Twenty-five years ago, a small group of concerned franchise owners and their franchise attorneys came together to form an organization dedicated to advocating for franchisee rights and interests. The AAFD’s founding members had observed a long and slow erosion of franchisee rights and a growing insistence on the part of franchisors to control every aspect of the franchise agreement. Early on, the founders of the AAFD declared a “Franchisee Bill of Rights.”
Today, the American Association of Franchisees and Dealers is going strong and still promoting our vision of Total Quality Franchising, our commitment to collaborative franchise cultures that respect the legitimate business goals of both franchisors and franchisees. As we celebrate our 25th Anniversary, we have achieved many laudable goals even while major challenges to fair franchising remain.
The Birth of the AAFD Fair Franchising Standards
In 1994, the AAFD established a blue-chip committee comprised of franchisors, franchisees, and franchise attorneys for the purpose of negotiating and promulgating a body of fair franchising standards that would respect the legitimate needs of franchisors and franchisees and form a basis upon which the AAFD could offer an accreditation of worthy franchise systems. In 1996 the AAFD published the inaugural edition of the AAFD Fair Franchising Standards, a one-of-a-kind document that allows perspective franchisees to reliably judge the value of a franchise opportunity. Since that time, the Fair Franchising Standards continues to be one of our organization’s greatest accomplishments, and we believe it is the cornerstone to any conversation about improving the franchisee-franchisor relationship.
The Fair Franchising Standards also led to the development of the Fair Franchising Seal, the only full accreditation program that recognizes collaborative franchising cultures.
Supporting AAFD-Affiliated Chapters
The support of effective franchise owners associations has consistently been the AAFD’s focus and most effective tool in the quest to encourage collaborative franchising. The impact of the AAFD’s ideas grows exponentially with every new AAFD-affiliated franchisee association that is formed. Each of these associations utilizes the concepts of the Fair Franchising Standards and Total Quality Franchising to create change within their own franchise system. We are excited by the continued interest we see from new franchisees to develop their own affiliated associations. (Learn more about forming a Franchisee Association through the AAFD.)
Education, Legislation, and the Franchisor Watchdog
Over our 25-year history, we have also striven to provide useful information to the franchisee community. This starts with our FREE Roadmap to Selecting a Franchise, which helps perspective franchisees make a wise investment in a quality franchise. We continue our educational goals by regularly updating our Franchisee Voice blog and by calling out abusive practices pursued by too many franchisors as well as corrosive myths propagated by the franchising industry that falsely portray franchising as a safe a secure path to business ownership.
Throughout our history, we have also thrown our support behind legislative efforts around the country that support franchisee rights, although our primary focus is supporting effective franchisee associations and helping them negotiate fair and balanced agreements and cultures. We also focus on recognizing franchise systems that embrace the AAFD’s Fair Franchising Standards and can earn our Fair Franchising Seal.
What Do the Next 25 Years of Franchising Hold?
We are proud of all that the AAFD has accomplished in the last 25 years, but our job is far from over. Aided by our efforts, there is a growing trend of franchisees actively working to protect their interests through franchisee associations. There is also greater assurance that franchisors owe a duty to act in good faith in their treatment of franchisees, and protected territories are now are a part of most franchise agreements
But challenges (old and new) remain, as well as new opportunities. Today, we are seeing more and more franchisors abusing their ability to dictate suppliers, and franchisors continue to push the envelope in controlling their franchise networks. As predicted twenty-five years ago by AAFD Chairman, Robert Purvin, in his book The Franchise Fraud, franchisors frequently have crossed the line of respecting a franchisee as an independent business owner. Franchisors are now facing the threat from the US Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board of being labeled a joint employer of their franchisees’ employees. While franchisees share opposition to being labeled as joint employers, the AAFD sees this threat as a valuable opportunity for franchise owners to claw back their ownership and control of their franchised businesses to remove the threat.
Over the next 25 years, we will continue to promote the Fair Franchising Standards and Total Quality Franchising. Our goal remains to create an AAFD Trademark Chapter for every single franchise in America.
Come Celebrate a Quarter Century of Total Quality Franchising With Us
The occasion of our 25th anniversary prompted us to revive our Franchisee Leadership Summit and annual conference, an event that we haven’t held since the Great Recession. Appropriately, the theme of the conference is Total Quality Franchising: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow. All of our members, as well as any franchisee interested in the future of collaborative franchising cultures is welcome to join us April 30 – Mary 3rd, 2017 for three days of learning, networking, celebration, and creating positive change in the franchising industry. Visit www.AAFD.org/Conference to see the program schedule and to register.
We thank you for your support of the AAFD, whether you are an old friend of a new ally. Together, we will make Total Quality Franchising a reality, one franchise system at a time.