As Subway announced what it dubbed its “biggest changes in the brand"s history,” at least one franchisee wonder why they didn"t include an ext direct answers to troubles he fears might break the brand.

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July 7, 2021

With the self-described "transformation" plan, it"s clean Subway is functioning to an increase its image and also popularity amongst the sandwich-eating QSR crowd. Alters are coming to whatever from one of its most foundational facets — bread — to brand customer suffer elements, including a revamped digital interface and also a smattering that store design improvements. But, what around the difficulties some the its franchisees have actually expressed through the brand? Is it particularly making any direct efforts — past what the calls its "biggest menu alters in history" — to get on better terms through these truest ambassadors of the brand?

Some that their issues were laid out in an April open letter, because that example, sent to Subway owner, Elizabeth DeLuca, from around 100 franchisees (as well as a follow-up letter in might to DeLuca from around 250 franchisees). In those documents, franchisees alleged the owning a Subway ar was nothing short of "a nightmare" and also asked the brand"s management to make changes.

Subway, however, insisted that the franchisees behind that activity were nothing much more than a vocal decimal of owners whose views to be contrary to the of the majority of its 10,000 franchisees. This website can not discover a franchisee ready to walk on the record, however one franchisee — that refused to it is in publicly figured out — claimed his endure with Subway"s leadership has actually been filled with are afraid of retribution for anything much less than toeing the company line. In fact, he alleged that the brand"s franchisee difficulties are systemic and also rooted in the chain"s existing ownership.

He also said that the chain"s recent franchise disclosure document specifically banned franchisees from speak negatively around the brand lest lock risk everything from lose of their 8% aristocracy rate, to outright lose of their save or stores.

Despite several inquiries indigenous, Subway declined to comment directly to every of the allegations the franchisee spelled the end in the adhering to question-and-answer session, or to allow an interview through Subway leadership roughly his allegations. Instead, the brand exit the complying with statement:

"Subway is committed to the permanent success the our more than 10,000 franchisees and provides multiple forums for franchisees come share feedback, functioning hand-in-hand v them to ensure decisions are focused on maximizing their profitability. We space listening and engaging through franchise investors; striving for operational excellence in partnership v the franchise network; and elevating every aspect of our business — native digital innovation and also focusing on crave-able food to creating combined marketing campaigns and strategic partnerships that bolster our franchisees" business."

In fact, the company went on to say the the revolution plan going into effect on July 13 was part of its initiatives to assist its franchisees to better business.

"Our aim v the brand refresh is to accumulate our franchise network — a group that"s feather to united state for what"s new and following from the brand," the company told "Our planned updates in July demonstrate our commitment to investing in the Subway brand to supply a return because that our franchisees" restaurants and fuel our guests" passion for Subway." The cotton franchisee, however, disagreed, share his endure below.

Q: What would certainly you to speak is your No. 1 trouble with Subway as a company, family member to you together a franchisee today? A:The biggest problem is that Subway is working against us. As soon as you room a franchisor, her goal is to enhance the revenue and also growth of your franchisees.

With Subway it"s the exact opposite. As a franchisee, that feels as though Subway corporate is working against us every day. Personally, i think castle want us to fail.

"I to be glad the franchisees room speaking out and the truth about Fred Deluca, Elisabeth Deluca, the BDAs, the one-sided arbitrations, and everything rather is comes to light. Because that years they have actually been may be to gain away with everything, due to the fact that people were afraid come tell your story. Hopefully that will end."

-Subway franchisee

The following main difficulty is absence of leadership. It starts at the peak with Elisabeth Deluca (co-owner and widow the Subway co-founder, Fred Deluca) and (Subway co-founder) Peter Buck. If Dr. Buck is end 90 and also never has had anything to perform with Subway"s business, the DeLucas have constantly had one active function in Subway.

In the work of Fred Deluca (who died Sept. 14, 2015), the was managing everything. Currently in the days of Elisabeth Deluca, it"s a mix of her regulating some points from much away and also being quiet on everything else, thereby creating a power vacuum where poor actors in ~ Subway have actually been happy to run for years.

This has actually led come franchisee frustration through local advancement agents, corporate management like john Chidsey, and ownership favor Elisabeth Deluca, yet not knowing who"s the one that"s really behind every one of the bad decisions.

Q: So just how do these perceived troubles with the chain"s management impact its success and franchisees" success, by proxy? A: management has additionally not to be responsive come the marketplace. One factor Subway is coming back slower the end of the pandemic is the absence of drive-thru stores. Subway additionally lags behind other rivals when it comes to online ordering and delivery.

There room other issues related to the brand such together a one-sided franchisee agreement, no nobility forgiveness for the COVID-19 pandemic, (franchisees) not receiving vegetables much more than when per week, disagreements about pricing, royalties, etc., however the bottom line is lock don"t yes, really care about us.

Q: Subway has actually said that believes its issues with franchisees are restricted to a few discontent owners, quite than the majority of that is franchisees. Therefore — and also acknowledging the this would be speculation in some component — how many Subway franchisees execute you feel currently have the same kinds of problems that you do with the company? A: The prize is thousands.

At its height Subway had actually a small bit under 28,000 stores. Per the critical FDD, Subway now has 22,000 stores as of Dec. 31, 2020. That"s 6,000 stores that felt the Subway to be no much longer worth the investment.

At its current pace, Subway is now shedding close come 2,000 stores per year. That"s more than some entire chains.

While those 6,000 shop felt that was better to leave, there room still thousands of us who are below still trying to assist Subway build earlier and it is in No. 1 again.

However, (in) the new franchisee agreement with Subway, franchisees are no longer allowed to talk to each other about common troubles they are encountering at Subway. If we perform talk to each other, we threat not only shedding our stores and also livelihoods but likewise risk paying a $150,000 early termination penalty to Subway.

Think about it, you put your life"s savings right into the save (and) you do the failure of talking to another franchisee about a common problem, then they take away her store. On peak of that Subway will certainly make you pay $150,000 in cash (as a fee) — so that they can take away her store, your life"s savings.

Q: I understand what you"re saying, yet is there a possibility that, for instance, Subway"s franchisee issues seem bigger 보다 they are simply because those franchisees talking around the problems are a particularly vocal minority and also don"t stand for the bulk of the chain"s franchisees? A: This is definitely not at play. If it were climate Subway (would) just be targeting its more punitive measures at a little group the franchisees to gain the poor apples the end of the bunch. However, Subway is walk after every the franchisees. They space taking over your purchasing, your hours of operation, her pricing, her equity structure — pretty lot everything.

We space still in a global pandemic and also — uneven McDonalds, citizens King and also other brands — us (Subway) didn"t recuperate as easily. We (Subway franchisees) dubbed for a diminished royalty to help franchisees throughout these hard times.

Instead of bringing the nobility to 4.5% — i m sorry is what (Subway CEO and former citizens King CEO) man Chidsey had actually at burger King, they have successfully raised the nobility to 10%. We said that we needed relief because 8% (Subway"s nobility rate) is the highest possible royalty price of any type of top 25 franchise in the U.S. They said if girlfriend don"t desire to salary 8% (with brand-new conditions, follow to the 2021 FDD), fine, the royalty is now 10%. And, if girlfriend don"t desire to pay the 10%, you have to turn over operational regulate of her stores to Subway.

This is a lose-lose situation. You can pay the 10% and also lose most all of the benefit in the store or you can pay 8% through strings attached.

What wake up if Subway wants to operation $5 Footlong all year? gross sales will certainly go up but profitability will plummet. But Subway doesn"t care around franchisee profitability due to the fact that they acquire paid on pistol sales.

What happens as soon as Subway states that you need to spend $100k come refresh her store? As part of the brand-new agreement, friend can"t say no come them.

And once you do your store refresh, (according to the 2021 FDD) you far better not near the keep for two days or more. If friend do, Subway will can take away your save with no best of arbitration.

While shedding the save is scary, I have the right to see a scenario, where once you"ve closed your save for 2 days due to the fact that of a strength outage, organic disaster, commonwealth holiday, remodeling, everything the case, Subway deserve to hold it end you that they deserve to take your save overnight with no questions asked.

Then you can truly never ever say no come them. They would certainly run you right into the ground, and also when lock felt together though they couldn"t to express you because that more, that"s as soon as it"s time to carry in the following victim/new franchisee.

Q: Subway franchisees have also expressed concerns with the chain"s system with the business development agents(BDAs), for this reason what role do BDAs play in the enforcement the the brand"s contract with franchisees in your respective sector area and also do you also have issues in this area? A:In the past when Subway was in a hyper-growth phase, Fred Deluca came up through a super-franchisee concept, referred to as a Business breakthrough Agent. A BDA would be offered a territory and be tasked through recruiting together many brand-new stores together humanly possible, even setting them up across the street from each other. In return, they would receive up to one-third of the royalties paid by franchisees from that territory.

There is an natural flaw in this mechanism insofar together your ceo is additionally your competitor. As soon as your boss (the BDA) has a store surrounding yours, he"d choose to take her customers and revenue.

While Fred Deluca was CEO, he was able to keep the BDAs in check and managed to resolve disputes in between BDAs and also franchisees. Throughout Fred"s time, Subway"s device was relatively balanced amongst its contents (including) DAs, franchisees, purchasing, marketing. Fred made certain of that.

Now all these pieces room not in alignment and it shows. Nobody is in charge.

Towards the finish of Fred"s life and definitely after ~ his passing, Subway started squeezing the BDAs. BDAs had actually 20-year contracts.

Since Subway had actually grown so rapidly, Fred felt that BDAs need to make less because the expansion pace was slowing down, also though (its) volume was the largest in the world. So the BDAs had to open twice the stores to make the exact same amount of pay. When this worked for a while, eventually BDAs ran the end of stores to open. That"s when BDAs experienced their incomes cut in half.

At this point, some BDAs left, and brand-new ones were brought in that were paid even less. This caused a cannibalistic relationship in between BDAs and also franchisees. Due to the fact that a BDA is additionally a franchisee, if lock can"t make money from opening new stores, they can make money closing and also selling existing stores. Every time a keep is sold, that generates a new franchise fee, i beg your pardon gets break-up with the BDA.

The trouble that BDAs had was that stores weren"t close up door down and they weren"t opening up new locations. For this reason BDAs had to force stores come close. They accomplished this by comes up v phony inspections whereby they would note you under one week for having a smudge ~ above the window, the next week for cutting the carrots the wrong size, climate the following week because that not transferring the most present Subway gift card.

That"s three strikes. You"re out.

The many nefarious BDAs started to target the most lucrative locations in the territory, close them down v a bogus inspection and also then buy the ar for themselves. This to be a really common practice after Fred Deluca passed and while Subway was led through Elisabeth Deluca.

Q: does Subway as a firm have a good checks-and-balance system, for instance, its governing board? If so, what if anything has come native them concerning some of your allegations? A: Subway does have actually a board, however it is Dr. Buck and also his son, Christopher, add to Elisabeth Deluca and her son, Jonathan Deluca. It"s not an elevation board.

As franchisees, us do have actually a franchisee association, phibìc American association of Subway Franchisees. However, for most of the association"s tenure, they have actually never stood as much as Subway and have, in many cases, gone follow me to obtain along.

Recently, together Subway has started to strike all franchisees, NAASF has taken a an ext pro-franchisee stance. Lock realize the Subway isn"t just attacking the small guy anymore, they room attacking everyone.

Q: yet today Subway announced its revolution plan, which it claimed is draft to help franchisees and their service goals, so carry out you think that"s movement in a far better direction or are franchisees, instead of getting to the tipping suggest in your view? A: many of us have years into Subway. Few of us have our whole life"s savings into Subway. We desire to check out it obtain better. We have too lot at stake.

My expect is that the Delucas and also Bucks cash the end of Subway, and also write a considerable rebate check from the revenue to franchisees for every one of our damages, pain and also suffering. I recognize they have actually hired some new executives, and I"m certain they think they deserve to turn Subway around. Yet as long as the Delucas and Bucks space owners, and also their cronies room in charge, things will never ever change.

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I am glad the franchisees room speaking out and the truth about Fred Deluca, Elisabeth Deluca, the BDAs, the one-sided arbitrations, and also everything else is coming to light. For years they have been maybe to acquire away through everything due to the fact that people were afraid come tell your stories. Hopefully, that will certainly end.