Franchisers, Lenders Huddle at Denver Lending Boot Camp

On Tuesday, the IFA, the Denver Franchise Business Network (FBN), Faegre Baker Daniels LLP and FRANdata hosted a Franchise Lending Boot Camp in Denver to educate franchise leaders and lenders on the ways to increase small business lending in the recovering economy.  According to the Small Business Lending Matrix & Analysis, Vol. 5, produced for IFA by FRANdata in April, lending to America’s franchise businesses will reach $23.9 billion in 2013, the highest level since the recession, yet will still fall short of demand.  Access to capital has remained an important issue for franchise owners throughout the recovery.

 

Stephen Olear, Chief Franchise Council in the Los Angeles office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), addressed attendees on ways the SBA is working to increase lending to small businesses in general and franchises specifically.  Because of the unique partnerships between franchisors and franchisees, and the stability the franchise model provides, franchise owners generally make good loan candidates.  Olear announced that a new pilot program has launched this year to pre-approve more franchises for SBA-guaranteed loans by making updates to SBA procedures and to the SBA Franchise Registry.  Edith Wiseman, Exec. VP of Client Solutions at FRANdata, spoke about the registry and its role in helping connect franchises and lenders.

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Steve Olear of the U.S. Small Business Administration addresses Franchise Lending Boot Camp participants in Denver.

A group of franchisors engaged in a panel discussion entitled: “How We Get Our Franchisees Financed.”  Panelists included Greg Esgar of Massage Envy, Rachel Williams of Mrs. Fields Famous Brands, and Reginald Heard of Focus Brands.  The franchise executives discussed strategies for making their franchisees more loan-ready, and their efforts to help franchisees secure financing during the depths of the recent recession.

 

Following the presentation from the franchisors, a group of lenders shared their insights on what makes great financing candidates, and how businesses can better prepare themselves to apply for financing.  Among the lending panelists were Julie Huston of U.S. Bank, Dave Otteson of BBVA Compass, and Ken Allen of Evolve Bank & Trust.

 

Attendees later gathered for a reception and dinner at the Denver Country Club, where participants mingled and shared what they learned.  Olear again addressed the group to review the progress that has been made in the past few years on increasing lending to small businesses, and applauded the collaboration of the franchise and banking industries in their hard work to improve the lending environment for all.

Franchisee to Congress: Employer Mandate Delay Does Not Alter Fundamental Problems with ACA

 

 

Yesterday, the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways & Means held a hearing to examine the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate.  Last Tuesday, the Administration announced that it would be delaying the implementation until 2015. In his opening remarks, Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) expressed the Subcommittee’s concern with the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate and the way the announcement was made by the Administration.  Chairman Brady also mentioned the consequences of the employer mandate for small businesses, saying that 3.2 million full-time jobs were at risk in the franchise industry alone.

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Sean Falk, an IFA member and multi-unit franchisee of Mrs. Fields Cookies, Great American Cookies, PretzelMaker and Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina, was among the witnesses to testify before the Subcommittee on behalf of IFA. In his prepared remarks, Mr. Falk emphasized the concerns he and the franchise community had with the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. He applauded the Administration for delaying the implementation of the employer mandate, but made it clear that “it does not solve the fundamental problems associated with the ACA and its impact on business operations and future job growth.” Click the thumbnail above to view a video of Mr. Falk’s testimony.

Mr. Falk testified that the mandate places a massive regulatory burden on his businesses and other franchise small businesses, stating that, “navigating the constant changes, waivers, extensions, regulations and clarifications of an already cumbersome law has diverted my focus from developing my business and creating new jobs.” Mr. Falk also noted that two specific changes to the employer mandate would go a long way to help franchise small business owners implement the law: increasing the 30-hour threshold that qualifies an employee as full-time to 40 hours a week; and increasing the 50 full-time equivalent employee threshold that requires employers to provide coverage to full-time employees.

Many of the Committee members commended Mr. Falk in his efforts to try and navigate the complexities of this law, like Congressmen Tom Price (R-GA) and Mike Kelly (R-PA). Chairman Brady concluded the hearing by thanking the witnesses and announcing a second hearing on the same subject. Next Wednesday, J. Mark Iwry, Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Retirement and Public Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury will testify at the Subcommittee’s second hearing to examine the employer mandate delay.

Later that day, IFA hosted a members-only webinar to further address the challenges franchise business owners face in implementing the employer mandate. After a brief update on advocacy from IFA’s Senior Vice President, Government Relations & Public Policy Judith Thorman, insurance industry veterans Andria Herr and Holly Wahl with IFA Supplier Member Hylant Group, an insurance brokerage with decades of experience working with the franchise industry, provided insight on the types of plans available to large and small employers alike.   Click here for a recording of the webinar.

Sean Falk appeared on CNBC to discuss how small business owners are concerned about the delay of the employer mandate:

The Hill: A delay in employer mandate is good, but more relief would be better

IFA continues to lobby to ensure that the ACA is implemented with minimal negative impact on small business owners

 

 

Recently, legislation was introduced in both the House and Senate that would change the definition of a full-time employee from an average of 30 hours per work to 40 hours per week.  Rep. Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the house version, H.R. 2575, and a companion bill, S. 1188, was introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN).

Under the ACA, employers must provide health insurance coverage to full-time employees and their dependents or face significant penalties.  The House bill, entitled the Save American Workers Act, was introduced with 113 co-sponsors including the Chairman of both the Ways & Means and Education & Workforce Committees.  IFA worked to draft the legislation with Rep. Young’s staff and secured a majority of the original co-sponsors for the introduction of H.R. 2575.  Passage of this legislation is a priority for IFA and we will continue to lobby and educate both sides of the aisle on the need for this change.

The Franchise Industry is Pleased with ACA Extension, But More Relief is Needed

 

 

The IFA is pleased with last week’s announcement by the Obama Administration to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer mandate and reporting requirements until 2015, but urges more relief for small businesses.

Before and after the law passed, the IFA has been relentless in meeting with key officials at the SBA, including administrator Karen Mills, the White House, including Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement Valerie Jarrett, former domestic policy advisor Melody Barnes and the current advisor Cecilia Muñoz, former senior treasury advisor Gene Sperling, who is now the director of the National Economic Council, former healthcare advisor Nancy-Ann DeParle, as well as, Jeanne Lambrew, deputy director of the new White House Office of Health Reform, Mark Iwry Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury and Deputy Assistant Secretary (Tax Policy) for Retirement and Health Policy and Sol Ross, Director of Business Outreach at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Administration announced that the delay has two goals: to allow regulators to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law and to provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees.  The IFA will carefully review the changes and offer additional recommendations to improve the law and will not let up on our efforts to change the definition of a full-time employee from 30 to 40 hours.

See below for media hits on IFA’s statement regarding last week’s delay:

  • Politico: “We are glad the administration listened to the concerns of businesses. Our members need more time to figure out how the law applies to them — and to get ready for it. We don’t want to forget there are significant changes needed in the law, so long term we are still going to pursue those.” IFA’s SVP Government Relations & Public Policy, Judith Thorman
  • National Journal: We applaud the administration for responding to our repeated requests to provide relief from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. This will relieve the onerous and costly burdens of the ACA for one year, and allow the administration to reexamine its implications for small businesses.” – IFA President and CEO, Steve Caldeira
  • Washington Post: “We need to make sure that we don’t forget that this is still a problem. There is still the definition of [what constitutes] a full-time employee that we’re going to try and pursue. That’s a significant issue for us.”IFA’s SVP Government Relations & Public Policy, Judith Thorman
  • The Hill: “We definitely did not expect this; there was a lot of pressure. The law goes into effect in January, and all the regs aren’t out. Employers and employees were confused.”IFA’s SVP Government Relations & Public Policy, Judith Thorman
  • Politico: “Honestly, it was a surprise that it came this quickly. We certainly felt like we were making headway, but we didn’t get any hints until yesterday.”IFA’s VP Public Affairs and Chief of Staff to the CEO, Matt Haller

 

Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation Quick to React to Arizona First Responders

 

 

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As the wildfires in Yarnell Arizona continue to burn out of control, making it the deadliest wild land fire since 1933, 200 more firefighters arrived this week to help battle the blaze which was ignited by lightening.  Monday, the wind-driven wildfire claimed the lives of 19 elite firefighters of the Prescott Fire Department’s Granite Mountain Hotshots, making it the deadliest day for firefighters since the 9/11 attacks.  As makeshift memorials of flowers and American flags formed around the small mountain town, companies and near-by communities along with the American Red Cross wasted no time in answering the call to help those affected most.

IFA member Firehouse Subs through their Public Safety Foundation has already hit the ground from their Arizona restaurants, feeding first responders, volunteers and evacuees with their subs.  The Foundation will give 200 subs per day for the next week to the American Red Cross for distribution, while also providing fire, police and EMS departments the opportunity to request life-saving equipment, replacing any equipment lost in the fires. IFA, which has donated to the Foundation’s efforts, encourages all companies to reach out in any way possible to help those victims who continue to be affected by the fires.

“We will remember the 19 firefighters always as heroes, for protecting the lives of the citizens in their state,” said IFA President and CEO Steve Caldeira.  “The IFA is committed to helping and assisting in any way possible those who are on the ground aiding in the recovery operations in Arizona.”

The American Red Cross Grand Canyon is currently accepting monetary donations to help provide food, water and beds at two shelters at Yavapai College and Wickenburg High School.  The shelters are providing places to stay for those evacuated from their homes in the wake of the fire.

The IFA is keeping those impacted and families of the victims in our thoughts and prayers as firefighters continue to fight to control the deadly blaze. For more information of Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, please click here.  Please visit America Red Cross Disaster Relief to help and get involved.

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