Dunkin Donuts Independent_Franchise_Owners 25th Anniversary LogoIt went viral in short order and was captured by all the major news organizations around the world. The smartphone self-portrait, or “selfie” as it’s being called, that President Barack Obama took with Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron at the South African memorial service for anti-apartheid leader and former South African President Nelson Mandela has been portrayed – rightly so, from my perspective – as an inappropriate and narcissistic action by a world leader.

But, politics aside, the idea of the selfie has prompted me to consider how people view DDIFO. As we mark 25 years since the creation of this independent organization (see article on page 8), it is a good time to take a closer look at who we were, who we are today, and who we can and should be tomorrow – an organizational “selfie”, if you will.

During my travels around the footprint over the course of the past year, I have heard DDIFO described by more than a few of our franchisees as the anti-Dunkin’, an organization that exists as a check or a counter to Dunkin’ Brands. When confronted with that description in conversations with franchisees and others, I dispute it; and will continue to do so as we move into our 2nd quarter century. Instead, I point out that we exist to protect the interests of our members. Over the years, that mission has meant clashing with Dunkin’ Brands – and while it may necessitate a similar approach in the future – such conflict is not the organization’s focus in 2014.

In 1989, the year DDIFO was founded, Ronald Reagan had just wrapped up two terms in the White House. President Reagan worked tirelessly trying to reduce the reach of government into our lives and our businesses. Today, 25 years later, it is quite apparent his efforts fell short. In 2014, government will be even more closely involved in your business. That means this organization will continue to focus its efforts trying to minimize that negative impact and protect its members from the long arm of government intrusion.

It seems there are never ending efforts at increasing the taxes that are levied against the income of small business owners. And, there are a number of states that currently apply a different level of taxation on the sales of donuts in a QSR compared to sales in a supermarket. Our goal is to help remedy these inequities by working with state and local governments as well as other pro-business organizations—all with the goal of enhancing your bottom line.

DDIFO is fighting local and state government initiatives – like those seeking to ban the use of polystyrene foam or trans fats– that drive up franchisee costs. In communities seeking Styrofoam bans, we are offering alternatives like polystyrene recycling programs, which benefit all without forcing small business owners to bear the brunt of the cost. And, as labor organizers continue pressing QSR employees to join unions so they can fight for an unrealistic minimum wage, DDIFO is working with the Coalition of Franchisee Associations and others to provide a united front against that manipulation and the economic turmoil it will unquestionably foster.

For the past quarter-century, DDIFO has been there to defend the interests of its members against a multitude of threats. Even as those threats and the entities creating them have changed, our mission has not. We continue to fight to preserve your ability to operate your businesses successfully and will continue to do so, no matter the specific threat, no matter the origin of the threat, no matter the region of the threat!

It is why we exist, it is where our efforts can most benefit our members and it is what we see when we look at the DDIFO “selfie” – a focused and effective organization with a specific singularity of purpose.

Now, about that Obama “funeral selfie”…