2017 2017 - MULTI-UNIT FRANCHISING CONFERENCE Matt Haller, Shelly Sun, Matthew Patinkin, Catherine Monson, Ron Feldman lier this year, listed three main goals for the IFA in 2017: 1) increase engagement with franchisees; 2) increase the visibility of FranPac; and 3) increase support for emerging franchisors (fewer than 100 units). “Most franchisors don’t make money until they have more than 100 units,” she said, which is dangerous to franchisees and their employees. Patinkin said that while there has been no major effect yet from the NLRB’s joint employer rulings, it has created uncertainty and is a huge disruptor. “We talk about it at all our meetings, which is money and time spent on issues that don’t benefit our company. We want to talk about operations and making money.” Monson said that although Fastsigns has never been a joint employer, “We have made some significant changes.” She said Fastsigns has stepped back from delivering some services the brand used to provide franchisees, on the advice of her attorneys. “We don’t do that any more, and it breaks my heart,” she said. Sun echoed that sentiment, saying there are “things we’ve stopped doing” because of the new NLRB rulings. For example, BrightStar used to provide and pay for an 2017 MVP Award winners 70 MULTI-UNIT FRANCHISEE IS S UE III, 2017 applicant tracking solution its franchisees could use. But “joint employer forced us to find a different company for this soft- ware—adding thousands of dollars to our franchisees,” she said. “We were willing to pay for it. We felt we were providing valu- able guidance.” Feldman said the NLRB rulings have also affected franchise lending, valuations, and the pace of development. “If joint employ- ment succeeds, every franchisee’s business will be devalued—and there will be fewer Gary Gardner, Therese Thilgen and Ronnie Lott people in the pool to buy your business.” He said so far the winners have been the lawyers and the third parties franchisors are now using to provide the support and services they used to do themselves. Monson pointed out that franchising has data on its side. “But that’s not what moves hearts and minds,” she reminded attendees. “We need to tell the stories of small businesses—personal stories.” For instance, how you used to work in a ter- rible job, but now you’re your own boss, hiring entry-level employees who now are managers or have their own units, and how the rejiggered definition of joint employer is threatening the livelihoods of everyone in your business. The conference’s Platinum Sponsors were Arby’s and Jersey Mike’s. Gold Sponsors this year were Bojangles’, Buffalo Wings & Rings, Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s, Dunkin’ Brands, IFA, La Madeleine, Toppers Pizza, and Zaxby’s. More than 220 franchise brands and suppliers sponsored the event. Next year’s conference will take place at Caesars Palace April 3–6, 2018. Visit multiunitfranchisingconference.com for a look back at this year’s conference, and for details on registering for next year.