The second panel discussion of the day took an in-depth look at the most effective ways for franchisers to communicate with their respective members of Congress. Moderated by Anna Palmer from Politico, Kim Jaworski of Congressman John Larson’s office, Brendan Belair of Congressman John Carter’s office, and Bo Bryant from McDonald’s all shared their personal experiences with constituent issues and how they felt members of the IFA would have the most success in communicating their needs to their elected officials.
They elaborated on several ways to do so, but their message came down to five basic points.
- Be direct with what you are asking for. There is no sense is beating around the bush because the only thing that results from indirectness is miscommunication and wasted time for both parties.
- Take advantage of every opportunity to share your concerns and goals. The amount of constituent mail that Congressional offices receive is staggering. Make sure to keep focused on maintaining contact so that you are remembered and stand out among the masses.
- Regardless of how the meeting goes, always be sure to follow up with them. This establishes good report with the people in the office and helps establish a good relationship, which can only benefit you down the road.
- Do not assume that the Congressperson or staff member you are meeting with understands your business. Take time to ensure that everyone involved is educated on the issue so that the conversation that results can yield the most productive results.
- Instead of continually asking for things that you want, come to the table with ways that you can be a resource to them as well. It always helps to let them know that you are not looking for a take-and-take relationship, but a give-and-take.
When contacting your elected officials about issues that are of concern to you and your business, always remember that you want to make a lasting impression. The more time you are willing to spend fostering a relationship with the Congressperson and his/her staff, the more willing they will be to address your issues in a timely and effective manner. Once they are educated on the issues facing franchisers, they will understand how much they benefit the economy and use this knowledge to make a strong push for pro-small business reform.