Pack your bags, make your plans, and get ready to experience “The Wonder of it All,” at the 2016 DDIFO National Conference, happening October 24-25 at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

The conference will convene franchisees from around the country in the place where Dunkin’ Donuts got its start: New England. The past three conferences have taken place in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

“As a national organization, it’s imperative that we bring national events to our constituency all around the Dunkin’ footprint,” says DDIFO executive director Ed Shanahan. “But it’s important for us to get back to New England after four years away, to ensure our base knows we’re not forgetting about them.”

And this year’s theme? “Celebrating Your Independence,” a play on the presidential election taking place two weeks later and a nod to the fact that DDIFO is the independent association for Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owners.

“Central to our independence is having a say in who will lead our country for the next four years and in how we’ll use DDIFO to protect our franchisees moving forward with Dunkin’ Donuts,” explains Shanahan. “The specific changes that Dunkin’ tried to slip into the new franchise agreement will be a common thread throughout the presentations at the conference.”


Tucked into the Connecticut woods, Foxwoods is the largest resort casino in the country. In short, there really is something for everyone.

“The great thing about coming to Foxwoods is that you can bring your family and extend your stay,” says Guido Petrosinelli, a longtime franchisee from Rhode Island, and a member of the 2105 DDIFO Hall of Fame class. “It’s good for your spouse to hear things about the business, so they don’t think you’re crazy,” he added with a laugh.

The annual conference is an opportunity for franchisees to learn what’s going on in the industry while sharing ideas with one another in an atmosphere free from judgment and franchisor oversight. DDIFO brings in speakers who are experts on franchising to focus discussion on topics as varied as the NLRB “joint employer” ruling, fair franchising legislation and multi-unit franchising.

The opportunity to hear all this in one place only happens at the conference, so it’s important for franchisees to make plans to be there. “This is a great brand, and this is a great opportunity for us to get together and learn more about what the brand is doing,” says Petrosinelli.

Opening Keynote speaker

azizhashim_1This year, DDIFO is pleased to present Aziz Hashim, chairman of the Board of the International Franchise Association (IFA), as the Opening Keynote speaker for the National Conference. Hashim is a franchisee turned franchisor, with a number of successful brand concepts to his credit. As someone who has worked both sides of the franchise business, he will address the heavy overlap in business goals between the two groups.

What many people may not know is that, Dunkin’ Brands’ membership in IFA actually extends to the franchisee community, which means Dunkin’ owner/operators can also benefit from the organization’s research, education and advocacy efforts.

“IFA works through its government relations and public policy, media relations and educational programs to protect, enhance and promote franchising and the more than 800,000 franchise establishments that support nearly 9.1 million direct jobs, $994 billion of economic output for the U.S. economy and 3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” Hashim says on the IFA website.


The DDIFO National Conference is always hailed as a respite for franchise owners to get away from the day-to-day operations of their business and focus on big-picture topics while getting together with old friends and colleagues. The 2016 National Conference will feature a strong lineup of presentations and panel discussions, from experts in franchising, business, law and media. At press time, the lineup is scheduled to include:


DDIFO General Counsel Carl Lisa, Sr., will present an in-depth examination of the changes Dunkin’ Brands proposed making to the current Franchise Agreement, which – through Lisa’s efforts – has now been forestalled. Attorney Lisa will also delve into the issues raised in a pending challenge to Dunkin’ Brands from the Baskin Robbins side of the organization.

The Importance of Franchisee Engagement in Government

There are a plethora of state mandates afoot that directly impact how small businesses operate. Among these are mandatory family leave, sick pay, minimum wage, and predictive scheduling. DDIFO members need to discuss the ramifications of this type of legislation, and talk about how they can affect the outcome.

Multi-unit franchisee Rob Branca, who is co-chair of the Brand Advisory Council’s Government Affairs Committee, will join this year’s conversation on the importance of franchisee involvement in government affairs. Branca will be joined by Keith Miller, a multi-unit Subway franchisee from Northern California and chairman of the Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA), who was instrumental in the passage of California’s ground-breaking fair franchising legislation and Chirag Shah, vice president of government affairs for the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA). These men are recognized within franchising as some of the most effective franchisee advocates in the U.S. DDIFO members will take note of their expertise and insights with regard to the most important issues franchise owners are facing across the country.

Franchisees and Private Equity

As franchising has grown, more private equity money has helped owners expand their networks and seek profit in multi-unit franchising. The Opening Keynote speaker for this year’s National Conference, Aziz Hashim, created his own private equity fund to invest in franchise companies two years ago. Today, NRD Capital Partners, is helping other franchisees grow and prosper. This discussion will center on how franchisees can increase their independence by growing their capital.

Dunkin’ and Wall Street – Two Perspectives

This discussion features two independent perspectives on the state of Dunkin’ Donuts and the DNKN stock, with a focus on the challenges the company faces going forward. Moderated by DDIFO Communications Director Matt Ellis, the panel will feature John Gordon, DDIFO restaurant analyst and founder of Pacific Management Consulting Group; and Candice Choi, a long-time reporter with the Associated Press, covering consumer and business news.

2016 Presidential Possibilities

Two weeks after the National Conference ends, the United States will elect its next president. This campaign has been notable in many ways and, regardless of who wins, the 45th President of the United States will face unique challenges, some of which will directly impact how Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees will operate their businesses. DDIFO is pleased to
present Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, who will offer his unique perspective on presidential politics, as well as a close examination of the latest Quinnipiac poll numbers and what those numbers seem to indicate will happen on November 8.

Dunkin’ franchisees will have the chance to ask Schwartz how the changes in Washington could affect the franchising business going forward.


The Election and Its Impact on You

111313howiece002This year, DDIFO presents a stirring and savvy political commentator to the stage at the National Conference. The Closing Keynote will be delivered by Howie Carr. For those living in Greater Boston, Carr is a familiar personality who hosts his own syndicated radio show on WRKO AM-680 and publishes a widely-read column in the Boston Herald. Carr is also successful author and member of the National Radio Hall of Fame. He is frequent political commentator appearing on NBCs Today Show, MSNBC, C-SPAN, Court TV, CNN, The Fox News Channel, and CBS This Morning. He is a former winner of
the National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism, and his book, The Brothers Bulger, was on The New York Times Bestseller list for 11 weeks.

Carr will broadcast his radio program live from the DDIFO National Conference beginning at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 25.


Once again this year, DDIFO business members will be on hand to share their latest innovations and offerings—and maybe even make some deals for DDIFO members. And, again this year, the exhibit hall is open to select franchisors that may be a good fit for some DDIFO members.

Executive Director Ed Shanahan says these companies are not direct competitors but “businesses that complement DDIFO members.” As importantly, they represent new opportunities for Dunkin’ franchisees, many of whom may not have room to grow in their current Dunkin’ territories and want to branch out. Past participants have included Del Taco and McAlister’s Deli. This year, DDIFO is looking to expand into non-food concepts such as pet supplies. The exhibit hall is always a lively hive of activity at which many DDIFO members say they have made important connections and gained valuable knowledge that can lead to greater operational efficiencies and profits. The exhibit hall will be open throughout each day’s scheduled events.


For many, the highlight of the annual DDIFO National Conference is the celebration of those franchisees – and others – who have made a significant contribution to the Dunkin’ Donuts system. The 2016 Hall of Fame Dinner and Awards Gala will be held on Tuesday evening, the final night of the conference. Registration for the event is strongly recommended as honorees often buy entire tables for their families and friends.

“We are looking forward to recognizing these outstanding franchisees. It is always a great evening and a chance to share wonderful stories about the Dunkin’ Donuts business, and this year promises all of that and more,” says Shanahan.

Whether it’s new information, relevant panel discussions, compelling keynotes or important connections made with business partners, the National Conference only happens once a year and shouldn’t be missed.

“Part of DDIFO’s mission is to keep franchisees united,” says Petrosinelli. “We can accomplish more together than individually, and this conference helps us do just that.”

Registration for the 2016 DDIFO National Conference and Hall of Fame Dinner is now open. Everything is set for a momentous event in the Connecticut woods.