IFA Addresses Threats to the Franchise Model at MUFSO

On Oct. 7, the 55th annual Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators Conference, better known as MUFSO, concluded in Dallas. MUFSO is the most comprehensive executive conference in the restaurant industry and IFA sponsored a session titled, “Franchising Under Attack: Get Informed & Learn How to Take Action!”

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The session provided an overview from industry leaders and legal perspectives on all the franchise legislative and policy issues facing the industry. It also explained how to get involved through the recently launched IFA Franchise Action Network (FAN).

Panelists included Patrick Doyle, president & CEO, Domino’s Pizza Inc.; Aziz Hashim, president/CEO, NRD Holdings, CEO/chairman, Impact Investments; Michael Lotito, co-chair and shareholder, Littler’s Workplace Policy Institute; Steve  Romaniello,  CFE, managing director, Roark Capital; and Matt Haller, senior vice president, media relations & public affairs, IFA, who served as moderator.

The session got underway with Hashim, Doyle and Romaniello echoing points on the state of the industry under attack. Hashim noted he has “never seen this kind of wave,” regarding the industry threats with Romaniello adding, “Make no mistake, the industry is under attack and it is broader and deeper than most people think.” Doyle was hopeful “that rational people will make rational decisions, but a lot is at risk right now for the industry that could impact millions of business owners and jobs.”

Haller guided the conversation next to last week’s veto by Governor Jerry Brown of harmful franchise relationship legislation in California. The veto of SB 610 represented a true victory for franchise small business owners and employees throughout the state, the culmination of a two-year strategic campaign by IFA and California FANs.  “The reason people choose to be franchisees are brand promise and operations, franchising success rate is higher.  Legislation like this would weaken brand consistency which would lead to more failures,” Doyle commented.

Hashim added that SB 610 would have been, “government interfering in business contracts and have unintended consequences,” noting that, “special interest is at play trying to cause a rift between franchisees and franchisors.” Romaniello spoke to the energy surrounding the IFA opposition campaign:  “we have made a greater effort to engage franchisees, there are more common interests than ever before, and also a common enemy,” and continuing that “the Franchise Action Network is a tool to engage on a more granular and local level, as state and local issues are now a focus to be pro-active on, and California is a great example.” Lotito gave the opposition perspective on what SEIU is spending on this fight, how well its messaging is organized and the real challenge in this debate.

The next issue of discussion was the National Labor Relations Board recent ruling on joint employer. Lotito walked the group through the full impact of the proposed joint employer standard and what it means for the industry. Hashim noted that the ruling “profoundly changes the franchise model. Worst case, everything becomes corporate-only stores, which threatens the basic foundation of franchising. Franchisees are independent entities that hire, fire, promote and set wages.”

The panel closed with a call to action from all the panelists that there is no choice but working together to protect the industry and engaging lawmakers with the franchise business community.

For more information about the Franchise Action Network or to sign up, please visit www.FranchiseActionNetwork.com.

For any questions or inquiries, please contact Erica Farage at 202-662-0760 or efarage@franchise.org.