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Advocating for Franchising & Your Business

Stephen J. Caldeira, CFE, International Franchise Association President & CEO

Stephen J. Caldeira, CFE, International Franchise Association President & CEO

As President & CEO of the International Franchise Association, I want to thank those of you who could join us at this year’s Public Affairs Conference. As you know, the IFA is the only trade association dedicated to protecting, promoting and enhancing the franchise industry. We are proactively advocating each and every day at both the state and federal levels for legislative and regulatory issues that will support the continued growth of the franchise business model. We are also continuing our very aggressive schedule to cultivate and sustain our relationships with key members of Congress and state legislators to ensure that we have strong allies who understand our issues and the vital role that franchising plays in the U.S. economy.

Issues That Impact Your Business

From comprehensive tax and immigration reform, new regulations at the federal level and franchise-specific legislation in the states, your elected officials have an enormous amount of influence over how you run your business. It’s up to you to be an active participant in shaping those policies through the political process, which is why we are so glad that hundreds of IFA members could join us in Washington again this year to share their experiences with lawmakers and their staff. For two days, franchisors, franchisees and suppliers representing businesses all over the country joined together to present a unified voice on behalf of the franchise industry. Your compelling stories put a personal face on franchising, one that policymakers and their staffers will be sure to remember when drafting future legislation and making important policy decisions that impact your bottom lines.

Making the Affordable Care Act Work for Your Business

Refining the Affordable Care Act has been a major goal of ours as an association and an industry since President Obama signed it into law in 2010, and we have made substantial progress in that regard, including the recent delay of the employer mandate provision. Although it appears that, at least in the near term, outright repeal of the ACA is not feasible, we have therefore appropriately focused on a number of practical, common-sense reforms to reduce the onerous and costly burdens they will place on franchise businesses. The recent delay in implementation of the ACA’s employer mandate is a great victory for the industry in the short-term and there is no better time to push for further reforms on Capitol Hill.

Our primary federal initiative at this time involves changing the definition of a full-time employee under the ACA from 30 hours a week to the industry standard 40 hours a week. IFA is leading the charge on Capitol Hill for this important fix which will enable employers to avoid both costly penalties and slashing their workers’ hours, especially in a time of still sluggish economic growth. We have worked with lawmakers to introduce bipartisan bills in both the House and the Senate on this issue. The IFA will continue to keep its laser-like focus on this potential opportunity, while simultaneously pushing for substantial pro-growth reforms to ensure U.S. businesses will remain competitive in the global marketplace.

Call on IFA’s Government Affairs & Public Policy Team

The collective skills of our Government Relations & Public Policy team, developed over decades of experience in Washington and in state capitals, will continue to be a great asset in raising awareness about the franchise industry and its power to create jobs and promote economic growth during this time of recovery. IFA’s staff is here to make sure your advocacy experience is rewarding, effective and the staff will always be readily available as a resource throughout the year to help you build your relationships with your lawmakers in both Washington, D.C. and in the states. Our Government Relations & Public Policy staff is available year round to help coordinate meetings with your lawmakers and address issues that might affect your businesses at all levels of government.

What You Can Do to Help Throughout the Year

While our Government Relations & Public Policy team plays an important role in protecting the diverse interests of the men and women who make up the franchise industry and serve as the day-to-day liaisons on Capitol Hill and in the states, the IFA’s greatest strength rests with you – our members. The years of hard work that you have put into building your businesses offers a wealth of practical experience and perspective on the important issues being debated in the halls of Congress and in state capitals. Our organization represents franchisors, franchisees and suppliers, each sitting on a treasure trove of triumphs, missteps and lessons learned on what businesses really need to grow and thrive in this still recovering economy. Your stories serve as vital resources that enable our representatives and their staffers to make more informed decisions, benefiting not only our nation’s franchise businesses and their employees, but also the millions of people and customers who depend on them every day for goods and services.

However, you must play an active role to make a real difference in order to directly impact your own success. President John F. Kennedy once said, “Political action is the highest responsibility of a citizen.” We couldn’t agree more − which is why, whether you could make it to the Public Affairs Conference (ADP is the conference Founding Sponsor and Franchisee of the Year Award sponsor), this year or not, I encourage you to make your voice heard throughout the year by joining IFA’s Franchise Congress program. Since the program’s inception in 2009, participants have built stronger connections with their representatives at both the state and federal levels than ever before − leading meetings, answering questions and becoming better informed about the issues that affect their businesses. Franchise Congress offers action alerts on important issues to keep you informed, expedient ways to contact your representatives and other resources to more effectively convey your most compelling stories to your legislators.

IFA works throughout the year to make franchising’s voice heard, but we need your help to keep up that effort. By participating in IFA grassroots advocacy programs, like Franchise Congress, you can ensure that your specific concerns are expressed to lawmakers. To join Franchise Congress, please contact IFA’s Senior Director of Political Affairs, Grassroots Advocacy & Multi-Unit Franchisee Engagement Erica Farage at 202-662-0760 or efarage@franchise.org.

Franchising is ultimately about personal initiative. All of our members have personally committed themselves to building their businesses, and have invested substantial amounts of time, money and effort toward that purpose. However, the political process is ultimately a collaborative effort, with thousands of different interests competing for attention. Franchisors, franchisees, suppliers and their employees must all work together to succeed. By supporting the IFA and becoming an active participant in your government and the political process, you are ensuring that our elected representatives hear the voice of the franchise business community loud and clear.

 

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