Franchise Accounting: Essential Tips for Recording Fees and Transactions

Accounting for Franchises

he world of franchising offers exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs. You get to leverage a successful brand name, established business model, and ongoing support from the franchisor. But along with the benefits come unique accounting considerations. 

Franchise accounting isn’t just about recording sales and tracking expenses; it involves understanding specific fees, amortisation schedules and how to deduct them in franchise accounting, and reporting requirements. 

This guide will equip you with the basics of franchise accounting, helping you navigate the financial aspects of franchise ownership.

Franchise Fees: The Backbone of Franchise Accounting

A core concept in franchise accounting is the franchise fee. This upfront payment grants the franchisee (the owner of the individual franchise location) the right to operate under the franchisor’s (the company that licences the brand) brand name and business model. The initial franchise fee typically covers various startup costs, including:

  • Training and Support: The franchisor provides comprehensive training programmes for franchisees and their staff, ensuring everyone understands the brand standards and operational procedures.
  • Marketing Materials: Franchisees receive access to marketing materials and brand guidelines, allowing them to effectively promote their business within the established framework.
  • Site Selection and Development: The franchisor might offer assistance in finding a suitable location and designing the franchise outlet according to brand specifications.
Amortisation: Spreading the Cost of the Franchise Fee

The initial franchise fee isn’t considered an expense; it’s classified as an intangible asset on the franchisee’s balance sheet. This is because it represents a long-term benefit—the right to operate the franchise business for a specified period. However, franchisees don’t get the entire benefit upfront. This is where amortisation comes in. 

Amortisation is an intermediate accounting technique that spreads the cost of an intangible asset, like trademarks, over its useful life. In franchise accounting, the franchisee amortises the initial franchise fee over the life of the franchise agreement, typically 15 years. This means the franchisee records a portion of the fee as an expense each year.

Ongoing Costs and Accounting Considerations

Franchise accounting involves more than just the initial franchise fee. Franchisees also incur ongoing costs, such as:

  • Monthly Franchise Fees: These fees are typically a percentage of the franchisee’s revenue and are paid to the franchisor on a monthly basis. They contribute to ongoing support services, marketing initiatives, and brand development.
  • Royalty Fees: Royalties are another ongoing fee, usually based on a percentage of the franchisee’s revenue. They compensate the franchisor for the use of their brand name, trademarks, and intellectual property.
  • Marketing and Advertising Fees: Some franchisors may require franchisees to contribute to a national or regional marketing fund. These fees ensure consistent brand messaging and marketing efforts across all continuing franchise locations.

Franchisees need to account for all these ongoing expenses in their financial records to accurately track the fee’s implications. This allows them to track their profitability, monitor cash flow, and make informed business decisions.

The Role of a CPA in Franchise Accounting

While the basics of franchise accounting can be grasped, navigating the intricacies of the system can be challenging. This is where a qualified Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with expertise in franchise accounting becomes invaluable. A CPA can help franchisees with:

  • Understanding the Franchise Agreement: The franchise agreement outlines the specific fees, royalties, and reporting requirements associated with starting a franchise. A CPA can help franchisees understand the financial implications of the agreement and ensure they are in compliance with its terms.
  • Setting Up the Accounting System: A CPA can guide franchisees in establishing a proper accounting system that tracks all income and expenses, including franchise-specific fees.
  • Tax Planning and Preparation: Deducting franchise fees and understanding the amortisation of these costs are key aspects. Franchise accounting involves unique tax considerations and explains accounting principles specific to this business model. A CPA can advise franchisees on maximising tax deductions related to franchise fees, amortisation, an essential debit in the franchise accounting process, and other expenses.
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis: Regular financial reporting is crucial for any business, but it’s especially important for franchisees, who need to comply with the franchisor’s reporting requirements. A CPA can help prepare accurate financial statements and analyse results to identify areas for improvement.
Mastering the Franchise Accounting Game

By understanding the fundamentals of franchise accounting, including franchise fees, amortisation, and ongoing costs, you’ll be well-equipped to manage the financial aspects of your franchise business. However, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A qualified CPA with franchise accounting expertise can be your trusted advisor, ensuring you navigate the complexities of franchise accounting with confidence and achieve long-term success.

Considering buying a franchise? Contact us today! We can guide you through the entire process of starting and operating your successful franchise business.


Q: What is franchise accounting?

A: Franchise accounting involves the specialised financial management and book-keeping processes specific to franchising businesses, including tracking fees, transactions, and financial reporting.

Q: What are the key terms to know in franchise accounting?

A: It's important to be familiar with terms such as franchisee, franchisor, initial franchise fee, amortisation, intangible asset, and monthly franchise costs when dealing with franchise accounting.

Q: How do you account for initial franchise fees?

A: Initial franchise fees are typically considered an intangible asset and are amortised over the life of the franchise agreement. They should be recorded on the balance sheet and expensed gradually over time.

Q: What is the difference between franchisee accounting and franchisor accounting?

A: Franchisee accounting focuses on the financial activities and obligations of the franchisee, while franchisor accounting deals with the financial aspects of the franchisor, including collecting franchise fees and managing the brand's financial health.

Q: How are franchise marketing fees accounted for?

A: Franchise marketing fees are typically expensed as incurred on the franchisee's income statement. They are part of the ongoing costs of promoting the franchise's brand and attracting customers.

Q: When should franchise fee amortisation be recorded?

A: Franchise fee amortisation should be recorded monthly to accurately reflect the gradual recognition of the initial franchise fee as revenue over the life of the franchise agreement.

Q: What are the common types of transactions in franchise accounting?

A: Common transactions in franchise accounting include monthly franchise fees paid by franchisees to the franchisor, expenses related to operating the franchise, and payments for goods or services to the franchisor.

Q: How does recording franchise costs differ from other business accounting?

A: Recording franchise costs involves specific considerations such as fee amortisation, recognising the right to use the franchisor's brand, and tracking ongoing expenses unique to franchise operations that may not apply to other types of businesses.

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