Understanding the Value of IFA Membership
The more our members are active and engaged in IFA events, the more we will all benefit.
The vast majority of people reading this article are current International Franchise Association members. Many of you have been members for years or even decades. If you were asked why you value your IFA membership, you might reference the educational events, IFA’s government relations activities, the annual convention or a host of other reasons.
Like any trade or industry association, IFA’s members come from different backgrounds, operate diverse types of businesses and have varying goals as business owners or employees. IFA is a place where people interact, exchange ideas, learn from one another and hopefully benefit their business and franchise system as a result of their shared experiences.
It’s a Community
In a way, IFA is like a franchise system. It’s a community. A franchise system is strongest if most of the franchisees are engaged, participate in system events, have a passion for helping others and benefit from the shared best practices that exist within the system. Likewise, IFA offers its members many of the same benefits, provided the members are engaged and take advantage of the opportunities that membership brings.
It’s Knowledge and Resources
For anyone new to franchising, IFA is a wealth of knowledge and resources. New franchisors with no prior franchise experience may be an expert in their field, have grown other companies in the past or have the best business model in their industry. But if they don’t understand and embrace what makes a good franchisor, they have a much higher risk of failure. Many new franchisors don’t fully understand that franchising is much more than a new business strategy. It’s a new business. And like any new business, success can only be achieved if the company learns and implements many of the best practices that others have already employed. Without being tapped into the resources that IFA offers, a new franchisor will make many costly mistakes.
It’s About Partnership
For suppliers, IFA membership is also vital. Today, there are many more supplier options available to franchisors than there were only 10 or 15 years ago. The growing number of external vendors in areas such as technology, real estate support, geographic information systems or construction can allow younger franchisors to access tremendous talent and established systems at a fraction of what it would cost them to fully staff internal departments. And they can grow their capabilities for supporting franchisees much quicker by using many of these vendors. For the vendors to make themselves known to the franchisor community, they must become members of IFA, participate in IFA events and learn the basics of franchising that will enable them to be more effective partners to franchisors and franchisees.
To best promote the IFA, it’s important that its members are willing to take time and share their experiences with franchisors or suppliers that are not currently IFA members, or with companies that have recently joined IFA, but have not yet fully engaged with the association. Several years ago, IFA launched its Franship initiative. Franship was designed as a mentoring resource for franchisor, franchisee and supplier members of IFA. However, the program is still in the early stages of being expanded. I encourage all IFA members to participate in programs like Franship and to seek out opportunities to share our experiences with those who are newer to franchising or IFA. The more our members are active and engaged in IFA events, the more we will all benefit.
Dave Hood is president of The iFranchise Group, Inc., a consulting firm based in Homewood, Ill. He can be reached at 708-249-1056 or email@example.com.
Learn about IFA programs by visiting www.franchise.org.