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IFA 2016: Why The World’s Largest Advocacy Group For Franchising Says It Needs PR More Than Anything

It was a record crowd at the IFA 2016 Convention in San Antonio. Attendance was up. Membership continues to climb. Success stories abound. And what does the association need more than ever? PR!

For the world’s largest advocacy group that promotes and supports the franchising business model, there was one all-encompassing plea: Send us your stories.

Incoming IFA Chairman points to ignorance about the business model.

Incoming IFA Chairman Aziz Hashim.

Incoming IFA Chairman Aziz Hashim.

As outgoing chairman Melanie Bergeron, of Two Men and a Truck, gave the gavel to incoming chairman Aziz Hashim, of NRD Capital, the legislative battles wage on in Washington for the joint-employer debate that could drastically change the landscape of how franchisors and franchisees do business.

“Ignorance is the enemy,” Hashim said. “People do not understand our business model.”

Contrary to the headlines that continue to win attention, Hashim said the problem is not the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board). It’s not the hurdle of special interest groups. And it’s not the problem of government. It’s the pervasive problem of ignorance.

“Ignorance spawns more ignorance,” he said. “The lack of understanding about our business model has created pressures on our business model.”

And franchisors can look within to see the same misunderstandings. Hashim said he has employees who work at a restaurant with Popeyes on the door, who get their pay with Popeyes on the check, and who think their employer is Popeyes HQ.

“I’m their employer,” he said. And that begs the question: How do we fix it to educate the American people across all aspects? How do we help explain how the franchising business model works?

Association calls on membership to ‘tell your story.’ Public relations can bridge the gap.

In a room full of 3,500 attendees, the call rang out to make PR a number one goal in 2016. Write books! Publish blogs! Talk about the business model!

Advocacy can cover a wide path. But this talk didn’t push for more advertising. It didn’t ask for more lead generation. It didn’t call for donations. All those topics have their place in the rotation. But something closer to our heart made it on the main stage and made it to the top of list for the IFA: Public relations!

“We do a lot to promote our brands,” Hashim said. “But we don’t do a lot to promote franchising as a business model.”

The grassroots picture needs to make it to Washington and across the national legislative landscape as the IFA looks to tell the small-business owner’s real situation.

“Somewhere in the process, the family ownership of franchise locations has been subordinated,” Hashim said. The big brands of franchise fame have taken their place to the point that legislators are considering issues with false ideas of deep pockets and wrongful business models.

At BizCom we have worked with some of the biggest chains in the franchise industry, and the most compelling stories are how those perceived “big brands” helped the little guy be his or her own boss to the great satisfaction of everyone involved. It’s the grassroots picture that always means the most. What happens on Main Street is the most compelling look at how franchise brands continue to make a lasting difference. Here’s to rolling up our sleeves and telling more of those stories.

We’re with you, Aziz!

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