Want Franchise With That?

Power Plays

Once people realized franchising wasn't a sure thing, interest in franchisee advocacy grew. The International Franchise Association has been representing the franchising community since 1960 but had limited its membership to franchisors and suppliers until 1992.

"The association's leadership had sufficient vision to realize that if franchising was truly going to operate with a sense of unity, and we were truly going to be the voice of franchising, franchisees had to play a very significant part in this organization," explains IFA president Don DeBolt.

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In the early '90s, Purvin helped create the AAFD to represent franchisees. The American Franchisee Association was also founded about this time, and today nearly 50 percent of franchises possess either company-sponsored franchise advisory counsels or independent franchisee associations, all giving voice to franchisees within their systems and the government.

While franchisees found a voice in the franchising community, franchisors began thinking globally. "Now there isn't a major franchise brand out there that doesn't have global reach, a presence in virtually every country," Kaufmann says. "Franchisors were the first to enter what used to be the Communist bloc of Europe to set up franchise networks in countries whose economies were only beginning to resemble free market operations. In many ways, American franchisors have developed the business marketplace in Eastern Europe and in many parts of the third world."

Back on the home front, franchisors were exploring new ways to educate franchisees. In 1990, Cheryl Babcock, who was once the executive director of the International Center for Franchise Studies at the University of Nebraska, was recruited by the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis to start a franchising program.

Under Babcock's direction, the Institute for Franchise Management offers a wide range of courses to undergraduate and graduate students, franchisees and franchise executives. "I served on the education committee of the IFA for a number of years, and I would listen to people from different franchise companies talk about what they needed," says Babcock. "I didn't see anybody [trying to meet those needs], so I worked with people in the franchise community to develop a program."

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This article was originally published in the May 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Want Franchise With That?.

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