Looking Ahead to 2013
As we start a new year, I want to thank you for your ongoing and steadfast support of the IFA and of the franchise industry. Because of your membership and your support, we have made great strides this year that will affect IFA members for years to come, despite a still sluggish economic recovery, partisan gridlock in Washington and uncertainty on public policy issues.
On the federal level, IFA continued to oppose the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, while at the same time worked, and continues to work, to mitigate the impact of the new law on franchise businesses. We are seeking flexibility in regulations for IFA members who will need to comply with the law’s employer mandate. We have also retained expert health care advisors to help members understand the complex regulations through several panels and webinars this year.
On labor issues, through a leadership position on the management committee of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, we helped to successfully prevent regulatory actions that would amount to “card check,” to protect the right to a federally supervised private ballot when workers are deciding whether to join a union.
At the state level, IFA successfully prevented onerous legislation to pass by the California Assembly that would have negatively impacted how franchises operate, again, stifling growth and job creation.
And we continue to proactively advocate for independent contractor legislation that is progressing in Delaware, Indiana, Massachusetts and Nebraska. These bills would ensure that the franchisee-franchisor relationship is not an employment relationship, but rather an independent contractor relationship.
Many of IFA’s accomplishments can be attributed to the power of our grassroots. IFA’s Franchise Congress program continues to grow by creating important relationships with members of Congress and state legislators in every congressional district and state.
One of the biggest achievements in 2012 was the growth in receipts of FranPAC, IFA’s political action committee. The IFA Strategic Plan called for receipts to reach $1 million by the end of the 2013/2014 election cycle. The goal was reached in September of 2012, well before the set timeline, which puts FranPAC among the top echelon of trade association PACs. At the end of 2012, FranPAC receipts for the 2011/2012 cycle will exceed $1.2 million.
IFA used the FranPAC receipts to support 151 pro-growth, pro-franchising candidates in the 2012 elections with 80 percent of the candidates winning their seats. FranPAC is increasingly supporting strong, pro-business candidates and policymakers in a bipartisan way because they truly understand the issues IFA members are facing.
As the new Congress convenes in 2013, IFA will build on the groundwork laid in 2012 to push for comprehensive tax reform that lowers both corporate and individual tax rates, through a comprehensive lobbying and public relations campaign to ensure our voice is heard.
Access to affordable credit continued to be a top priority in 2012. IFA held a second Small Business Lending Summit, which strengthened relationships with the lending community and government financial agencies to spur access to credit for franchise businesses. Our research showed that lending to franchise businesses has improved in the past year, but lending levels were still not expected to meet demand, so we will continue to work diligently in this area to enhance credit access in both the commercial and SBA lending areas.
To support our advocacy efforts, we significantly increased our presence in the national, regional and local media outlets to tout our public policy positions, strategic initiatives and to further educate the public and policymakers about the importance of franchising to the U.S. economy. Through a concentrated earned and paid media initiative working closely with IFA leaders and members in 2012, franchise messages appeared in over 20,000 articles, up 30 percent over 2011.
IFA leaders were featured nearly 30 times on major TV broadcast appearances, including MSNBC’s Chris Jansing, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, CNN, CNBC Squawk Box, FOX News, FOX & Friends, FOX Business with Neil Cavuto and Bloomberg TV to discuss IFA policy positions and the industry’s economic impact. To extend further our message to policymakers, full-page, color ads were designed to promote the need for comprehensive tax reform and were placed in National Journal, Roll Call and POLITICO, influential inside the beltway publications during the 2012 Public Affairs Conference in September.
And through the hard work of our member companies, there has been a surge of franchise brands hiring and recruiting veterans since 2011. Over 150 new franchise companies have joined VetFran since the launch of Operation Enduring Opportunity last year, for a total of over 530 franchise brands now actively hiring and developing veterans as franchise business owners and team members.
In addition, over 64,000 veterans, military spouses and wounded warriors have started careers in franchising, including 4,314 who have become veteran franchise business owners, according to a study prepared for IFA by Franchise Business Review.
We continue to expand our strategic partnerships to attract more women and minorities involved in franchising, including our new, strategic alliance with the National Football League to launch a franchising boot camp next year at the University of Michigan to help pro athletes learn about franchise ownership.
IFA continued efforts to provide the resources members need to grow and sustain their businesses, including enhanced programming at educational events and increasing enrollment in the Certified Franchise Executive Program. Our research and information initiatives have been expanded so that members and the public can receive a quarterly economic forecast for the industry rather than once a year, and we launched the monthly Franchise Business Index to detect trends in the industry in real time.
And, our conferences and educational events continue to attract top headliners and key experts in business and franchising to help members keep abreast of emerging trends and best practices.
The country and the franchise industry still face daunting challenges ahead as the economy struggles to reach a full recovery, and we will continue to strive to positively influence new rules and regulations that could further hinder our growth. In 2012, we made important advances on our key priorities to ensure in the years ahead franchising remains a strong and vibrant industry at home and abroad.
Thank you again for your membership in the IFA. Your dedication to the IFA and the industry is critically important to support our efforts to ensure a bright and prosperous future for franchising.