Franchise Growth or Future Problems?

After what many franchise professionals claim was a tough couple of years, franchising seems to be gaining momentum once again. This is very encouraging news! But, franchisors must be prepared, not only to handle the increase in inquiries, but in working effectively with today’s franchise candidates who many have indicated are more diligent and cautious than ever before. Many of today’s candidates are voluntarily or involuntarily unemployed, soon to be unemployed, or, may just want to control their own destiny, and are approaching business ownership with the attitude that failure is not an option. In dealing with these candidates, it is essential to exercise extreme diligence in presenting the franchise opportunity all the way through to executing the franchise agreement, and beyond.

I know, many franchise professionals are probably thinking they already do that. Besides, it’s the law to fully disclose the opportunity, right? They’ll go on to state they’ve always done things by the book, at all times. Blah, blah, blah! It really doesn’t matter what was done in the past, how it was done, or why it was done. What matters is that the opportunities that present themselves today and in the future receive timely, diligent attention, at a high level of professionalism, in order for a transitioning corporate executive / business professional to even consider a company’s franchise opportunity. And, if they ultimately do sign the franchise agreement, remit the franchise fee, and commit to investing a substantial sum of money, rest assured these new franchisees will expect and command a high level of accountability from the franchisor, and from the system itself. From themselves? Not likely as they will rarely blame themselves for any part of failure. But they will hold others accountable.

Well, my fellow franchise professionals, it’s time to press those conservative suits, study your franchise documents, fine-tune your operations, and examine and perfect your franchise sales process as any shortcomings will surely raise their ugly heads in the future if today’s new franchisees become dismayed, discontented, and or fail in their businesses. They will not hold themselves accountable. Instead, they will blame the person who “sold” them their franchise, or the operations department that they perceive to have provided little or no support, or the franchise executive that they feel showed no compassion in “forcing” them into paying royalties and advertising fees.

So, why did I turn what started out to be a positive of increased franchise interest after a year of disappointing results, and turn it into a picture of potential problems complete with gloom and doom? To encourage and motivate every franchise professional to be on his or her A-game and to put their house in order. Not only to bring new franchisees and revenue into the system, but to continue to grow their system with franchisees that, when attaining a relative level of success, will refer new franchise candidates, validate the franchise system, and possibly look to purchase additional locations in the future. The alternative of course, is dedication of resources to dispute resolution, and possible litigation. Remember the old Fram oil filter commercial? You can pay now, or pay later!


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What is IFA Fran-Guard?

The International Franchise Association‘s new, greatly expanded franchise sales management and compliance program will help franchisors take proactive steps to reduce risks, manage growth, and build a stronger, healthier franchise system. IFA Fran-Guard covers both the legal and business aspects of compliance with a series of modules designed or CEOs and senior executives, franchise development professionals, in-house counsel and franchise attorneys, paralegals and compliance managers.

CEOs and Senior Executives

Not only does a system-wide compliance program protect your franchise it can make it more profitable. Modules cover the Business Case for Compliance, Franchise Sales Growth & Management, and Best Practices.

Franchise Development Professionals

There’s more to compliance than legal requirements. Learn how a sales management and compliance program can increase your effectiveness and help drive franchise sales.

In-house Counsel, Franchise Attorneys, Paralegals and Compliance Managers

It’s important to integrate all aspects of franchise sales management and compliance from disclosure to franchise sales, field support, and operations. IFA Fran-Guard modules cover practical steps to implement a system-wdie compliance program.

All CFEs and CFE Candidates

IFA Fran-Guard has been incorporated into ICFE’s professional development program. IFA members who successfully complete the IFA Fran-Guard program will receive an ICFE Fran-Guard Certificate. All modules are approved for CFE credits.

Where is IFA Fran-Guard Available

Programs will be offered throughout the year at various IFA meetings and conferences and in different formats to make participation more convenient. Courses will be presented online via IFA University and through a series of webinars. A schedule of upcoming sessions may be found on the IFA website.

Fran-Guard Discussed on Franchise Today

Recently on Franchise Today, Paul Segreto welcomed as his guest, David French, Vice President, Government Relations at the International Franchise Association. Paul and David discussed franchise compliance and the development of the IFA FranGuard Program previously introduced at the IFA Convention in San Antonio. Listen On-Demand

About the International Franchise Association

The International Franchise Association, the world’s oldest and largest organization representing franchising, is the preeminent voice and acknowledged leader for the industry worldwide. Approaching a half-century of service with a growing membership of more than 1,100 franchise systems, 10,000-plus franchisees and more than 500 firms that supply goods and services to the industry, IFA protects, enhances and promotes franchising by advancing the values of integrity, respect, trust, commitment to excellence, honesty and diversity. For more information, visit the IFA Web site at www.franchise.org.

Source: International Franchise Association


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Discussion About IFA’s 50th Anniversary Exemplifies What Franchising is Really About!

Recently, on the International Franchise Association group on LinkedIn, I posted the following discussion, “The 50th Annual IFA Convention in San Antonio is less than three weeks away. Will you be attending? If so, what do you hope to bring back to your organization? If not, is there a specific reason?”

Many franchise professionals responded and explained why they would be attending the event. Most of the responses centered around sharing ideas and building relationships. Sure, some mentioned exploring new opportunities with potential and existing clients, but we are all in business to make money, right? But in addition to generating new business, almost all that responded were looking to interact with fellow franchise professionals. Hopefully, long-term relationships will be established over time and the franchise community will continue to evolve and strengthen.

One of the responses was from franchise veteran, Michael Seid. He stated that he had been going to IFA conventions for 25 years. I really admired the fact that he had attended these events for over a quarter of a century! Think about all that has changed in 25 years. Just think about the technological changes that have occurred during this period of time. I mean no one was walking around the IFA event in 1985 with a cell phone, right? How about a laptop? Could anyone have even imagined the internet and email? Heck, fax machines were barely around in 1985, albeit the ones that were used that ridiculous paper that always seemed to roll onto to the floor and under a desk… just out of reach.

Yes, times sure have changed, but the love and passion for franchising apparently has not. It’s just been passed onto people like Michael Seid. By virtue of his responses to my original discussion, and subsequent question, “I’m curious, what was the convention like back in, what, 1985?”, Michael takes us down memory lane and does so in such a dignified manner and with genuine sincerity, that he really seemed to pay it forward. For the benefit of all within the franchise community, I am honored to share his response below.

“1985 was in Miami if I recall and that was not my first so it may be longer than [25 years]. If I recall the attendance at my first convention was measured in the hundreds – not like we have now in the thousands. It was a much different association – we have come a long way with programming and content and member services. A lot of the founders were still around. I just got a great biography of Joe Francis from The Barbers who was very active years ago. If you did not know Joe you missed a great man – really a fine individual who went out of his way to give guidance to anyone who asked for his help. His son is still very active in the IFA. It’s a great quick read if you have not seen the book. Joe is gone 15 or more years.

The culture of the IFA has not changed. You can still corner an experienced member as a new comer and they seem always to be thrilled to mentor and give advice. I remember asking Fred DeLuca a question when I was new in the association and he spent two or more hours giving me his advice. That has not changed at all as most members today will do the same for a new comer.

Looking back at what has changed – No franchisees back then. That was a major difference Steve Lynn and Jim Bugg made that happen). No PAC to speak of (Sid Feltenstein changed that). No franchise appreciation day (Bernie Browning‘s idea). No Education Foundation only an education committee (I think Sid Feltenstein is also responsible for that). No thought of diversity or minorities in franchising (Ron Harrison). No VetFran (Don Dwyer‘s idea during the first gulf war). No Second Tuesdays (if it was not Lane Fisher and Scott Lehr then they were responsible for making it grow as it has). Who would have thought we would be looking at using franchising to provide products and services to the poor in the emerging markets and yet today we have the Social Sector Franchising task force. No CFE (John Reynolds). No one would have thought of a franchisee ever being chairman (Steve Siegel was the first and Doc Cohen the second). No franchisees or suppliers forum leadership on the board (Joyce Mazero if I recall was the first Counsel of Suppliers chair on the board and Jeff Kolton was the second – although we had no vote then. Supplier membership on the Executive Committee did not exist (I had that privilege when I was supplier chair to be the first because of Gary Charlwood).

I remember the IFA chair years ago saying that he would never let a mattress salesman (his word for suppliers) ever being on the board. Suppliers got a board vote when Gary Charlwood was chairman). No suppliers elected to the board in their own name for six years (I was privileged to be the first and Lane Fisher the second). No women as chairman (Joanne Shaw was the first and Dina Dwyer the second). No major investment in research (Mike Isakson). I think Jim Amos when he was chair actually creating the first IFA long range strategic plan. When Don DeBolt became president of the IFA we were near bankrupt and look at the great financial condition we are in now (Russ Frith as Treasurer did an amazing job). We did a lousy job in lobbying years ago and now we have a huge public affairs team. We dealt with Coble and LaFalce holding hearings on relationship laws in Congress and those days are gone.

Yes a lot has changed over the years. We owe a debt to a lot of some very smart folks who were in the leadership back then who kept adding great elements to make the association better. Along the way we had some who were less than stellar also but for the most part, we have been fortunate by those who chose to be in the leadership. Lets not forget the amazing job Debbie Moss has done in growing and professionalizing the convention supported by a really professional team of staff.

Still with all of the change, growth and the better financial condition of the association, the culture of the IFA has not really changed. I expect that many of the members/leaders from years ago who have not been active in the IFA will be at the 50th anniversary. Some of them will be surprised and pleased how far we have come.”


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