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Matthew Shay, President of the IFA

At the recent IFA annual convention in San Diego, Matthew Shay, the IFA president, sat down with Franchise Direct to give his views on the state of the franchising industry. In this interview, Mr. Shay says he expects that franchising will help re-start the US economy, as it did during the most recent downturn, after 9/11.

“We know that the last time we were in a period of economic downturn, in the period from 2001 – 2002, the studies indicate conclusively that franchise businesses outperform non-franchised businesses from the period between 2001 – 2005 or 2006.”

Mr. Shay goes on to describe franchising as an “increasingly large part of the US economy”.

“Our estimates indicate there are more than 20 million Americans are employed in the franchising business. We contribute 10% of the total economic output of the United States. That number continues to grow and is now the largest employment sector other than the federal government.”

For people considering franchising as a new career, Mr. Shay offers a reminder that there is quite a lot of financing available for qualified entrepreneurs looking to make a start in franchising. He singles out women, minorities, and veterans as groups that stand to profit from franchising.

Franchising is “a wonderful opportunity for women, minorities and veterans,” he says. “There are no barriers to entry. It’s a great equalizer, a great opportunity.”

Mr. Shay discusses the number of opportunities that US Commercial Services provide.

“We bring to the US 50 or 60 Commercial Services officers from embassies around the world who bring delegations of foreign investors to look at franchise opportunities that they might bring back to their own country.”

Finally, Mr. Shay leaves us with these opinions on why the franchising industry is so strong and why it will survive the current economic downturn.

“The franchise business model has been so successful because it is the best example of a business approach that marries capital and investment with entrepreneurial spirit and passion for the business,” he says.

“There’s no other business structure that’s ever been conceived that’s been this successful.”

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