IFA attends both RNC and DNC Conventions to highlight the role franchising plays in the economy



As Governor Romney mentioned last week in Tampa, this country needs jobs, jobs, jobs…and lots of them. Fortunately, we have lots of jobs in franchising—nearly 18 million to be exact. As IFA attended both RNC and DNC Conventions in Tampa and Charlotte the past two weeks, we hosted events to highlight the role franchising plays in the economy, speaking with members of the media and mingling with lawmakers and candidates to discuss IFA’s Franchise Jobs agenda.

Below is a photo gallery of some of those activities and links to some of the media placements the industry has received due to its presence in Tampa and Charlotte.

U.S. Franchising Blooms in Bogota



Bogota, the stylish capital of this stunning Latin American country, is perched 8,000 feet above sea level, at a much greater elevation than mile-high Denver or the highest peak in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro. According to reports from the U.S. Franchise Trade Mission to Latin America, Bogota’s altitude may hint at the heights U.S. franchising can reach in this booming country of more than 46 million.

RadioShack made national news during the trade mission co-hosted by the International Franchise Association, the U.S. Commercial Service, and Franchise Times in late August with a ribbon-cutting at its first store in Colombia. It didn’t hurt that the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy here, Perry Holloway, wore the RadioShack uniform as a store employee early in his career and continues to be a fan. “Can we look around the store?” he asked, waving off reporters and other officials during the visit as his eyes crawled over walls of gadgets and electronic gear.

RadioShack, now operating in 31 countries with development underway in a total of 40, has ambitious plans, including being the world’s number-one battery retailer.

“Wherever a battery is sold, we’d like it to be a RadioShack battery,” said Marty Amschler, Vice President of Global Franchise for the company. “Batteries are universal, like many of our products,” Amschler adds. He and his partner Benjamin Simon, Senior Director of International Development, have spearheaded global development for the electronics powerhouse, establishing a significant footprint and revenue streams at a feverish pace. But, please, don’t call either one an Energizer bunny.

The trade mission got an extra charge from Nicole DeSilvis, Commercial Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, whose thousand-watt smile led the 25 brands, all IFA members, into the tony El Nogal Country Club – 12 stories of luxurious meeting rooms, restaurants, an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool, world-class fitness facilities and an art gallery.

Ambassador Michael McKinley, juggling calls from his cel phone as reports of renewed peace talks with the rebel group FARC presented a possible breakthrough on a long-running challenge in the country, pivoted from the political to endorse the franchise trade mission. “There is a revolution in retail in Colombia,” he said. “You will find business partners who are willing and able, and you will continue to have our full support.”

Despite challenges like security and lingering poverty, Colombia is the fourth-largest oil producer and the number-one coffee producer in Latin America, with an economy that expanded by 7.7 percent in the third quarter of 2011, projecting growth of nearly six percent this year.

In the El Nogal Club, the fruits of the expanding economy could be seen, with Hermès ties almost standard and a suit-and-tie-only dress code reflecting Colombia’s formal business culture.

Bogota was a big hit for FOCUS Brands, whose Latin America development will now be spearheaded by Keith Carleton, Director of International Business Development. Scott Chorna continues in a similar role focused on Asia, the Middle East and Africa. “We’ve been pleasantly surprised not only by the number of appointments but the quality of the prospects,” Carleton said.

Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s are already established on the continent, as they are around the world. The pretzel “is a blank canvas,” Carleton says, “so regionally, you can adapt it with sugar, “dulce de leche,” (caramel in Spanish) and other local flavors. In Asia, he says, a dried seaweed topping is sometimes used in place of salt.

“We need to protect the heritage and consistency of the brand, but we recognize that customers may prefer other flavors and other sizes, and we encourage that,” Carleton said.

Whereas Moe’s Southwest Grill is a more complicated concept with larger start-up costs, Carleton points out a similar Latin American concept call Tommy Beans that is fairly well established. The competition doesn’t worry him. “We can point out that our quality and our brand representation are superior,” he said.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen’s Tim Waddell feels similarly about a local brand offering fried chicken in Colombia. “We think Frisby really needs some competition,” Waddell said, referring to a chain with 100 restaurants in 24 Colombian cities.

The Commercial Attaché agreed. “No question about it,” said DeSilvis, a cheerleader for U.S. franchising in Colombia, who just extended  her tour of duty in the country.

The hunger for U.S. food brands is so strong that Hair Parra of WingZone signed a master franchise agreement for the country before the trade mission ever touched down in Bogota. Investors contacted Parra, an owner of the company, after reading about the trade mission and calling U.S. Embassy officials.

“The groups we’ve seen have been very good,” Parra said. He estimated that 90 percent of the candidates interviewed in Colombia were qualified.

“We are so pleased with the overall resounding success of the franchise trade mission as the key objectives were met,” said DeSilvis. “The excitement in U.S. franchising that this mission has stirred has been exceptional and we look forward to riding this wave as far as it will take us.  Franchising is on the tip of everyone’s tongues right now and the U.S. Commercial Service, IFA and Franchise Times are proud to have spurred this flurry of interest in the South American market.”

Download IFA’s Franchising Votes Mobile App today!



Just in time for the IFA 2012 Public Affairs conference we are pleased to announce our new mobile app called “Franchising Votes”. It’s currently available in both the iTunes App Store and the Google Android Marketplace.

Watch a short video demonstrating the app:

This app allow you to:

  • See the schedule of events for the conference,
  • Review talking points for your visits with legislators
  • Watch our videos
  • Browse Congressional directories, and
  • Submit feedback from your meetings on Capitol Hill

What’s really great about this app is that you can connect to your own social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and share the good work you are doing in Washington with your friends and followers back home. Using Franchising Votes you can:

  • Send tweets and status updates
  • Upload photos and videos, and
  • Check-in at our events.

All of these activities will be tagged with our social media hashtag #FranchiseJobs, which will amplify our activities in DC back in your hometowns and Congressional Districts.

Please take a minute and download the free app today. Just search for “Franchising Votes” in the app store. Thanks for all that you do to support the International Franchising Association.

Thank you to our mobile app sponsor MSA Worldwide.

Like father like son: IFA’s Annual Convention introduces the next generation to franchising



Finding a job can be a big challenge for recent college graduates, 53.6% of American bachelor’s degree holders under the age of twenty-five were jobless or underemployed last year according to a recent Associated Press report. Rather than wait for the economy to recover, some families are taking charge of the situation by helping their young grads start careers as franchisees.

Recent college graduate Mike Neumayr and his father Ed attended the International Franchise Association’s Annual Convention in February and happened to meet Nick Friedman, co-owner of College Hunks Hauling Junk.  While learning more about the company, Ed and Mike realized learned about an opportunity to take over a franchise location in Tempe, Arizona.  A moving company that focuses on teamwork and customer service sounded like a perfect business opportunity for Mike.

Father Ed is not new to franchising — he owns a Great Clips franchise in Ahwatukee Foothills, Arizona– so he knows that “finding the right franchise that matches your skills is important for success.”  After conducting his own research about the company, Ed decided to purchase the Tempe location with the plan to pass the store on to his son after Mike worked in the business for a while.

The Neumayrs took over the franchise earlier this month and already have bigger plans for the future.  They’d like to launch an internship program, teaching college student’s business skills before they graduate.

College Hunks Hauling Junk started with college buddies in Florida moving and hauling junk for people in the neighborhood.  Today it’s a national company and one of the largest employers of college students across the country, as well as being a leader in IFA’s VetFran Operation Enduring Opportunity campaign.

To register for IFA’s 2013 Convention and create your own franchise opportunities please click here!

Hot, hot, hot: Franchising in Panama



It may be 90 degrees in the shade, but the real sizzle in this gateway to Latin America is the business climate, where the U.S. Franchise Trade Mission co-hosted by IFA, the U.S. Commercial Service and Franchise Times kicked off a five-day marathon of deal-making and media events with 25 American brands traveling to Panama, Colombia and Chile.

Panama City is a future Miami or Hong Kong, where skyscrapers shoot up as densely as grass in a thick carpet of banks and international hotels.  It has a “dollarized economy” (no need to change money), a sophisticated financial sector (Citibank just celebrated 100 years here) and an appetite for U.S. brands.

To call it “Little America” is a stretch, but with U.S.-style electrical outlets, a population that visits the United States often, and a foundation of franchising, trade mission participants report that the country is a golden opportunity for unrepresented franchise brands.

“We met with people who have fundamental knowledge of the value of franchising and have seen the success of U.S. franchises in this market and are very interested in these opportunities,” said Scott Chorna, director of new international business development for FOCUS Brands, reporting on the first day of deal-making.  “It’s a sophisticated, pro-American, developed market, but still ripe with opportunity.”

Cinnabon, a FOCUS Brand, has 11 stores in the country through a 10-year-old franchise agreement. Early next year, Chorna says, the group will open the first Auntie Anne’s.  Moe’s Southwest Grill and Schlotzky’s, also FOCUS Brands, are not far behind.

Panama’s unique position as a logistics and transportation hub between North and South America and the Pacific and Atlantic oceans make the country even more attractive.  An expanded Panama Canal is set to open next year, just when a new U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement is set to take effect, dropping tariffs and other barriers to bilateral trade.

“It will make U.S. imports 15 percent cheaper,” notes Fred LeFranc, CEO and founder of Results Thru Strategy, who is advising specialty sandwich brand Which Wich on its international expansion.  “That will fuel franchise development.”

The U.S.-Panama relationship is very warm, and it doesn’t hurt that Panama is a huge importer of U.S. goods.  For every dollar of U.S. imports of Panamanian goods, Panama imports $20 of U.S. products and services.  The economy of this nation of 3.5 million is expected to grow at a hot 6 percent annually over the next several years.

Rogelio Martinez, vice president of international franchise development for Tutor Doctor was impressed with the potential master developers he met.

“The candidates were well qualified,” he said.  “This is the event with the most high-quality candidates I’ve ever seen.”

According to Tutor Doctor and most of the trade mission companies, the U.S. Commercial Service team led by Kristin Houston, Senior International Trade Specialist and Enrique Tellez, Senior Commercial Specialist who did the matchmaking in Panama can go to the head of the class.

The brands represented on the mission are:

• BrightStar Care
• FOCUS Brands – Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Schlotzsky’s®, Moe’s Southwest Grill®, Auntie Anne’s® Pretzels, and the franchisor of Seattle’s Best Coffee®
• Fuddruckers
• Global Franchise Group – The Athlete’s Foot: TAF®, as well as four quick service restaurant (QSR) franchise concepts: Great American Cookies®, Marble Slab Creamery®, Pretzelmaker® and Pretzel Time®
• HASB Global Franchise Finance Alliance – finance sponsor of the trade mission
• Hertz Equipment Rental
• Home Instead Senior Care
• Jani-King International
• McAlister’s Deli
• Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
• RadioShack
• Rita’s Italian Ice
• Round Table Pizza
• Sport Clips, Inc.
• The Melting Pot
• Tutor Doctor
• Which Wich
• Wing Zone


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