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Watch CNBC's 'Behind the Counter'

One of the country’s most important business news channels has produced an essential program on franchising.

CNBC’s “Behind The Counter: The Untold Story Of Franchising” takes a broad, multi-faceted look at franchising. Emmy-winning host Darren Rovell explores the in’s and out’s of five different franchises: Dunkin’ Donuts, Camp Bow Wow, Five Guys and Proctor & Gamble. There’s also an exclusive web feature about hotel franchises and you can watch it all on their special franchising website. (We examined the Dunkin Donuts segment late last year)

The show provides a “warts and all” look at franchising, highlighting both some successes and failures from around the industry. This is one of the most in-depth examinations of franchising in the mainstream media and is a great watch for anyone looking for objective analysis on the industry. Rovell is an engaging host and one of more fascinating aspects of the show is the difference in the perception of franchise success and failure between a journalist like Rovell and a franchisor. I liked blogger Joe Mathews’ (of the Franchise Performance Group blog) take on the episode.

It was clear the reporter saw the totality of franchisees’ successes and failures as different results which occur within one system. The CEO saw franchisees’ successes as “the system working” and franchisees’ failure as “a failure to work the system.” This exchange made me take a pause and reflect on the question, “What is the system, really?” Does The System merely describe the franchisor’s operating system or does it include everything the franchisor and franchisees do and don’t do which impacts the franchisees’ results? Does The System include the wide range of franchisees’ results (including failure) or does it merely include franchisees’ successes?

Mathews quotes a book by Peter Senge called The Fifth Discipline which takes a macro view of systems and says to again quote Mathews, that believes The System includes everything that does and doesn’t occur, distinguished and undistinguished, accidental and intentional, which work together to eventually determine whether or not the franchisees’ cash register rings. I think that’s an interpretation that many franchisees – and franchisors – would admit is fair.

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