Nicole Smith is a Kuman Franchisee and she is president of the International Association of Kumon Franchisees (IAKF). She is a passionate franchisee advocate and her list of benefits for joining an Independent Franchisee Association are worthy reading for any franchisee.
1. Independent franchisee associations are communities of like minded individuals who develop mentoring, best practices, and support for their business. The discussions amongst members should be your “morning newspaper”, helping you move your business (and instruction) forward.
2. There is power in numbers. I heard it 20 times at the Coalition of Franchisee Associations (Burger King, Subway, Supercuts, Dunkin, 7-Eleven and more) Forum. Being in Washington D.C. year after year and talking with politicians about issues impacting our businesses and families makes a difference. They need our engagement to educate themselves on important issues in small business and franchising.
This is also true within Kumon. In the last month, through the concerted efforts of several franchisees working together, we helped Kumon North America see the value of placing ads in ethnic publications (not in English) and applying a subsidy to these ads. Additionally we were able to negotiate a steep discount and get more value for our money.
3. While franchisors were not in Washington arguing for small business issues (healthcare, taxes, minimum wage, 40 hour work week), franchise associations were! Why? Because we have different priorities. Franchisors go there to talk about issues important to them, as they have the right to do and should do! But we have to work to help ourselves.
The work the International Association of Kumon Franchisees (IAKF) is doing in this political arena is imperative. Through the association you have more power and influence than most people realize. We attended a “Coffee with Corey” Booker at the end of the day for fun. He quoted one of our coalition franchisee reps in his speech from a quick discussion earlier in the day. He did not know anyone from the association was in the audience. We made an impression and he tweeted pictures with us in it!
4. A Congressman who was a former franchisee of a different brand expressed the importance of being in a franchisee association very eloquently. He told us franchisee associations are important because he gets two feet of paper a day to read. He cannot catch the bad legislation that will put us out of business. Franchisee associations have to tell him and other politicians what will hurt their members so they can address it.
This is what IAKF’s being a member of CFA does for us as small business owners. Together with other franchisee association leaders, on an ongoing basis, CFA identifies what will negatively impact our business and advocates for us.
Politicians (and probably the general public) do not understand the franchisor/franchisee relationship. They imagine franchisees are part of the 1 percent with DEEP pockets. Raising wages only impacts corporations, right? since that money will come right from their pockets? We help them understand just because we use a large brand name we don’t necessarily have a lot of money.
As uninformed as this sounds, it is the opinion of many politicians who have never made a payroll, paid rent or Aroyalty. We spent 15 minutes of every meeting with our representatives explaining we are really small local business owners making a difference in our community (Little League, jobs, PTAs). We really can lose our savings and homes when either a franchise business model is bad or the franchisor makes poor decisions, as well as when politicians make poor decisions that impact our business environment. We, franchisees from all brands, need to educate these people that we are the small guy.
As one politician put it, “If you don’t share your voice up here, trust us, someone else’s voice will be heard.”
5. Economies of Scale: Vendors want to work with us as a group to reduce our costs (and increase their business).
Kumon corporate focuses on how to make themselves profitable – quite naturally! – not their franchisees. This is a typical franchise model. Interestingly, other franchise owners confirmed no franchisor wants one franchisee to be too big and powerful. It is something inherent in the system. When was the last policy given that they made us more profitable? In fact some franchise systems do not allow franchisees to set prices. PAKCO (the franchise association before IAKF) negotiated that right for all of us years ago.
Nicole goes on to list some of the common reasons or excuses that franchise owners give for not joining the IAKF: Read the excuses here…