Many years ago in a town that is close to yours, there was a grocer who opened a store in the downtown area.
This grocer was an entrepreneur. He knew that in order to attract a lot of customers he would have to offer a large selection of items and the convenience of a big parking lot adjacent to the store. His investment was substantial. He built a big store and purchased a big lot for parking.
When he opened his business he got a lot of customers. Soon other bsinesses opened around his store. There were restaurants, gift shops, clothing stores and a number of other specialty food stores that enjoyed the atmosphere the grocer had created at his location, not to mention the
customers they were able to attract from his store.
A few years later, a couple of big franchise operators opened some larger stores on the edge of town. There was lots of parking and a greater variety of goods available at these big franchise stores. So the downtown grocer lost a lot of customers who flocked to the new big franchise
stores at the edge of town.
He was trying to think of some new ideas on how to get his customers back, and he found himself chatting with the businesses that were operating around his store. The restaurant operator told him to repave the parking lot, the gift shop owner told him to reduce the prices in his store and the clothing store operator told him to add lighting to the area to brighten everything up.
All these people were quick to offer ideas. They were very angry that the evil franchise people had hurt the bustling business they had around the grocer's store. They wanted these customers back too.
The grocer expressed his appreciation for these suggestions and thanked the business people for giving him these ideas. Each one of them told him how much they cared about him and wanted him to succeed. But each idea they suggested would cost the grocer a great deal of money and with dwindling profits, the grocer was worried about the risk. He would have to borrow money to make these changes.
So to get every point of view from other business people, the grocer made one more call. He called an evil franchiser. The next day, a representative of a franchise company came to visit and toured the grocer's store. He noticed that his parking lot was pretty full. It occurred to him that these cars were not all parking there for the grocer 's store but for all the others around it too. He noticed that none of the other businesses had reduced their prices like they had urged the grocer to in order to keep customers flowing. He realized that during the evening, none of these other stores had outside lighting but were illuminated from the glow of lights from the grocery store.
He noted that of all the suggestions the other businesses had for the grocer, none of them were willing to invest any of their money to help the grocery store. So the franchise man and the grocer had a long talk about marketing, branding, property values and franchise fees.
Soon after, the grocer stunned the citizens of town by announcing that he was going to open a big super store on the edge of town. He was putting his old store up for sale.
The town was in an uproar. There were livid accusations that a fast-talking franchise guy had conned the grocer into a move that would hurt the ambience of the downtown core. Angry letters arrived saying the grocer had no right to take his downtown grocery business to the edge of town. The mayor of the town called a council meeting and they declared they would block the sale of the property and stop the development of the new store.
The grocer was saddened by this reaction. He was especially hurt to note that the majority of the angry letters and phone calls he had were from people who did not shop at his store. They shopped at the big stores on the edge of town but they demanded that the grocer keep his store where it was to retain the quaint look of the downtown area.
So the grocer made one more call. He hired an evil lawyer.
The grocer sold his property to a developer. Then, within a short period of time, he built the biggest super store in the county under a franchise name. He purchased full-page ads in the local newspaper to announce the opening. The same newspaper that had reported a story about a group of residents who were organizing a boycott of the newly built store. The organization claimed to represent thousands of people. This same organization began a boycott of the newspaper as well because they felt they were not getting enough coverage. They also declined to buy advertising.
On the first day of business, the grocer's new super franchise store was flooded with customers and has been ever since. He had the best prices, the best variety, the best brand-named products and the best trained staff than anyone else. And he knew that was why he had the most customers.
The grocer had taken marketing courses and attended seminars put on by his franchise company.
But at the end of the day, he knew that he had learned more about humanity than anything else. Now around the same time, there was a Realtor in town that everyone liked. She was a wonderful person who cared deeply about her community and the real estate industry. Everyone in town said that they would give their listing to this Realtor when it came time to sell their
house instead of going to the big evil franchise company down the street.
Some of these people even came by after their houses sold through the busy franchise company and said, “I'm sorry we didn't list with you, but we had to sell the house quickly” or “We needed the extra services that the franchise company offered us, otherwise we would have certainly listed with you.”
Then one day a franchise representative called her. They had quite a long talk. She said that she would give a lot of thought to their conversation. And she was a person that everyone knew, would keep her word.  
 
By: Heino Molls
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