IAFO and DDIFO Director Tom Colitsas

DDIFO has officially approved creating a Local Members Committee for Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owners belonging to the Independent Association of Franchise Owners (IAFO) – representing 125 Dunkin’ Donuts stores in New York, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. The Board has also voted to add IAFO Executive Director Tom Colitsas as a member of the DDIFO Board.

“A lot of work has gone into making this a reality,” said Colitsas. “I met with (DDIFO President) Jim Coen a year ago and we discussed how to bring this region into the association. Going forward we are going to engage in an aggressive campaign to increase membership among franchise owners in this region.

Colitsas says the IAFO is holding a seminar in August on topics of interest to the members and at that time they will discuss the benefits that come with inclusion in the DDIFO. “The recruitment effort will focus on education and communication,” he said.

Perhaps the strongest benefit for IAFO members is their inclusion in a group that is growing not just in size but also in influence. Late last year, DDIFO welcomed a Local Members Committee (LMC) made up of over 400 shops from the Chicago area. With IAFO’s entrance, DDIFO now represents close to 2500 shops nationwide.

“We have a huge investment in Dunkin’ Donuts and, as franchise owners we have to protect our investment by making sure we have strong platform from which we can negotiate with the company,” said one Mid-Atlantic franchise owner who asked to remain anonymous.

DDIFO President Jim Coen says the addition of the IAFO shows that DDIFO’s efforts to provide a united voice for franchise owners is working. “Franchise owners throughout the system are learning that we are a true advocate for their business interests and have the clout to get things done.”

Board Vice-Chairman Asheesh Seth, who was the former Executive Director of the Midwest Dunkin’ Donuts Franchise Association (MWDDFA), says IAFO members will immediately see that DDIFO is a great source of information when it comes to protecting franchisee interests. And, he says, the addition of these new members will further strengthen the DDIFO.

“DDIFO’s strength is directly proportional to the number of members it has.  The more that join, the stronger DDIFO will be. IAFO’s inclusion is a huge step in the right direction toward creating a truly national franchisee organization,” he said.

According to Colitsas, new members from the Mid-Atlantic region are going to play a prominent role in the DDIFO.

“We’re very excited down here. We have a good team of dedicated people and we are going to surprise everyone. We’re going to make this a prominent region and make a big contribution to the national effort.”