Last month, the International Franchise Association (IFA) celebrated an important, precedent-setting veto by California Governor Jerry Brown of a harmful franchise relations bill. (Read the statement from IFA CEO Steve Caldeira here.) Senate Bill 610 would have been a significant blow to the franchise model across the state and it’s not the only threat the industry currently faces.
The IFA is engaging its Franchise Action Network (FAN) — a collective group of franchisors, franchisees and suppliers more than 1,700 strong and growing — to take on these threats. S.B. 610 is one of many issues, such as the National Labor Relations Board joint-employer ruling and the discriminatory definition within the Seattle minimum wage law, that could cripple the business model. Franchisees and franchisors opposed S.B. 610 and participated in grassroots efforts, resulting in a significant win for franchising.
“There’s power in numbers and it’s the stories of our Franchise Action Network members that resonate with government officials, helping educate and make informed decisions on these issues,” says Matt Haller, Senior Vice President, Media Relations & Public Affairs, and International Franchise Association. “The S.B. 610 victory is a prime example of our grassroots efforts in action and how coming together through one collaborative grassroots effort proves successful in making our voices heard with these lawmakers. The more ‘FANs’ we have, the stronger our voice will be.”
At the IFA’s recent Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., franchisees met with members of Congress to share their stories and how such issues would negatively impact their businesses. Lawrence “Doc” Cohen, the first franchisee to be inducted into the International Franchise Association Hall of Fame and past IFA chairman, has seen the franchising industry grow and shift dramatically over the last 35 years he has been with Great American Cookies. For Cohen, FAN is an incredibly important grassroots effort to protect the business model.
“My biggest concern is regulatory agencies like the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board making decisions that would negatively affect franchising,” he explains. “It worries me they don’t understand the business model. But that would be OK, because we can educate them. But if they do understand franchising, that’s even scarier — threatening, even. Because it’s government getting involved into private agreements between franchisor and franchisee.”
Through www.FranchiseActionNetwork.com, the IFA is empowering franchisors, franchisees and suppliers to get involved. By building FAN across the nation, Haller says industry peers will be prepared to handle future federal, state and city issues that threaten the franchising business model. Over the next several months, FAN will be educating franchisees, franchisors and suppliers in each state on public policy issues in their area, which will prepare and position the franchise industry for what’s sure to be an active legislative session in 2015 and beyond.