palm Beach-based United Franchise Group, or UFG, which owns Signarama, Fully Promoted, Transworld Business Advisors and Jon Smith Subs. Franchising is in his blood. His father founded Minuteman Press International, and taught him well. “I got my best lessons at the dinner table with my dad,” Titus says. Those lessons set him up for two straight decades of growth.

Related: The 3 Biggest Lessons in Franchising, According to the Industry's Top Podcasters

Still, that sort of education gets you only so far. When the recession hit in 2008, Titus was caught off guard. “We saw a slowdown, but we didn’t see it hitting us as hard as it did,” he says. If he’d had a more formal business education to ground him in the principles of economics, he thought, he might have taken less of a hit. But that was never available to him. No business schools offered serious coursework in franchising. Franchisors and franchisees just learned as they went -- “the school of hard knocks,” as he says. 

Business schools’ indifference toward franchising has long been a source of frustration within the industry. “There’s always been an attitude of ” says John Hayes, a veteran authority on franchising. But, of course, it is a real business. Franchisors and franchisees employ an

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