IndFA and not for-profit group Myths

GroupThere are some misconceptions about independent franchisee associations, IndFA that I have seen that I think should be dealt with.

Not for-profit groups: I have been involved with NFPs since 1972. I’ve been or continue to be a member or founder of the Canadian Alliance of Franchise Operators, Knights of Columbus, Columbian Squires, Rotary International, Worldwide Marriage Encounter., St. Mary’ s parish, Landscape Ontario, Greater Barrie Chamber of Commerce, Toastmasters, etc.

Other people don’t have very much experience and therefore feel a group is a “failure” when, in fact, it is may not be. Let me spell out a few myths that I think get in the way of forming IndFAs.

1. Active Members: We need a large majority (70 to 80%) members to be active or to pay to join up to form an IndFA (quantity).

Wrong. While the higher is better, what is way more important is the quality of those that get involved. It is normal for groups to have only 10 to 15% of their members active on a monthly basis. Life is busy and getting busier and there are many demands on everyone’s times. Any progress toward improvement means it is a success.

2. Our problems are primarily legal: We need a tough brand name lawyer to defend us.

Wrong. I’d estimate that 95% of an IndFAs work is non-legal and must be done by their members for their members. The legal perspective is a very dangerous one that automatically causes an “Us versus Them” mentality. Yes there are legal issues but the “legal tail must not wag the IndFA’s dog”. Any lifestyle programs that an IndFA does such as improving franchisees’ ability to take more than one week off holiday in a row, are very important and should be supported by the franchisor as well. I would say that a lawyer is the last person to be added to an evolving executive and only paired with an inhouse non-legal consultant to guard against credence good cheating.

3. We need a “war chest” to fight the franchisor: The focus of the IndFA is primarily enforcing past grievances of an economic nature.

Wrong. Yes resources need to be accumulated but when you create an arsenal, the weapons tend to get used. The purpose of an IndFA is to meet the $ and lifestyle goals of their members, not to  line a sweet-talking lawyer’s pocket. Remember as a hard-headed realist that any franchisor can easily outspend and, more importantly, out-wait any legal action. You are delivering your head on a platter when your first signal to the franchisor that you’re going to resolve issues at the end of a gun. (BTW: I would suggest you’re signaling how much of a zombie a franchise lawyer has made you.)

4. We will deal with these few problems and be done with it: The IndFA is problem focused and the problems are simple.

Sorry…wrong. The work will always continue as long as there is a franchise relationship. By getting one answer, it normally reveals two other questions. Don’t be a moron and only come forward with negatives. Don’t feed into the stereotype of loser and whinny children. For every one request to the franchisor, solve 2 within the franchisee group that will improve your members’ lives. Life and franchising is complex and so are the solutions. Realize what you can’t do immediately and deal with what you can.

5. The Franchisee Advisory Board, FAB is as useless as a corporate board of directors: They just seem to be figureheads interested in furthering their own business prospects.

This can be true and that is the surest sign of a failing IndFAs. The FAB or board is the most important key in starting . They must be as active as can be and support the President, especially when he or she catches the first shit projectile from the franchisor. The board is critical in supporting the president and his advisors in creating an image, program strategy and building confidence and trust within the franchisee group. Without a board of integrity, no president or IndFA can survive.

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