Frank J. Capaldo is chairman of the newly formed Coalition of Franchise Associations in Washington, D.C. Believed to be the first organization of its kind, the CFA brings together some of the restaurant industry’s oldest and biggest franchisee associations and licensee groups in other retail fields to share best practices and work to secure from federal, state and local lawmakers legislation and regulations intended to advance franchising. Among those that helped to launch the CFA are the franchisee associations of Burger King , Subway , Pizza Hut , Dunkin’ Donuts , Buffalo Wild Wings , Hardee’s  and 7-Eleven . Capaldo also heads the National Franchisee Association, or NFA, which represents Burger King franchise owners.
We can’t speak to the AFA agenda, but the CFA has several points of focus. The CFA will provide a forum for franchisee association leaders to collaborate and share best practices regarding association management. There will be franchising-related topics and issues that come up from time to time, but that is not the sole focus. The CFA will monitor and support legislation at the state and federal level that is beneficial to small business. Generally, we should be on the same side as franchisors regarding much of that legislation.
What’s the difference between your agenda and that of the International Franchisee Association?
The IFA is a big-tent organization that welcomes both franchisees and franchisors. The CFA as previously stated is designed by and for the benefit of franchisee association leaders. The CFA will work to help strengthen franchisee associations, develop more effective boards of directors, and coalesce to provide benefits and services to each associations’ individual members.
Will the CFA be at odds with the IFA or the AFA?
The CFA mission is to “leverage the collective strengths of franchisee associations for the benefit of the franchisee community.” The CFA has no agenda to have an adversarial relationship with any other existing group. The CFA will keep its focus on franchisee associations and working to help small-business people be successful in the context of franchising.
Why hasn’t such a group as yours been created in the past?
Although franchisees for years have needed the support of such an organization as the CFA, only recently have independent franchisee associations found independence and strength. Certainly franchisee associations have been around for many years, such as the AKFCF [Association of Kentucky Fried Chicken Franchisees], the NFA [which is 20 years old], and the IHFA [Independent Hardee’s Franchisee Association, which is 10 years old]. But as franchising has proliferated, so have the associations of franchisees. Understanding that the associations have had no singular place to go exclusive for them has created a void for the CFA to fill.
The CFA is not about bringing in adjacent members such as franchisors, the legal community or any of that. The CFA may however consider in the future an opportunity for vendors to participate as long as it is not detrimental to any individual association or brand.
Roughly how many franchisees do the charter member associations represent?
There are approximately 20,000 operators representing 1.7 million employees at this time based on the number of associations who have participated over the last year.
What benefits does membership bring and who exactly are the beneficiaries?
The board has discussed specific benefits, products and services that can be made available to all members of the affiliated associations. It is premature to discuss these specifically, but there are a couple of proposals already on the agenda for the next board of directors meeting.
In addition, the CFA has been looking at and received preliminary information regarding the monitoring of legislation at the state and local levels which has already been shared with several associations’ members. We will continue to look at education and training initiatives as well as purchasing initiatives as a group that would serve to benefit both the individual association as well as its members.