As a lifelong baseball fan, it was a thrill to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s 715th homerun, which broke the longtime record set by the immortal Babe Ruth. 1974 marked Aaron’s 20th season in the big leagues. It was also the year after Major League Baseball introduced the designated hitter (DH) rule in the American League. While purists might say the DH ruined baseball, it’s worth pointing out that the DH has provided many players the opportunity to reinvent themselves and extend their careers. Aaron, in fact, finished his career as the DH for the Milwaukee Brewers, bashing another 22 home runs to bring his career tally to 755.

When Nigel Travis assumed the leadership of Dunkin’ Brands (DBI) a few years back, Dunkin’ underwent a reinvention of its own—not only from an operational perspective; but also from the relationship perspective with regard to its franchisees. Under previous leadership, some franchises used terms like “tyrannical” to describe how the brand dealt with its franchisees. Against that negative backdrop, many franchisees believed a strong counter-balance was necessary and DDIFO emerged as the “anti-Dunkin.”

Like so many aging baseball players have done, DDIFO has also reinvented itself. No longer is the organization concerned with taking swings at DBI. Instead, it is focused on its role as a national partner for its member franchisees with the goal of ensuring the continued growth and success of all Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owners. And, because franchises enjoy a healthy relationship with their franchisor, DDIFO is keeping its eye on the ball—advocating for the diverse and varied interests of all Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees.

In years past, DDIFO would counter the franchisor’s aggressive action against franchisees with a strategy devised largely with a nod to the association’s New England roots. Today, as Dunkin’ expands westward, DDIFO has expanded its reach and sphere of influence to better reflect the diversity of its membership. As an example, after holding the DDIFO National Conference at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut for two years, in 2013, we brought the signature event to Atlantic City. This year, we’re going to Las Vegas, with the hope of drawing a record number of members from all parts of the nation.

We are committed to delivering valuable services, benefits and representation to Dunkin’ franchisees all across the footprint, even if the concentration of members is higher in one region over another. As an example, we work with tax experts in Illinois to address inequities in state tax policies and we work with employment lawyers in the Mid-Atlantic to ensure our members are informed about and complying with myriad new employment policies. We became a founding member of the Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA) to increase our influence on Capitol Hill and we work closely with other business organizations advocating for state legislation that is favorable to Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees. When possible, we also work with the International Franchise Association (IFA) to fight legislation that is detrimental to your interests.

Advocating for all Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owners means looking forward—identifying the issues that require our attention and not reexamining the actions we took when circumstances were different or when one region had more representation than another.

The work is underway, and we’ll continue reinventing ourselves as a fully national organization. But to succeed, to keep hitting home runs, we will need the support, guidance and commitment of all franchise owners – from every corner of the footprint.

Now batting for DDIFO, at designated hitter…

Ed Shanahan
DDIFO Executive Director