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NFL and IFA Launch Franchising Boot Camp

Erica Fitzsimmons is senior director of political affairs, grassroots advocacy & multi-unit franchisee engagement for the International Franchise Association.

Erica Fitzsimmons is senior director of political affairs, grassroots advocacy & multi-unit franchisee engagement for the International Franchise Association.

The International Franchise Association and the National Football League will execute the first NFL Franchising Boot Camp, an intensive program for approximately 30 current and former NFL players and their spouses who are interested in learning about the franchise industry. IFA President and CEO Steve Caldeira, CFE, Senior Vice President of Government Relations & Public Policy Judith Thorman and Senior Director of Political Affairs, Grassroots Advocacy & Multi-Unit Franchisee Engagement Erica Fitzsimmons, traveled to the NFL’s headquarters in New York Dec. 12 to announce the partnership.

The boot camp is scheduled for April 26-29, 2013 at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, named for Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. The boot camp will be keynoted by Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, a former NFL receiver for the Baltimore Colts and franchisee himself, who built an empire of 800 restaurants from one hamburger stand.

“We are thrilled to partner with the NFL to design a program that educates current and former players and their spouses on a path to potential business ownership in franchising,” said Caldeira. “Franchising is a proven, structured and very scalable business model that can result in a predictable return on your initial investment. Despite the recent economic downturn, growth in the franchise sector has continued to outpace growth in other businesses due to the strength of the franchise business model.”

“There are many parallels to success in business and football and the opportunity to provide whatever insight I may have to this select group is appreciated.”
Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson

“As both a former player and one who is still active in the foodservice industry, I am excited and honored to address these players,” said Richardson, a Baltimore Colts receiver (1959-1960) who became a Hardee’s franchisee in 1961. Richardson grew his business to more than 600 Hardee’s restaurants and 200 Quincy Steak Houses before selling the business and becoming president and CEO for the new ownership, where he managed more than 2,500 restaurants and 100,000 employees. “There are many parallels to success in business and football and the opportunity to provide whatever insight I may have to this select group is appreciated.”

From left, IFA Pres. & CEO Steve Caldeira, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, former Mayor of Trenton, N.J. Doug Palmer and IFA 2011 Chairman and Earle Enterprises LP Managing Partner (McDonald’s multi-unit franchisee) Jack Earle.

From left, IFA Pres. & CEO Steve Caldeira, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, former Mayor of Trenton, N.J. Doug Palmer and IFA 2011 Chairman and Earle Enterprises LP Managing Partner (McDonald’s multi-unit franchisee) Jack Earle.

Several high profile players such as Drew Brees, a Jimmy John’s franchisee; Peyton Manning, a Papa John’s franchisee; and Colt McCoy, who has just signed on with Dunkin’ Donuts as a franchisee; have become part of the industry. This boot camp will provide the opportunity for more NFL athletes to learn about franchising.

Buying a franchise or being part of the franchise industry can be a solid and sustainable investment in a players’ future. But as with any major decision, it is important that players have the opportunity to do their due diligence so they can learn as much as they can about the franchise model and the potential of the industry before making a decision.

“As we continue to educate in post-playing experience career opportunities, we are excited to work with IFA and the Ross School of Business to offer the most comprehensive franchising education to our players,” said NFL Vice President of Player Engagement Troy Vincent. “This program builds upon the successes of our prior initiatives in educating and providing hands-on experience to players in a wide variety of disciplines and has the added benefit of inviting players’ spouses.”

From left, IFA Pres. & CEO Steve Caldeira and NFL Vice Pres. of Player Engagement Troy Vincent.

From left, IFA Pres. & CEO Steve Caldeira and NFL Vice Pres. of Player Engagement Troy Vincent.

Owning a franchise would allow players to go into business for themselves, but not by themselves. The franchisor provides a vast array of support and guidance including training, HR, marketing and leveraging supply-chain efficiencies to save costs.

This boot camp will allow players to better understand the franchise industry, the legal framework in which it operates, and provide attendees with general and specific knowledge allowing them to evaluate franchise opportunities.

From left, former Mayor of Trenton, N.J. Doug Palmer, IFA Senior Vice Pres., Government Relations & Public Policy Judith Thorman, IFA Pres. & CEO Steve Caldeira, NFL Vice Pres. of Player Engagement Troy Vincent, IFA 2011Chairman and Earle Enterprises LP Managing Partner (McDonald’s multi-unit franchisee) Jack Earle, IFA Senior Dir. of Political Affairs, Grassroots Advocacy & Multi-Unit Franchisee Engagement and Coliseum Enterprises CEO Michael Stone.

From left, former Mayor of Trenton, N.J. Doug Palmer, IFA Senior Vice Pres., Government Relations & Public Policy Judith Thorman, IFA Pres. & CEO Steve Caldeira, NFL Vice Pres. of Player Engagement Troy Vincent, IFA 2011Chairman and Earle Enterprises LP Managing Partner (McDonald’s multi-unit franchisee) Jack Earle, IFA Senior Dir. of Political Affairs, Grassroots Advocacy & Multi-Unit Franchisee Engagement and Coliseum Enterprises CEO Michael Stone.

Many of franchising’s most iconic brands (and IFA members), such as Papa John’s and McDonald’s, among others, are already official partners of the NFL. ⎯

Erica Fitzsimmons is senior director of political affairs, grassroots advocacy & multi-unit franchisee engagement for the International Franchise Association. She can be reached at 202-662-0760 or efitzsimmons@franchise.org.

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