This article originally appeared in 1851 written by Taylor Karg on July 2, 2020. It is reprinted here with permission from 1851.
Top Franchise Lawyers: Evan Goldman of A.Y. Strauss LLC
1851 Franchise’s annual compilation of great franchise attorneys
By Taylor Karg
1851 interviewed A.Y. Strauss LLC attorney Evan Goldman about the state of franchising, the NLRB joint-employer ruling and what he loves about franchise law.
About Evan Goldman:
Evan Goldman graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Sports Management and obtained his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School. Since graduation, Goldman has held a number of prominent positions within the law category and is currently partner at A.Y. Strauss, LLC. At A.Y. Strauss, Goldman works as a franchise and hospitality attorney and works closely with both franchisor and franchisee clients to draft, negotiate, and register disclosure documents, franchise agreements and related key documentation.
1851: What drew you to franchise law and what are some of the things you like about working in the field?
Goldman: Candidly, I fell into franchise law. I was working at a large corporation, not enjoying it, and decided to look for a job in private practice. One of the jobs that I found was at a firm that focused on franchise law — an area of practice I didn’t even know existed. But I instantly fell in love with the field because it allowed me to help actual people. Whether it’s a mom-and-pop business looking to expand or someone looking to leave their own corporate role, I get to make a real difference for real people.
And, because we work with clients in all types of franchise systems, I learn about a ton of different businesses. At one point, I used to joke, I could run a lice-removal business, a convenience store and a home health-care franchise, because I was so intimately involved with their businesses. That’s what I truly love about working in franchise law.
1851: What is something you think every franchisor should know about franchising?
Goldman: Franchising is entirely different from whatever business you’re currently in. If you own a pizzeria and you’re franchising the business, you’re no longer a pizzeria owner that franchises. You’re a franchisor of pizzerias. Your entire business model and mental landscape must change. Because people are investing in your willingness to put in the time and effort to permit them to succeed in your concept. This is often misunderstood by franchisors, and, in my litigation experience, leads to unhappy franchisees if the franchisor cannot, or will not, make that leap.
1851: What is something you think every prospective franchisee should know about franchising?
Goldman: Whether you’re the first franchisee in a system or the 1000th, there is always risk in franchising. There are no guarantees and it is important to put yourself in a position to succeed and — perhaps more importantly, if you’re not going to be successful — to be protected against the potential downside of franchising.
I can say from experience, having represented hundreds of franchisees, that understanding what you’re buying from the outset and protecting yourself appropriately through the use of a respected franchise attorney, is a must. Otherwise, without committing your time and resources pre-purchase, you’re setting yourself and the franchisor up for failure.
1851: What do you see as the biggest or most interesting topic in franchising over the next year and why?
Goldman: One thing that I see in the franchise space, and in the food industry in particular, is people searching for the “next thing.” Sometimes that means that the current thing isn’t the right one and changes are going to need to be made. One concept I hear a lot about is Ghost Kitchens, which, I think are going to be a risky, but interesting, proposition for franchisees. Just as the way people receive and eat their food is changing, a lot of other concepts are going to need modernization to meet today’s consumer’s needs. One issue is going to be who fronts that bill. Most franchisors require the franchisees to carry that burden, but Jersey Mike’s recently announced it is investing $150M into its franchisees’ stores, which I think can start an interesting trend of bringing the franchise system, and its franchisees, into the current design scheme, with the ultimate goal of increasing overall sales, which should help the franchisor and franchisee alike.