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August 13, 2009Coldstone Creamery/Tim Horton's employee Ayana Figueiredo holds up an All Lovin' No Oven ice cream at the co-branded Tim Hortons location on Bay street near Bloor in Toronto, August 13, 2009. (J.P. Moczulski/The Globe and Mail) (J.P. MOCZULSKI/J.P. MOCZULSKI FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
August 13, 2009Coldstone Creamery/Tim Horton's employee Ayana Figueiredo holds up an All Lovin' No Oven ice cream at the co-branded Tim Hortons location on Bay street near Bloor in Toronto, August 13, 2009. (J.P. Moczulski/The Globe and Mail) (J.P. MOCZULSKI/J.P. MOCZULSKI FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Small Business Briefing

Court cases put spotlight on franchising rifts Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz

Two cases before U.S. courts are putting the spotlight on "the growing rift between franchisees and franchisors," according to this report in The Wall Street Journal.

In the first case, according to the Journal report, an association of about 185 franchise owners has filed a lawsuit against ice-cream chain Cold Stone Creamery Inc., a subsidiary of Kahala Corp., over allegations of withholding information about funds they believe should be set aside for their benefit for marketing. They are also seeking "insight" about what the company does with revenue and interest from unused gift card sales, the report says. Management hasn't yet filed a response.

The second case involves a group of franchisees who have filed a lawsuit against Edible Arrangements International Inc. over the fruit-basket chain operator's mandate for U.S. locations to be open on Sundays and extra hours during the rest of the week, according to the Journal report. They are also seeking to stop management from collecting 2% of gross sales of orders placed over the Internet, according to the story. Edible's president denied allegations, saying any changes are intended to help, not hurt, franchisees.

Beyond these cases, the Journal story says that at least a dozen new franchisee associations have been formed because of conflicts in the past year. The two disputes, which the Journal says are being "closely watched," come after three years of declines in the number of U.S. franchises, the story notes.

Show customers Valentine's Day love

Cupid will strike in just a few days, and, for small businesses ranging from florists to restaurants to sellers of chocolate, Valentine's Day can be a heart warmer for business. In the United States, the National Retail Federation projects consumers will spend $17.6-billion on the day, according to this posting. It found in a January survey that consumers would spend an average $126.03 on the day, up 8.5 per cent from last year and a record in the survey's 10-year history, according to the posting.

All small businesses can show the love and reap the rewards, advises this posting. It suggests putting some flower arrangements and boxes of chocolates near your cash register to warm the cockles of customers' hearts, and come up with a Valentine's Day promotion; even if it is a bit of a stretch for the type of business you're in, "customers appreciate a good sense of humour."

How to rock as a newbie entrepreneur

For those taking the entrepreneurial plunge, this posting offers five suggestions from a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council on how to put your best foot forward. The advice includes joining an entrepreneurship group to connect with like-minded people; finding a mentor; and making time for yourself. And in this Forbes piece, the founder of men's e-commerce site Jackthreads.com and another YEC member, offers five must-have factors that he says catalpulted his company: passion, an audience; cash; team selection; and role models.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

An evening with Conference Board of Canada chief economist

Young Canadians in Finance, in conjunction with the Ottawa Economics Association, is hosting a networking event on Feb. 15 featuring a keynote speech by Glen Hodgson, vice-president and chief economist for the Conference Board of Canada. The event takes place in Ottawa. For more information, click here.

Discovery conference upcoming

The Ontario Centres of Excellence will host Discovery, an innovation-to-commercialization conference, on May 14 and May 15 in Toronto. It brings together key players from industry, academia, government and the investment community with entrepreneurs and students to pursue collaboration opportunities. Registration is now open. For more information, click here.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Canadian company cleans up in U.S. market

From Disney World’s Fantasyland expansion to federal prisons, Construction Cleaners Group has found lucrative niches south of the border, where it does 95 per cent of business

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Couples who leap into business together

Running a company is, in the best sense, a labour of love. But what happens when couples go into business together? Can it be too much of a good thing? We asked that of three couples who took the entrepreneurial leap of faith, who talked about what they learned from the experience in a piece published last Valentine's Day.



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