Ed Shanahan, DDIFO Executive Director

Ed Shanahan, DDIFO Executive Director

In this day and age, no person should be paid less on the basis of their sex. If a woman does the same job as a man – and performs it at the same level – their compensation shouldn’t be determined by their gender. With that said, the actress Patricia Arquette’s comments about equal pay for women, which she gave during her acceptance speech at this year’s Academy Awards, got me thinking about the difference between perceived reality and true reality.

The issue of income inequality has bubbled up during the Obama administration. Unfortunately, focus on this issue has come not as a result of an educated and informed analysis, but rather as an emotional response to a perceived wrong. One only need look at the whole “Fight for $15” initiatives that have taken place around the country. Even the casual observer realizes that the $15/hour figure for which activists are protesting bears no relationship to the actual value of the work being performed. Rather, it has become an artificial goal based on what some believe is reality.

As small business operators, Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees acutely feel the pinch of higher employee costs. Traditionally, sound economic theory and the workforce equivalent of supply and demand have dictated the value employees bring to their job and guided business owners to set a wage for a particular set of skills. If the skill was in short supply, it commanded greater value and vice versa. But, the notion now pervading our political discourse that individuals should not be paid for the value of the skills they provide to a business, but, rather, for what society believes that individual needs to live at a certain level of comfort, is exceedingly dangerous to the health of our business community and long-term, to our nation’s economic survival. True reality or perceived reality?

Consider the debates over minimum wage, government mandated sick leave and schedule change penalties. Each of these dictates is being foisted upon the small business community without regard to the relationship they bear to the value of the work being done. Instead, they are based on what the government powers believe to be fair. Therein lies the true danger.

Hiking wages based on a mandate from government – and not based on the intrinsic value of the work an employee performs – leads to an increase in retail prices, which then leads to more pay inequality and more protests for higher wages. It is a cycle we have witnessed throughout the ages.

Notwithstanding the egregious nature of these shifting sands, there also seems to be a certain inevitability to some of them. It’s worth noting that 24 states increased the minimum wage this year; two others began mandating paid sick leave for private businesses; and still others will penalize a business owner who changes an employee’s shift without providing at least two-week’s notice. As we look ahead, the challenge for Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees, and other small business owners, is to earn a profit while adapting to an ever-challenging business environment—and keep up the fight against these kind of job-killing mandates.

The good news is that Dunkin’ franchisees have proven themselves quite adept at facing change head-on and adapting to new realities. The proof lies with the number of franchisees who operate multiple units—and with the number of Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees who have expanded into other brands. We share the stories of some of those operators in this edition of Independent Joe as a way to underscore how those who adhere to best practices and seek out the latest industry information can be most vigilant in protecting their interests and driving profits.

Against a backdrop of governmental mandates, employee activism and franchisor pressure, Dunkin’ franchisees continually prove they are capable of meeting any unforeseen challenges; it’s something we have witnessed during our 25+ years advocating for this group. It demands true vigilance, not the false realities portrayed in some Hollywood films or the hyperbole of some Hollywood actors.