In furthering our mission to help our members achieve Total Quality Franchising℠ TQF℠ the Association has developed four principle goals of service.
- I. Market Support Services
- II. Legal & Financial Support Services
- III. Legislative Support Services
- IV. General Member Benefits
I. Market Support Services
Above all else, the heart and soul of the American Association of Franchisees and Dealers is helping franchisees develop greater market power, especially negotiating leverage, so that fair and equitable franchise relationships can develop over time.
The founders of the AAFD strongly believe the American free market works over time. Our free market economic system is based on the premise that "a willing buyer and a willing seller, each with equal bargaining power, will come to fair and balanced business arrangements."
The concept of market support services is really quite simple. The AAFD helps franchised members build market power and bargaining leverage by organizing into effective and cohesive associations of franchisees, affiliated with the AAFD's Trademark Chapters. AAFD Trademark Chapters achieve negotiating leverage with their franchisors, their suppliers and ultimately their customers by developing vital marketing networks.
The AAFD provides market support services in many ways:
PUBLIC EDUCATION: The AAFD educates franchisees and the general public regarding critical issues and problems in franchising. The Association must serve to echo strong warnings and objections to inequities in the franchising community. By exposing problem areas in franchising, the franchising community will be forced to take note and respond.
FRANCHISEE BILL OF RIGHTS: The AAFD has declared a Franchisee Bill of Rights which identifies 15 important contractual protections every franchisee should demand of his/her franchise relationship. Prospective franchisees should use the Franchisee Bill of Rights as a negotiating list with prospective franchisors.
THE EIGHT THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A FRANCHISE OPPORTUNITY: The AAFD has identified 8 important criteria for franchise selection. The AAFD cautions against buying any franchise unless all 8 criteria are met.
THE AAFD'S FAIR FRANCHISING STANDARDS: The AAFD's crowning achievement has been the development of our Fair Franchising Standards, the first ever comprehensive effort to develop guidelines for franchising practices which balance the legitimate interests of both franchisors and franchisees. The new standards serve as the basis for the AAFD's new franchisor accreditation program (see the AAFD's Fair Franchising Seal below).
TRADEMARK CHAPTERS: Most importantly, the Association has organized itself into Trademark Chapters. The AAFD's Trademark Chapters effectively serve as networks for every franchise system represented by the Association. Franchisees are encouraged to participate actively in a Trademark Chapters for the benefit of the franchisees of their particular system. The AAFD's Trademark Chapters fulfill the functions of a trademark specific franchisee association at a fraction of the cost of forming an autonomous organization. Trademark Chapters are fully supported by the AAFD and are represented on the Association's Franchisee Leadership Council (FLC).
FRANCHISEE LEADERSHIP COUNCIL (FLC): The AAFD has created a special Franchisee Leadership Council of all independent franchisee associations that have affiliated with the AAFD, and the presidents of each Trademark Chapter. The AAFD will not create a separate Trademark Chapter for any franchise system that has an independent franchisee association on the Franchisee Leadership Council. Rather, the FLC member trade association will serve all the functions of an AAFD Trademark Chapter. All franchisees of a FLC member association are granted affiliate membership in the AAFD. Affiliate members may upgrade their membership at substantial savings. Membership in the FLC is available to any independent franchisee trade association that either pays FLC annual dues or is a managed Trademark Chapter of the AAFD.
THE FAIR FRANCHISING SEAL: The AAFD has established a prestigious award for franchisors that recognize independent franchisee associations, are dedicated to Total Quality Franchising through their substantial compliance with the AAFD's Fair Franchising Standards, and have established a reputation for fairness with the franchisees of their system. Prospective franchise purchasers can now look to AAFD accredited franchise systems to identify franchisors with a track record of fair franchising practices.
MEMBER BUYING POWER: The AAFD's exclusive Branded Programs and Supporting Member programs help maximize the buying power of franchisees by negotiating substantial member discounts across a broad range of products and services.
TRADE ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SUPPORT SERVICES: The Association offers management support services to members of the AAFD Franchisee Leadership Council. Trade associations taking advantage of AAFD management services may, in effect, use the AAFD as its management and administrative support staff. The AAFD will provide organizational and management support, database management, facilitate communications, and assist in meeting planning.
II. LEGAL AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT SERVICES:
THE FRANCHISEE LEGALINE AND FINANCIALINE℠
The AAFD Franchisee LegaLine℠ is the foremost network of legal counsel who focus on franchise law and the representation of franchisees. All LegaLine affiliate attorneys offer special members only rates, and packaged services designed for AAFD members. Modeled on the AAFD's LegaLine program, the Franchisee FinanciaLine℠ is designed to offer a range of financial services, including bookkeeping, accounting, tax advice and lending services. The AAFD is developing a new Lenders Network of banks and Small Business Lending and Investment companies interested in doing business with AAFD members on a preferential basis.
III. LEGISLATIVE SUPPORT
The AAFD monitors important legislative initiatives and provides testimony and advocacy in support of franchisee causes. The AAFD also maintains an Amicus Brief Committee to file friend of court briefs in support of franchisee causes.
IV. GENERAL MEMBER BENEFITS
As a national business trade association, the AAFD endeavors to provide the full array of general member benefits one would expect from a broadly based trade association. Some of the AAFD's current and planned member benefits are as follows:
The Franchisee Voice℠ newsletter is now an online blog. Formerly, the Franchisee Voice℠ a quarterly publication, the first issue was only eight pages and the publication grew to over thirty pages. The goal is to build The Franchisee Voice Blog as a format that keeps AAFD members abreast of the pressing issues in franchising, while providing an ever growing orientation to AAFD member benefits.
AAFD Communication Central: The AAFD strives to facilitate communication and networking among members, and to serve as a clearing house of information of interest to franchisees. This website is the cornerstone of this effort. We now feature unlimited bulletin boards & live chat. Equally important, the AAFD has made an investment of thousands of dollars to develop a sophisticated franchisee database, cloud computer network, teleconference and webinar services, centralized mailing, and a host of other services which help us to communicate with our members, and for our members to communicate with one another.
For our franchisee trade groups and Trademark Chapters, the Association provides several mechanisms for the dissemination of information and by which our members are able to communicate and network.
InfoLine℠, Meeting Call, Broadcast email Network, Centralized Mailing: The Association has developed many systems and facilities to dramatically improve the ability of franchisees to communicate, including our national 800 number, the Franchisee InfoLine℠, which provides franchisees a place to call when they have questions regarding their franchise businesses. The AAFD's state-of-the-art teleconferencing services, provided by Branded Program℠ Partner Intella II, are available as a free service to all of our franchisee members. The association provides broadcast email blast services also without charage.
The First Franchisee Association on the Internet: The AAFD was proud to be the first franchisee association to set up residence on the Internet. In 1997, the AAFD dramatically expanded its Internet presence to become a central source for information about franchising, and a gateway to access hundreds of AAFD benefits and service providers. The AAFD is proud to have been honored as a Dow Jones Select Site and a top site by Smart Business Computing Magazine. In late 2011, the AAFD published a totally redesigned website taking full advantage of the benefits of social media.
The AAFD continues to extend Communication Central to our members at the edge of telecommunication technology. The combination of our mailing, blast email, telecommunications webinar, and Internet services, as well as The Franchisee InfoLine℠ and The Franchisee Voice℠creates a dynamic ability for the Association to communicate with its members. The AAFD's communication efforts are tied together by AAFD MemberManagement℠, a powerful database management software system that allow us to maintain close contact with AAFD members throughout the United States.
PROFESSIONAL SERVICES PANELS: The AAFD has created several Professional Services Panels to provide quality services and products to AAFD members at special members only prices. In addition to the Franchisee LegaLine℠, FinanciaLine℠ and the National Lender Network (described above), the association has also developed its exclusive Suppliers Network℠, which has dramatically expanded from its original concept of a network of franchising consultants to the AAFD's national network of product and service providers who offer discounts and members only pricing to AAFD members! The AAFD has also created a dispute resolution panel (of arbitrators and mediators), as well as a Speakers & Experts Bureau to provide a constant source of expertise to the franchising community.
TRADE ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT SUPPORT SERVICES FOR FLC MEMBERS: The Association offers management support services to members of the AAFD Franchisee Leadership Council. Trade associations taking advantage of AAFD management services may, in effect, use the AAFD as its management and administrative support staff. The AAFD will provide organizational and management support, data base management, facilitate communications, and assist in meeting planning.
EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS: A major mission of the AAFD is to educate franchisees and the general public regarding the realities of the franchise industry. Through AAFD publications, seminars, and sponsored public appearances, AAFD sponsored educational programs will help enlighten the public regarding the realities and pitfalls of franchising, and teach existing franchisees how to prosper and improve their circumstances within the franchise industry.
The AAFD is designing educational seminars and programs of benefit both to franchisees, franchise attorneys, and other professionals serving the franchising industry. The Association has participated in numerous public forums and has contributed articles to numerous magazines and journals including Fortune Magazine, Franchise Times, Money Magazine, the Franchise Handbook, Entrepreneur Magazine, Black Enterprise, Working Woman, Glamour, the American Bar Association Forum On Franchising, and the ABA Franchise Law Journal, among others.
NATIONAL INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE: The AAFD functions as an unofficial clearing house of a constant flow of information regarding the franchise industry. As the Association grows, so will its capacity to accumulate and assimilate data of valuable import to our franchisee members. Presently, there is not a single source of unbiased information available to franchisees. The AAFD is designing its internal database capabilities to serve as a repository of important information relative to issues of importance in franchising. For example, the AAFD encourages Franchisee LegaLine℠ members to advise the Association of franchise systems involved in litigation so the AAFD may refer franchisees of a specific system to counsel already knowledgeable with the specifics of particular franchise systems. Additionally, the AAFD intends to act as a clearing house for good and fair franchising business practices. In this way, the AAFD will provide a valuable service to its members, the public, and the franchising industy.
ANNUAL MEETING: Pursuant to the Association's Declaration of Trust, the AAFD holds its general membership meeting each year. The AAFD annual meetings are an opportunity to bring together the general membership, to elect the Board of Directors, and to hold various advisory councils, as well as annual meetings for the Association's Trademark Chapters and Franchisee Leadership Council.
A highlight of the annual meeting is the AAFD sponsored Market Power Trade Show. Exhibitors are limited to accredited franchisors,Branded Program Partners℠, and members of The Franchisee LegaLine℠, FinanciaLine℠, and CounseLine℠, as well as other supporting members of the Association. AAFD annual meetings also feature noted speakers of interest to franchisees and are held in suitable convention cities giving AAFD members an optimum opportunity to network with one another and to advance the cause of franchising from the perspective of franchisees.
AAFD PUBLICATIONS: The AAFD sponsored the authoritative book on franchise fraud and abuse, The Franchise Fraud: How to Protect Yourself Before and After You Invest, authored by AAFD Board Chairman Robert L. Purvin, Jr., and published by John Wiley & Sons in 1994. The Association published the AAFD'sRoad Map to Selecting a Franchise. AAFD Chairman Purvin has also jointly authored Franchising 101 and the CPR Dispute Resolution book on the use of mediation in franchising. The Association has developed the AAFD Resource Storetm which carries selected titles that are available at discounted prices through Amazon.com.