DDI_Franchise_Ed_Shanahan_ThumbBack in the 1980’s, I was running a real estate trade organization when housing costs were exploding, with no apparent end in sight. Even luxury housing was difficult to come by, and not what buyers were really looking for. As it always does, the market responded to the need, and gave us… McMansions! Today, Wikipedia defines it as a pejorative, but back then – in the trenches – it was taking an existing structure and while still functioning, transforming it into the better and more effective accommodations its owners sought. Whether a negative or not, the phenomena worked and housing across the country was updated, enlarged and dramatically improved.

Today, we are McMansioning DDIFO. We’ve kept the organization intact and functioning effectively during the makeover and will continue to do so. We’ve put a new database system in place and we’ve begun correcting, updating and cataloguing our membership information in ways that will dramatically help us better serve our members and meet their needs in the coming months and years. We’ve improved our members’ meetings and offered more of them in different locations than ever before in our 25 year history—including our extremely successful National Conference held this past October in Las Vegas.

Our sponsor program, now known as “Business Membership” is stronger and healthier than ever with more Business Members belonging to DDIFO and participating through their support, sponsorship and offerings. And there’s much more in store…

In 2015, we’re launching our first direct benefit program with a Business Member, SIB Fixed Cost Reduction, where DDIFO members can have SIB review their fixed costs, existing contracts and ongoing costs centers, to find the overcharges and collect savings and rebates for the members. SIB has an impressive record, finding savings and cost reductions in an astounding 98 percent of the cases they review.

We’ve finalized our members’ meeting calendar for 2015 and will again be meeting and offering programs to members at a host of different locations around the country. These on-site, in-person meetings provide camaraderie among franchise owners and opportunities to meet with our Business Members and learn about the valuable products, goods and services they can offer franchise owners.

We know, however, that not all members can take the time away from their stores and businesses to attend meetings in person, so we’re planning a number of webinars this year so you can benefit from the valuable information discussed at DDIFO meetings without leaving your office.

Many franchisees, particularly those in emerging markets, have told us they value the opportunities DDIFO provides to interact with other franchise owners and learn tools and best practices to help them overcome some of the challenges of operating Dunkin’ Donuts shops. To better assist that need in 2015, DDIFO will launch online communities that are safe and secure forums for discussing the latest brand initiatives or highlighting operational challenges. Many long-time franchisees tell us they are eager to share their experience, their wisdom and their guidance with those who are new to the system.

In 2014 we celebrated a quarter century as the organization representing and defending the interests of franchise owners in the Dunkin’ Donuts system. During those years, we have witnessed times where relations with the brand were great and times when they were not so great. But, we all know, the interests of franchisors and franchisees are not always in sync. Just last month, for example, Dunkin’ mandated PCI compliance costs be paid by the franchise owner on a monthly basis; that’s an additional annual cost of $624 per store now being forced onto your bottom line. DDIFO will continue to stand guard on matters like these and, through our membership in the Coalition of Franchisee Associations (CFA), will continue to fight for the right balance in your franchise relationship.

In past years, we’ve testified in a host of legislative settings around the country and will continue to make your voices heard and your interests considered again this year. As new legislative bodies take office and new initiatives are undertaken, know that DDIFO will be there to articulate the challenges facing the franchise owner and demonstrate the impact that these new initiatives will have on the franchisee community.

Yes, we’ll continue McMansioning DDIFO—transforming the organization, making it more effective and more relevant to the issues you face. At the same time, we’ll continue doing exactly what you, our members, expect: Keep watch for your interests and keep you informed, aware and represented.

Ed Shanahan
DDIFO Executive Director