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The International Franchise Association – Your Voice Matters

The franchise industry faces a number of important regulatory issues at both the state and federal levels. Several franchise relationship bills have appeared in state legislatures across the nation and Congress is debating changes to the minimum wage, the Affordable Care Act and tax policy, among other issues. As we move into this year’s busy legislative season, it’s important to ensure that our elected political representatives and other government officials are able to benefit from your perspective on these important issues. Although the IFA advocates for pro-growth policies year-round, legislators are very interested in hearing from our members, whose personal experiences and insight make them the ultimate authority on the challenges facing the industry.

IFA’s State Government Relations & Public Policy team operates a number of grassroots outreach programs, specifically designed to utilize the extensive expertise of our membership in its advocacy efforts. Using action alerts, letter campaigns, press interviews, organized fly-ins and legislative days, IFA attempts to facilitate direct member advocacy to legislators whenever possible.

These efforts are working. Last August, IFA members and staff flew in to Sacramento to voice their concerns with California Senate Bill 610, a franchise relationship bill that would have been very harmful to the well-proven franchise model. The bill had previously received strong support from the Committee on Businesses, Professions and Consumer Protection, where it had been referred. However, after a series of high-profile meetings and educational sessions with legislators, led by IFA, the bill’s sponsor chose to pull the legislation rather than see it voted down in committee by leaders from both parties.

Similar efforts are under way in Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, which are facing nearly identical franchise relationship bills. Prominent IFA members, including representatives from McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Brands, Marriott, Choice Hotels, Ground Round and Coffee News, are making their case directly to legislators in Maine, providing evidence and context to support the industry’s position. IFA is currently organizing a similar coalition of business leaders in New Hampshire, supported by members Valpak, Planet Fitness, Marriott, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Brands and others. Our supplier community is also a critically important aspect of IFA’s legislative and grassroots engagement. Supplier firms such as MSA Worldwide, DLA Piper, Nixon Peabody and BoeFly have helped IFA’s lobbyists and grassroots professionals identify additional advocates from their client base who would be negatively impacted by these bills. Grassroots engagement not only provides lawmakers with the information they need to make the best decisions, but also demonstrates that the franchise community is united against these harmful bills.

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

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

Aside from reactive opposition to franchise relationship bills around the country, IFA is working pro-actively to ensure that lawmakers and other public officials are aware of the benefits franchising offers communities and the economy as a whole. IFA’s second annual California Franchise Day was held on March 4, 2014. The event featured face-to-face meetings with legislators, coordination with industry partners and other events to increase the visibility of the franchise industry, while simultaneously underscoring the economic impact our members have on the state’s economy.

Although the success of the franchise community and the hard work that franchise small-business owners put into their locations is readily apparent, many legislators are unfamiliar with both the franchise business model and the numerous initiatives spearheaded by the industry. These grassroots events give us a chance to dispel some of the myths concerning franchising, as well as showcase programs like the highly successful VetFran Strategic Initiative.

In its talented and committed membership base, IFA has one of the greatest resources an association could hope for. Given this fact, I strongly and respectfully urge you to participate in IFA’s grassroots efforts going forward. In closing, I want to express my thanks to the IFA members who have already been generous enough to lend the industry their time and experience to preserve the time-tested model of franchising.

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