Ed Shanahan, DDIFO Executive Director

Ed Shanahan, DDIFO Executive Director

I had planned to write a great article for this issue using the parable “Six Blind Men and an Elephant” to highlight how franchise owners from different regions within the Dunkin’ footprint may individually face different issues – development, price points, supply or something else – and how those issues can influence how they see the big picture.

In the parable, each of the six blind men touch a different part of the elephant then reach their own individual conclusions as to what the elephant is like. The one who touches the tail likens the beast to a rope, the one touching the trunk to a tree, the ear to a fan and so on. The parable’s meaning runs the gamut from differences in religious tolerance to the need to work together for best results and everything in between. My idea was to apply the latter meaning to the importance of Dunkin’ franchise owners working together, regardless of their market, and using DDIFO as a vehicle to accomplish their collective goals. I could almost see a Pulitzer on the horizon . . . but, alas.

Just as I was preparing to write my article, we learned from a respected private security firm that a Russian crime ring has stolen over a billion – yes BILLION – Internet passwords, from large and small companies across the world. The news was a stunning affirmation of the growing problem of Internet security in retail businesses like Target and P.F. Chang’s, which have been in the headlines for months.

This came against the backdrop of a widely criticized decision by the National Labor Relations Board which says a franchisor – in this case the McDonald’s Corporation – is jointly liable, with its franchisees, for complying with labor rules. By classifying the corporation as a “joint-employer” with its franchisees, the NLRB opens the door to labor organizers trying to turn quick service restaurants into union shops. The decision directly threatens the profitability of our members, even as data breaches become a growing threat.

These kinds of issues guide DDIFO’s advocacy and communications efforts in general, and are particularly relevant for our National Conference coming up in October.

You may have read the article by ANX eBusiness Corporation – a DDIFO sponsor – in the last issue of Independent Joe which explained how franchisees are liable in the event of a data breach and underscored the importance of PCI compliance. It is estimated that a data breach at any one of our Dunkin’ shops would cost each affected franchisee $80,000 or more in penalties, fees and other charges.

I’m pleased to announce that Mark Wayne, Executive Vice President, ANX eBusiness Corporation and an FBI Cyber Crime expert will be joining us on Tuesday, October 21 at the National Conference in Las Vegas. Their presentation is one that you will not want to miss. It will help you prevent a breach and potentially save tens of thousands of dollars in damages.

Franchisees across the footprint routinely tell me how they want to prevent unions from organizing in their shops. Now, as a result of the NLRB decision, franchisees will have to be even more vigilant. That’s one reason why we have booked Franklin Coley, Campaign Director, Center for a New Economy and an experienced political strategist to speak at the National Conference. His presentation, “The New Face of Labor Activism: Restaurant Operators under Siege,” will update franchisees on labor threats and spell out next steps so franchise owners can be better prepared to defend against them.

We have also learned recently that earnings for many in the QSR sector have been flat this year. Experts blame the weather as well as the aggressive campaigns to raise minimum wage and provide worker benefits. We are eagerly awaiting our annual report from DDIFO Restaurant Analyst John Gordon of Pacific Management Consulting Group. John will present his “View from the Street” at the National Conference. His insight and analysis is one of the most valuable components of the annual conference and, with all that is swirling about the QSR industry this year, John will provide a helpful prognosis to guide your business for the next year.

I’m sure you’ve read the forecasts for higher coffee prices resulting from weather problems in Brazil. It’s estimated that production will be at least 20 percent lower this year, which could directly impact your bottom line. The National DCP is keeping a close eye on this and other issues that affect Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owners. We look forward to this year’s presentation by National DCP Chairman Manoochi Fallah and CEO Scott Carter in Las Vegas. They will offer a look back and a focus forward in “National DCP: Past, Present and Future,” a discussion that is surely important to your bottom line.

The 2014 DDIFO National Conference celebrates a quarter century of this organization’s role as an independent voice for the interests of Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees. In this anniversary year, we are pleased that the relationship between DBI and its franchisees is on solid footing. This organization is well represented on the Brand Advisory Council and we are pleased that BAC Chairman Clayton Turnbull has agreed to deliver the keynote address kicking off this year’s National Conference, which will immediately be followed by an open forum discussion we are calling “Talking BAC.” We have also assembled a top-notch panel of franchisees who will share their perspectives on business, labor and government in our ever-popular “Conversation with Dunkin’ Franchisees.”

Registration is now open for the DDIFO National Conference. Aside from the informative programs we’re discussed here, we will also have entertainment, an outstanding exhibit hall and our DDIFO Hall of Fame Induction—all surrounded by the glitz, glamor and excitement of Las Vegas.

If you couldn’t tell, I am really looking forward to welcoming you all to Las Vegas; I’m just sorry I didn’t have the opportunity to tell you more about the six blind men and the elephant!