How You Can Help Oklahoma

As we continue to learn more about the impact the tornadoes in Oklahoma have had on families, homes and businesses, there are many ways the franchise industry can offer support to those most affected.  The American Red Cross is already on the ground providing shelter and hot meals to those in Moore, Oklahoma and surrounding areas and there are various outlets for people to give their time or contribute to the recovery process that is already taking place.

 How to help the community:

  • Red Cross of Central Oklahoma is asking people to donate by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to give a $10 dollar donation that will automatically be applied to your next phone bill.  The donation will go to those directly affected by the storms.
  • The Salvation Army Arkansas-Oklahoma Division has dispatched disaster response teams throughout the area and donations can be made through the following ways.
    • The Salvation Army Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK 73157. Designate Oklahoma Tornado Relief on all checks.
    • Donate by phone:  (800) 725-2769
    • Donate online:

Express Employment Professionals has created The Expressions of Hope Relief Program, which is managed by the Communities Foundation of Oklahoma, to provide financial assistance to Express employees in times of need or emergencies like this.  If you would like to donate to the Expressions of Hope Relief Program, please see below for one of two ways:

    • Mail Checks
      Payable to: Communities Foundation of Oklahoma
      2932 NW 122nd Street Suite D
      Oklahoma City, OK 73120
      (877) 689-7726
      In the memo line include: Expressions of Hope
    • Donate Online
      You can donate to the fund online by visiting From the drop down menu, be sure to select the “Expressions of Hope Relief Program Fund” for the fund name.

If there is anything IFA can do for all affected by the storms, please let us know as we continue to keep everyone in Oklahoma in our hearts.


On Memorial Day, Wounded Warrior Shilo Harris, moving on with his life successfully through franchising





Retired Staff Sergeant Shilo Harris is no stranger to the IFA, having spoken at IFA’s Public Affairs Conference in 2011 and featured as a personality at the 2012 IFA Convention. He’s a Wounded Warrior, veteran of the U.S. Army, motivational speaker and now, WIN Home Inspection’s newest Strategic-Partner. Working alongside his son and wife in San Antonio, Harris has embarked on his recent role as a franchise business owner and has not looked back.

While serving in Iraq in 2007, his patrol vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device (I.E.D). Harris was in a coma for 48 days, had third-degree burns on 35% of his body, lost his ears, the tip of his nose and three fingers, and has since undergone roughly 50 surgeries. Harris recognizes that everything that happened while serving has helped him to become who he is today.

As a 2012 recipient of WIN’s “WIN for America” program, Harris’ franchise fee was waived as WIN worked hand in hand to ensure the success of Harris in terms of securing financing and facilitating training. WIN committed $1.2 million dollars to honor veterans through the “WIN for America” program and are honored to add Harris to their roster, in which 25% of the company is comprised of veterans.

“At WIN, we believe in leveraging the training and skills veterans are taught in combat, to achieve civilian world accomplishments,” says Steve Wadlington, President of WIN Home Inspection. “Shilo regards core values, commitment, and teamwork, thus making him ideally positioned for success within our system.”

Harris is quick to say that family comes first and is thrilled to be in business with his son as his partner, and his wife as his marketing hand. “Through WIN, I’m able to provide for my family, alongside my family,” says Harris. “I’ve been given an opportunity to move forward in life and while my new role as business owner is the next step in my journey, I will never stop advocating for other veterans and Wounded Warriors to let them know there are options beyond service and combat.”

U.S. Franchise Trade Mission makes final stop in Qatar



By Scott Lehr, CFE, Senior Vice President, U.S. & International Development, International Franchise Association

We had arrived at our final destination of the U.S. Franchise Trade Mission to the Middle East – Doha, Qatar.  Ten days of planes, hotels, meetings, mall tours and hauling luggage but most importantly many, new relationships with prospective master franchisees, stronger connections with our Commercial Service friends and lasting memories with members and peers from the franchise delegation.

The group of Greenberry’s, Pollo Tropical, Tutor Doctor and Wing Zone pushed forward into Qatar. Hertz Rental joined for the morning sessions our first day in Doha but were heading out that afternoon.

The U.S. Commercial Service staff, Robert Dunn, Senior Commercial Officer, Mahmound Skhiri, Senior Commercial Specialist and Anissa Lahreche, Commercial Specialist met us at the airport and got us to the hotel to rest up for a packed day at the hotel filled with briefings and one-one meetings.  In the morning we were joined by Natalia Hernandez, Commercial Assistant and Golda Agnazata.

Michael Palmer from Patton Boggs led off the morning sessions with a legal update and “Doing Business in Qatar” briefing. Palmer confirmed that there is no specific franchise law in Qatar, only the need to register the Franchise trademark. He stressed that franchisors need to be in control of the trademarks, licenses and ownership of materials in the country. As in some other countries in the Middle East, he cautioned that the Franchise Agreement is sometimes registered as an exclusive agency which is not recommended and described the preferred practice which is a franchise licensing arrangement.

While discussing some of the challenges of the market, it was agreed that franchisors will have to deal with supply chain and approved supplier issues since many items especially for food franchisors will need to be imported.

The group then had the opportunity to hear from local franchisees that have been operating in the market for a number of years.  Mr. Vijay Arora, Operations Manager with Chili’s – Qatar, part of International Food Concepts Company has been operating in Qatar for 12 years and sees strong potential for growth as long as the population growth keeps up with the building in the area.  Mohamed Ekram, Brand Operations Manager of Popeyes which is also part of the International Food Concept Company is currently operating five Popeye’s in the area and has plans to develop up to 16 in the next few years.  He cautioned the franchisors to look for strong food experienced partners or face lots of problems in getting their concepts opened and operating.  He said that “kid friendly” and play area locations will drive sales and build loyal followings.

Finally Camille Aoun of the Al Jassim Group which operates Burger King Restaurants, Quiznos Sub Shops and other brands including hotels advised the franchise delegation to be cautious to find the right partner that is interested in operating profitable food businesses instead of locating a partner that invests in franchised businesses to have them in their portfolio as a badge of honor and prestige that may never open a significant number of locations.  He cautioned the group that they need to look for partners that can be in the market for the long term due to the growth of the retail real estate market that is outpacing the population growth creating more space than demand for product.

The final speaker before lunch was Garrett Grennan with Ernst & Young who talked with the group about tax implications for franchisors with operations in Qatar. He reported that franchise royalty is subject to withholding tax of 5 percent and that corporate income tax is 10 percent.  He also mentioned that although basic food products are not subject to customs tariff, processed foods are subject to a 5 percent tariff so franchisors need to work these figures into their calculations for the market.

The Commercial Service team had arranged for a press event that included more than a dozen media in Doha including The Peninsula, Qatar Tribune, Qatar News Agency, Doha News, Arabian Business and Qatar Today.  Members of the press fired questions at the delegation and everyone shared their stories on looking for partners for their brands in Qatar.

Lunch was hosted that afternoon by the American Chamber of Commerce of Qatar and represented by Robert Hager, Founding Chairman and Theresa Backus Dunn, Executive Director.

Once again, the group rolled into a full afternoon and evening of one-one meetings that had been previously set and prequalified by the Commercial Service staff in Doha making for a full and productive day.

Day two in Doha began with a retail tour of a number of malls in Doha and massive new community projects.  The delegation enjoyed a great breakfast at the new Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop in Ezdan Mall followed by a tour of the mall which included a number of American brands open or in the process of being built including KFC, Papa Johns, Fuddruckers, Pinkberry, Robecks, Subway and Johnny Rockets.

The group also toured two mixed use communities, Katara and The Pearl, a community 20 kilometers north of downtown Doha. The Pearl Qatar is a mixed-use development which includes beachfront villas, town homes, luxury apartments, penthouses, five-star hotels, marinas, and upscale retail and restaurants all situated on a man-made island encompassing 985 acres.  This project complete with all the top high end brands including Ferrari, Maserati and Rolls Royce dealers and retail brands to match will certainly be on the list of places to visit while in Qatar.

The last official function of the U.S. Franchise Trade Mission to the Middle East ended with a lunch at the St. Regis looking out at the Pearl-Qatar.  The lunch was hosted by the U.S. Ambassador of Qatar, Susan Ziadeh and the Qatari Businessmen Association and represented by Hussain Ebrhim Alfardan, Deputy Chairman of the Board who is also Chairman of the Alfardan Group, which has businesses in jewelry, real estate and the automotive areas.  Also in attendance was Hamad Bin Faisal Bin Thani Al Thani, Chairman of Al Khaliji one of Qatar’s leading banks.

As the trade mission participants said their goodbye’s after 11 days together, everyone was optimistic that they would be back soon hopefully to sign deals in a number of the countries they had visited over the past week and a half.

VetFran Committee Chair Joe Lindenmayer Joins SBA Administrator Mills to Announce Veteran Lending Initiative

Ft. Bragg

The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Tuesday the Veteran Pledge Initiative.   The initiative is a commitment by top SBA national, regional and community lenders to collectively increase their lending activity to veterans by five percent per year for the next five years.  VetFran Committee Chair Joe Lindenmayer of TSS Photography and VetFran Committee member Rich Bradshaw of TD Bank joined the SBA’s Administrator Karen Mills and representatives of the SBA lending community, the U.S. Army, and transitioning service members interested  in small business ownership at Ft. Bragg. VetFran was invited to speak on behalf of existing and prospective veteran franchise owners as well as franchisors eager to add veterans to their systems.

In his remarks during the announcement, Joe Lindenmayer expressed “Today, VetFran boasts a record 579 franchise companies offering financial incentives, training and mentoring to veterans interested in franchise ownership and there are no shortage of veterans interested in franchising, with the VetFran Directory receiving over 44,000 hits a month.  Where the equation all too often breaks down is access to credit.  The goal of this initiative is to close the lending gap, a problem which is preventing many otherwise worthy veterans from becoming franchisees and leaders in the civilian economy.”

With the support of SBA’s top 20 national lending partners, and approximately 100 additional regional and community lending partners across the United States, SBA expects to assist an additional 2,000 veterans obtain loans to start or expand small businesses by increasing lending by $475 million over the next five years. This equals a five percent increase above historic veteran lending activity by the SBA.

“Our service men and women have made incalculable contributions and sacrifices for our country, and supporting them as they pursue their dreams to start or grow their own business is one of SBA’s highest priorities”said SBA Administrator Karen Mills, a consistent VetFran supporter.  “Through this partnership with national lending partners and regional and community lenders across the U.S., we stand ready to serve veteran entrepreneurs with loan-guarantees, entrepreneurial training, and resources that are critical tools to help them start businesses, drive the local economy and create jobs for themselves and their communities.”

JoeL Ft.. Bragg


Joe Lindenmayer with past Chairman of the National Association of Development Companies (NADCO) Chairman Scott Davis, President & CEO of Mountain West Small Business Finance and Charlie Cleary of Self-Help Ventures, a leading Certified Development Company (CDC) based in Durham, NC.   The nation’s CDCs delivered 10% of their $6 billion in loans to veterans in 2012 and pledged to increase that volume 5% per year for the next five years.

The initiative complements IFA’s access to credit campaign including Small Business Lending Summits in 2011 and 2012.  Rich Bradshaw, the head of SBA lending at TD Bank, said franchises are an especially popular choice for veterans and that most of the franchise loans TD expects to make as part of the initiative will be under $150,000.  Veterans have a proven track record in franchising, with one in seven U.S. franchise businesses being veteran-owned. Lindenmayer said “As a franchisor, Chair of the VetFran Committee and most of all as a proud Marine veteran, I commend the SBA, and its lending partners for stepping in to fill this void and provide essential financing”.


Six Franchise Execs Return for “Uncover Boss” Finale as Epic Bosses

Three years, 60 CEOs and several Emmy awards later, CBS’ “Undercover Boss” highlighted 10 CEOs on May 17 whose lives were most affected by their appearance on the popular reality series, including six IFA franchise member executives. Despite challenges and unforeseen twists during their undercover episodes, these franchise executives used the experience to implement business-building programs and some personal life changes.  Here are some highlights from the show by order of appearance.

brooks_franblogFormer Hooter’s of America CEO Coby Brooks, who is now a Twin Peaks operator, called the experience positive.  Despite a controversial bean-eating contest overseen by a Hooter’s manager, Brooks said of the show, “morale was actually heightened and everyone felt more of a sense of family.” Brooks said he’d do it again and would recommend appearing on the show “with or without the cameras.”

katcole_franblogAnother Hooter’s alumna and youngest boss to be featured on the program was Kat Cole, president of Cinnabon International Inc. Cole’s episode featured a go-getter employee named Mayra Vargas, who since the program aired, was invited to corporate headquarters for training to see what is possible for her, which could include becoming a CEO.

The show also captured how CEOs reached out to help their employees.  Since “Undercover Boss” first aired, more than $5 million has been distributed to reward employees.

Cole said one of the best things was the show “helped remind me how important it is to give back at every opportunity.” Cinnabon supported and facilitated a nationwide fundraiser on learning that Vargas’ mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Cinnabon will match the first $10,000 in charitable donations.

fertman_franblogSubway Chief Development Officer Don Fertman learned during his appearance that “this is a great opportunity to hear from our sandwich artists” after hearing suggestions from an employee named Jesse who thought she’d never get the ear of someone at headquarters.  Upon receiving a suggestion from their sandwich artists, Subway puts it through a market test through the research and development department.

But it was the personal journey that might have most affected Fertman, who during the initial show revealed that he was a 27-year recovered alcoholic. His earlier appearance on “Undercover Boss” led him to connect and encourage via email with a viewer named Harold who was struggling after two weeks of recovery. The two met during filming for the May 17 “Epic Bosses” segment where viewers learned Harold had been sober two years.  “We’ve got to give each other hope,” said Fertman.

View additional IFA members BELFOR CEO Sheldon Yellen, The Dwyer Group Chairwoman and CEO Dina Dwyer-Owens, CFE, and Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc. President and CEO Rick Silva here.

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