There was a measured but excited buzz at the JW Marriott’s main ballroom on the morning of Sept. 13, when nearly 400 Franchise Action Network Annual Meeting attendees headed toward the exits for a trip to Capitol Hill. The yearly trek to the halls of Congress is essential to let members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate know about the importance of the franchise business model.
This year’s event, which took place Sept. 11-13 in Washington, D.C., centered around the Save Local Business Act, H.R. 3441. The bill was introduced in late July to provide a legislative fix for the National Labor Relations Board’s revised standard to determine if a franchisor can be considered a “joint employer” with a franchisee’s employees.
The FAN Annual Meeting started on Sept. 11 with members of IFA’s Board of Directors meeting with White House officials to discuss tax reform and regulatory relief. IFA committee meetings also took place Monday, followed by the Franchising Gives Back awards dinner that evening. Gold winners included McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Dream Vacations, Massage Heights and Planet Fitness.
The second day of FAN featured an update from the U.S. Department of Labor and speeches by U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) and former CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder. IFA’s Government Relations and Public Policy team provided useful tips on how IFA members can best voice concerns to members of Congress. Later that night, the Leadership and Franchisee of the Year Awards Dinner celebrated dozens of Franchisee of the Year award winners.
The next morning featured a speech by NBC News Political Director and Meet the Press host Chuck Todd. Then, eager and ambitious FAN attendees took to Capitol Hill, crisscrossing from the Rayburn House Office Building to the Senate Hart Office building, to the Cannon House Office Building, and so on. FAN attendees expressed concerns with clarity to legislators and congressional staffers alike. At the heart of each meeting was the future of the Save Local Business Act in the House of Representatives and the push to get similar legislation in the Senate. While this was the first time around for some FAN attendees, others had more experience. David Steinberg, CFE, a Michigan attorney who specializes in franchise law and is counsel at Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss, had done this before.
“IFA’s FAN event is the one chance you as a franchisee have to meet your senator or representative in a very small setting to let them know how their legislative action will directly affect your personal franchise business,” Steinberg said. “Your personal story will be remembered when it comes time to vote on an issue affecting your business,” he added.
A first-time attendee from Utah, InXpress Americas CEO Dustin Hansen said the FAN Annual Meeting gave him a “great sense of patriotism.” He hadn’t attended FAN before because “I felt my voice was a small fish in a big sea, and it seemed intimidating. However, I realize that many small voices make a loud chorus, and IFA did a great job at making the experience organized and simple. I will be attending FAN every year.”
Each person’s FAN experience is unique, but the goals are the same and the experience brings the franchising community together as one. At FAN, franchising advocates did their part to protect and support the business model, and now, attendees are hopeful that Congress will do the same when it comes to the agenda of the small business community on issues such as joint employer and tax reform. Join the effort by contacting your members of Congress and voicing your support for the Save Local Business Act.
J.P. Carroll is Associate Editor of Franchising World magazine. Andrew Parker is Editor-in-Chief of Franchising World and IFA’s Senior Manager of Publishing. Find out more and join FAN at www.franchiseactionnetwork.com.