The Basics of Franchise Accounting

November 20, 2023
Franchise Accounting


As a franchise owner, you have the opportunity to run your own business without the daunting task of starting a brand-new company. While franchises operate similarly to other businesses, there are a few additional steps involved in franchise accounting. In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of franchise accounting, providing you with a solid foundation to manage your financial obligations effectively.

Understanding Franchises

When you become a franchise owner, you own an individual location of a larger company’s brand. For instance, imagine someone in your town who owns and operates a local fast-food restaurant. Although they manage their specific location, the entire brand is owned by a superior entity. Franchising offers the advantage of tapping into an already established customer base, providing you with a market ready for your products or services. To initiate a franchise, both parties must sign a franchise contract to cement their commitment to the business venture.

Role of Franchisors

Franchisors hold ownership of all franchise locations and oversee the brand’s big-picture operations. They make crucial decisions regarding the products and services offered by the franchise. Additionally, franchisors develop an operating system and provide ongoing support to ensure the success of each franchise location. To establish individual franchise locations, franchisors sell the rights to interested individuals who will take on the responsibility of running them.

Role of Franchisees

In franchise accounting, franchisees are the owners of individual franchise locations. They operate their franchises according to the guidelines set by the franchisor. The advantage of buying a franchise lies in the ability to leverage an already recognizable brand, facilitating faster business growth. However, it’s important to note that franchisees do not have the authority to make major business decisions. Instead, they must adhere to the established framework provided by the franchisor.

Fees and Franchise Accounting

To own a franchise, franchisees must pay various fees to the franchisor. These fees grant them the rights to utilize the brand, products, and services of the franchise. Importantly, all fees must be transparent and disclosed by the franchisor to the franchisee.

  • Initial Fees

When purchasing a franchise, franchisees are required to pay an initial fee. Think of this fee as an entry charge to the franchise. The initial fee covers expenses like training, equipment, renovations, and other startup costs crucial for opening the franchise. Franchisees typically pay this fee upfront as a lump sum. Before making the payment, it is essential for the franchisee to project their business capital requirements accurately.

  • Amortizing Initial Fees

Franchisees have the opportunity to deduct the initial fee from their business tax returns. To accomplish this, franchisees must amortize the fee. Amortization is a process similar to depreciation, specifically designed for intangible assets such as a trademark. The fee’s cost is spread evenly over several years throughout the useful life of the intangible asset. Franchisees typically amortize the initial fee over a span of 15 years. The fee amount should be divided equally each year. In the event that the franchise agreement’s duration is less than 15 years, the amortization period will align with the length of the contract.

  • Royalty Fees

Once a franchise is up and running, franchisees are obligated to pay royalty fees on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. Generally, the fee is calculated as a percentage of the franchise’s gross sales. However, in some cases, it may be based on net sales or even a predetermined flat dollar amount. These royalty fees serve as a source of income for the franchisor, covering fixed costs associated with the franchise. It’s important to note that franchisees must pay the royalty fee regardless of their generated revenue, unless otherwise specified in the franchise agreement.

  • Marketing Fees

Certain franchisors charge franchisees a marketing fee. This fee contributes to a marketing fund used to promote the entire franchise’s brand through advertising materials. Typically, the marketing fee is a small percentage of the franchise’s gross sales. The purpose of the marketing fund is to enhance brand visibility and attract more customers to the franchise.

Importance of Franchise Accounting

Both franchisors and franchisees must have a solid understanding of franchise accounting basics. Accurate and diligent record-keeping is essential to avoid errors in transaction records, ensuring that franchisees and franchisors receive proper and timely payments. Utilizing online accounting software for small businesses can significantly aid franchise owners and franchisors in managing their finances effectively. With an internet connection, both parties have instant access to financial records, facilitating efficient communication. Moreover, opting for a single software provider for accounting and payroll services may even lead to volume discounts. If desired, franchise owners can also outsource their bookkeeping to accountants, reducing the financial burden on overhead costs while ensuring compliance with payroll requirements.

Read More:

Choosing the Right Accounting Outsourcing Partner: Key Considerations

Comprehensive Guide of Types of 1099 Tax Forms

Do I Need Outsourced Bookkeeping Services If I Have Accounting Software?

Leave a comment