What Are Alternative Business Models to Franchising?

In addition to franchising, there are two other popular methods by which businesses expand their market and distribution channels:


In a distributorship, the distributor usually:

• Has a contractual relationship with the supplier

• Buys from the supplier in bulk and sells in smaller quantities

• Is familiar with local markets and customers

• May do business with many companies, more than just the supplier/producer

• May not receive contractual support and training from the supplier/producer like a franchisee.

Some distribution arrangements are similar to franchises, and vice versa. A franchisee with a great deal of leeway in how to run the business may look like an independent distributor. A distributor may be subject to many controls by the supplier/producer and begin to resemble a franchise.

Some popular distributorships include:

• Amway

• Color Me Beautiful Cosmetics

• Mountain Life Spring Water

• Knorr Soup Vendor

• Campbell's Soup Vending Machines


Licensing, on the other hand, allows a licensee to pay for the rights to use a particular trademark. Unlike franchises, in which the franchisor exerts significant control over the franchisee’s operations, licensors are mainly interested in collecting royalties and supervising the use of the license rather than influencing the operations of the business. Check out www.licensing.org.

Some popular licensors include: 

• Netscape Communications

• Apple Computer

• Canon Inc. 

• Woolmark