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The IFA Turns 50

We’d like to take a moment to congratulate the IFA which turns 50 years old this year.

Those people who started the International Franchise Association a half a century ago would hardly recognize today’s business landscape, but still their organization continues to provide advocacy and guidance to franchised businesses around the country.

What began when Dunkin’ Donuts founder Bill Rosenberg brandished a 100 dollar bill from his wallet at a franchisor convention in Chicago back in 1959 is now a hugely mobile and influential organization, as the recent successful of lobbying of President Obama on small business reform shows.

The latest issue of Franchise Times magazine features a detailed story on the history of the IFA. For anyone with an interest in franchising, this is a must-read. Writer Nancy Weingartner takes a decade-by-decade look at the IFA’s evolution, discussing how it planted roots in Washington and began its education programs, and many other things.

Part of the IFA’s initial success was that it let franchisors of all stripes convene and discuss the in’s and out’s of operating a franchise business.

“Companies got together to share ideas,” said Jerry Darnell of Benetrends. “There is no place else to get this information.”

Franchisors weren’t afraid to share best practices because they weren’t sharing trade secrets with their competitors. Members were in a number of different industries and the information they were sharing had to do with business-format franchising, not with burgers or brake jobs.

And as for today? Well, the IFA remains more vital than ever. We particularly enjoyed how the story concluded.

IFA’s challenge is to make business-format franchising a priority in their members’ businesses. They’ve accomplished this in part through economic studies, education and lobbying for small business concerns.

And by selecting volunteers who are committed to the cause. The past chairs stay involved. “They don’t do their time and walk away,” IFA’s CEO Matt Shay said.

“Where IFA goes is where franchising goes,” stated Zeidman.

Here’s to 50 more years of success!

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