(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of this wrongful death case and its proceedings.)
4. Universal’s Oversight of its Franchises
Universal’s District Managers, Territory Sales Managers and Business Counselors personally visited franchisees on a regular basis to advise the franchisee on how to run a profitable business. In fact, it was important that the franchise tire center and Universal work together so they could make a profit so they can stay in business.
The District Managers and Territory Sales Managers worked with franchisees to ensure that the franchise had a balanced inventory of Universal products. The District Managers and Territory Sales Managers also told the franchisees of upcoming Universal promotions and which Universal products the franchisee needed to support those promotions. Universal’s advertising department was in charge of all promotions for all Universal stores, including franchises. Jimmy Arnold of Unity always participated in Universal’s sales promotions. Indeed, Universal never had a problem with a franchisee participating in Universal’s promotions.
Universal’s Business Counselors acted as business consultants to the franchisee. The Business Counselors oversaw whether the franchise operated like a Universal-owned store and followed Universal’s standards. This includes control of the franchise employee’s behavior and work practices. For example, if a franchise employee was the subject of customer complaints, Universal notified the dealer so in that way, [Universal] would try to control what he was doing, you know, the dealer. [Id.] Further, Business Counselors advised the franchisees to send their employees to Universal-certified classes or schools and receive National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence ( ASE ) certification. Universal-trained mechanics and representatives from brake manufacturers, such as Bendix and Raybestos, instructed franchise service personnel on how to remove and install brakes.
(The discovery issues presented here are common to most personal injury cases.)
Finally, Universal’s Business Counselors advised franchisees on the right ratios between service and product sales. For example, they advised the franchisee to add brake services because it provided a complete portfolio of automotive services and helped profitability. Also, Universal required its franchises to supply certain products and use certain equipment. Indeed, Universal provided its franchisees a list of distributors for asbestos-containing brakes and the franchisees more likely than not ordered products from such distributors since the franchises would get the same price as a Universal retail store, and it was a good price. (See Part 7 of 14.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.