Ed-ShanahanOver the course of the past month or so, we’ve watched three of America’s major sports present All-Star games, where their sport’s premier players are recognized and fans can witness the best of the best competing for all-star bragging rights. Most of these contests fail to live up to the hype, but in one case, a league broke the mold and created something truly compelling—if not actually successful. And, it is a lesson that has not been overlooked by DDIFO.

The 2016 NHL All-Star Game featured something fans rarely see in a regular season or playoff contest: a 3-on-3 format. For those of you who may not know, hockey is played with six players: five skaters and one goalie. If a player is penalized, he is removed from competition and a team can play with a man advantage. On rare occasions, major penalties can lead to 3-on-3 play for a limited time, but never for the duration of the game. For the All-Star Game, the league instituted 3-on-3 tournament play, consisting of 20-minute games. It was thrilling to see and notable for how it reinvented a model that, until now, wasn’t working so well.

The example struck me as parallel to how DDIFO has changed its mission over the past couple of years. So many people have used the phrase, “the anti-Dunkin’” to describe to me how they – and others – view this independent franchisee organization. And it is true that, for a time, DDIFO was focused on serving as a shield protecting the Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee community against the excesses of its brand. As the brand seemingly tightened the noose around the necks of many of its franchisees, DDIFO countered the aggression with effective legal representation, solid research, and strong public relations. That was then.

Today, the brand is a publicly traded international giant, focused on opportunities for growth and expansion. Under its current leadership, Dunkin’ Brands is working more effectively with its franchise owners and has removed the need for those franchisees to carry a shield. That’s why DDIFO has shifted its emphasis to providing enhanced services designed to help its members become better Dunkin’ operators and more successful business people.

If you’ve followed the pages of this magazine, or read our weekly newsletter, or attended our meetings, you’ve seen the change. This issue of the magazine features a lengthy article on DDIFO’s role in the historic passage of California’s Fair Franchising legislation. Our recent National Conference featured renowned franchise attorney Robert Zarco explaining why the joint employer ruling can be good for franchise owners. Right now, we are still working out the kinks on a captive insurance program designed to save you money. These initiatives are designed to provide value for your membership and position DDIFO as a resource for improving your bottom line.

Our newest value-add is really a big deal, especially in light of the pressure QSR operators are feeling to ensure food safety in their restaurants. DDIFO is now collaborating with the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe® program and offering their certification exams at every DDIFO meeting for the remainder of this year. What’s more, we are eliminating the proctor cost for our members and offering a significantly reduced proctor cost for non-members. This is a good deal on a program every franchise owner and manager needs. It is critical to your operations and your continued success. (Read more about Food Safety and the exams on page 16.)

Like an NHL all-star sharply pivoting to set up a scoring opportunity on empty ice, DDIFO is well positioned to enhance the operations of its members. And, it should go without saying, if the circumstances dictate the agile skater transform himself into an enforcer capable of protecting his teammate’s business interests, DDIFO is always prepared to shift back into shield mode.