First-ever Franchising Pavilion creates good will and good business


Some came because their boss is a military veteran. Others made the trip because a son or daughter served. Patty Conti, Vice President and General Counsel of Michigan-based Big Boy restaurants, rolled a colorful booth into the VA’s National Veterans Small Business Conference and Expo for the first-ever Franchising Pavilion in Detroit because, with the region’s unemployment rate over 16 percent, and thousands of veterans seeking work, it was just the right thing to do.

Army veteran and former combat medic Norman Theaker, who drove five hours from northern Michigan, was almost desperate for options after being unemployed for two years. “I was getting to the point where I thought I would have to give up,” he told the Detroit News. But the 53-year-old landed several promising interviews at the hiring fair of the unprecedented event, which included Two Men And a Truck, Aaron’s, FASTSIGNS, Big Boy, the Moran family of companies — about two dozen IFA members bringing in hundreds of opportunities — a franchising platoon of sorts that made up 10 percent of the total number of companies involved. 

“I have been amazed at the resumes,” Conti said. “We told our stores to hold off hiring until we could meet with the veterans at this event. We are very serious.” Conti’s colleague Steve Facione said another surprise was the quality of franchisee candidates. “I didn’t come here thinking there would be a lot of [franchisee] leads, but we’re getting two to three serious ones a day,” he said.

Former Army Ranger Sean Oatney, EVP and Director of Sales at SIGNARAMA, knows first-hand the quality of candidates the military develops, having served under Gen. Colin Powell during Desert Storm. “We are meeting a lot of veterans who just never thought of franchising as they begin their civilian lives. One couple wants to start a business together. Franchising is perfect for them,” Oatney said. SIGNARAMA is waiving its franchise fee of $44,500 for a limited number of veterans, in addition to offering discounts that increase with years of military service.

Laura Hanis, wife of Marine veteran Chad Hanis and a new Decor & You franchisee in Grand Rapids, Mich., is an example of VetFran’s effort. Driving three hours to Detroit to participate in IFA’s press conference at the event, she said, “We are very grateful for the opportunity.” Her husband added that military values and characteristics can be found in veterans’ family members. “They get it through osmosis,” he said, thanking franchisors who participate in VetFran.

“We look in at least 750 resumes,” said Aaron’s National Director of Franchise Sales Greg Tanner. “We need managers, and these vets are great candidates. They were willing to take a bullet for their last employer. We would hire them all if we could.”

Another franchisor echoed the sentiment. “If all my franchisees were veterans, it would be ideal,” he said.

“Veterans have the discipline, the core values, the work ethic and the passion that make great franchisees,” said Two Men And a Truck chairwoman and IFA Secretary Melanie Bergeron, who brought a team to both the hiring fair seeking team members and the Franchise Pavilion to meet potential franchisees. “This is a highly qualified, diverse and exceptional group of candidates,” Bergeron said. “It is higher-level than we’re used to seeing at expos. It’s a whole new audience for franchising.”

Earlier this year, VA officials including Sec. Eric Shinseki and Executive Director of Small Business Development Tom Leney asked the International Franchise Association to participate in the Detroit event. Traditionally a small business conference run by the U.S. Army, the event never before included a hiring fair or “Open House” where franchisors could meet candidates. Until the end, no one was sure how many veterans would attend.

A dogged VA Public Affairs team led by Nathan Naylor in Washington and Alysse Mengason in Detroit burned up phone lines and bombarded the blogosphere in the weeks before the event, joining multiple franchise PR teams determined to reach the target audience — the region’s veterans. As TV trucks lined the streets around Cobo Center starting at 5:00 the first morning of the three-day event, veterans started to stream in. By 8:00, still two hours before doors officially opened, thousands of veterans were waiting to register. In the end, nearly 10,000 veterans met potential future employers at Cobo.

“A lot of trade shows are hit and miss, but we have done very well here,” said FranNet’s John Blair, which is moving aggressively to seek veteran franchisee candidates. “A lot of guys here want to work from home. You see vets coming back who just served and need an opportunity to start business lives.”

Finding good candidates was not the only reason to participate. “We realize how important veterans are to what we are able to do in this country. It’s because of those guys that we can put people into business every day,” Blair said.

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Thousands join IFA town hall call on health care ruling

If you decided to join us for the town hall call today, you weren’t alone. Nearly 2,200 people joined the call to hear IFA’s perspective on the Supreme Court’s ruling on health care and its potential impact on franchising and small business. If you missed the call, you can still listen to the recording (also in wav format).

From left: Judith Thorman, Senior Vice President of Government Relations & Public Policy; Stephen J. Caldeira CFE, President & CEO; and Matt Haller Vice President, Public Affairs and Chief of Staff to the President & CEO prepare for the town hall.

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New Tools Provide Veterans More Access to Careers in Franchising

Veterans now have more tools to jump-start their careers in franchising, IFA announced during a media event in Washington, D.C. on June 28.  IFA conducted events at veteran-owned franchise businesses in 12 cities to launch new tools to put veterans back to work in franchising.   A VetFran Toolkit and a Veterans Mentor Network are part of IFA’s Operation Enduring Opportunity campaign. IFA’s VetFran program helps returning service members access franchise opportunities through training, financial assistance and industry support.

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What’s the impact of the SCOTUS decision on franchise businesses?



While there’s no hiding from the fact that many jumped the gun on yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling, it’s never been a secret that this costly, onerous, cumbersome and unworkable law would have an incredibly negative impact on the franchise industry. Those realities are now becoming even clearer amid yesterday’s decision.

Franchise businesses create jobs faster than other businesses due to the structured and scalable business model that encourages multiple establishment ownership, and they have a growing role in the small business landscape in this country. However, their future is put at risk by the disincentives the Affordable Care Act places on new establishment formation, the hurdles it places on prospective franchisees to own a franchise, and the costly reporting and recordkeeping requirements it imposes on smaller franchise owners. A study done by The Hudson Institute found that 3.2 million jobs at franchise businesses are put at risk by the employer mandate.

But don’t take it from me…take it from IFA members, including:

Tasti D-Lite CEO Jim Amos, who told FOX Business yesterday, “I think for small business in general, and franchise businesses in particular, it will cost jobs and increase costs…particularly as it relates to the employer mandate, franchisees who own one location and might have a desire to expand to multiple locations, they might choose not to invest.”

Or take FASTSIGNS CEO Catherine Monson’s view, who argues in a Washington Post oped this morning, “Employers play a central role in the nation’s health care system. Our company and our franchisees should be able to make their own choices in health care – these decisions should not be made by the government. As we look to expand our franchise system throughout the country, the decision creates increased uncertainty in our long term business planning by forcing me as an employer to choose between absorbing rising premiums or paying mandated penalties.”

As IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira told CNBC, “This decision sustains the uncertainty they currently have…The impending costs of health care do not give business owners confidence to open that extra store or to hire more people and create the economic output our country needs.”

While the IFA has consistently and passionately fought to repeal and replace the law, in the current political environment, repeal is unlikely until the political dynamic in Washington changes. However, the Court’s ruling does put in play the possibility the Senate could consider repeal of the law under the reconciliation process (making the elections even more important). For this reason, the health care issue will be front and center for the 500+ IFA members who will be in Washington September 10th-12th for our legislative fly-in and throughout our grassroots engagement during the upcoming July 4th and August recess periods.

Court decision places jobs at risk in franchise industry

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning ruled the Affordable Care Act constitutional, upholding the key provision of the law in a 5-4 decision: the individual mandate provision. Be sure to register for IFA’s tele Town Hall tomorrow with Cong. Tom Price to hear about what the decision means for franchise businesses going forward.

Following this morning’s decision, IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira released the following statement:

“We are deeply disappointed by the High Court ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act, which places undue burdens on the franchise small business community. While it may have been ruled constitutional, the law is unworkable, unaffordable and wrong for our country’s small business owners.

“By upholding the law, 3.2 million jobs at franchise businesses continue to be put at risk due to the employer mandate provision, which forces franchise employers with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees to pay penalties, thereby discouraging and disincentivizing the creation of new jobs.

 “The Affordable Care Act, and specifically the employer mandate, does not provide solutions to the cost and access issues it set out to address, but rather hurts the employees it aims to assist. IFA will continue to work with Congress to repeal the employer mandate and start over with a health care reform effort that enacts reforms that provide access to care at an affordable cost for franchise small businesses and their employees.”

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