A franchise is a legal arrangement whereby a company grants you the right or privilege to use their product, service or trade name. The company offering you these rights is called the Franchisor and you would be referred to as the franchisee. Great care must be exercised in reviewing and analyzing a franchise agreement. You should have an accountant or industry consultant (or both) review and analyze the economics of the transaction, you should have a lawyer review completely all aspects of the transaction before investing.
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