For many years I’ve participated in numerous events sponsored by the International Franchise Association (IFA), the world’s premier organization for franchisors, franchisees and industry suppliers. It’s been an honor, as well as an education, to meet the brightest people in franchising through the IFA, and now I’ve been given an opportunity to work with the IFA at the highest possible level as a member of its board of directors. I’m humbled by the recent decision of IFA’s leadership to appoint me to the board beginning in February 2016.
Oddly enough, when I originally planned the launch of Edible Arrangements in 1999 franchising wasn’t part of my plan. However, once I learned about franchising and the possibilities that it presented for developing and duplicating a business, I met with numerous franchise experts and ultimately decided to create a franchise program for Edible Arrangements.
That was 1,200-plus worldwide locations ago!
It’s fair to say that I owe much of my business success to franchising, and now I’m pleased to be able to give back to franchising by serving as a director of the IFA.
The current chairwoman of the IFA board is Melanie Bergeron, who is also chairwoman of the well-known franchise company Two Men and a Truck International. Melanie pointed out that IFA’s mission is to “protect the franchise model and educate the public and policymakers about the contributions that franchising makes to the country and around the world.”
To me, franchising’s greatest contribution is that it gives countless people the opportunity to experience the American Dream. I’ve seen these opportunities come to life through IFA’s VetFran program, which provides financial discounts and other benefits to veterans who want to become franchise owners. I’ve also seen these opportunities as a founding sponsor of IFA’s NextGen initiative, which connects millennials to the franchising model. Through NextGen, young people, who have been raised on companies with dynamic new business models such as Apple and Google, can mesh their business ideas and plans with the franchise model to capitalize on the American Dream.
As new technologies merge with franchising, I expect even more exciting opportunities to emerge.
It’s also important to realize that these American Dream opportunities are not limited to Americans. As I wrote in an earlier blog, people in other countries want to experience the American Dream because they want the benefits it affords. In fact, many of the greatest opportunities in franchising now exist beyond our borders as people across the world are eager to learn about franchising. As a director of the IFA, I look forward to playing a role in sharing that expertise with the world.