We interviewed Matt Haller, the Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs for the International Franchise Association. Read about the critical role that franchises play in supporting the American economy and greater community.
1. What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me includes promoting franchising to policy makers, the media and to prospective franchisees. I try and share the positive contributions that the franchising community brings to local communities all across America. Franchising is a uniquely accessible business model that allows people to go into business, create thousands of ownership opportunities, and give back to the communities in which they operate.
2. As someone who speaks to small business owners all the time, how would you describe the small business landscape in the US today?
I think that it is good, but it certainly could be better if the government got out of the way in many cases. There is a home for government regulation, but in many cases they have created gaps preventing prospective and existing business owners from getting access to the capital that they need to grow, creating more jobs and generating growth in the communities in which they operate.
3. What are some of the biggest problems that small business owners face?
Government regulations are at the top of the list for our members. I think that some of the other issues that they face, like access to capital, for example, are exacerbated by these regulations. Small businesses can struggle navigating one-size-fits-all regulations that are designed for large corporations. These can force small businesses to consolidate into larger businesses and this is not good for opportunity creation or moving people from the entry level to the middle class, which is really what franchising is all about. Franchising removes that barrier to entry and allows you to create a business that is uniquely accessible for Americans from all walks of life.
4. What are the advantages of opening a franchise?
Franchising allows you to open a business for yourself but not necessarily by yourself. It is a proven and structured model, where you have pooled resources at your disposal from both the franchisor and franchisees. You would not be able to get some of these benefits outside of the franchising model. There are also some costs, though, as it does not necessarily guarantee success. It is not for everybody. Someone that wants to take the plunge into small business ownership, but wants the comfort of the resources that a franchise will offer, such as the ability to network with other franchisees that are operating similar businesses, may prefer to go with a franchise.
5. When you look at the small business landscape, it is said that minority-owned businesses are going to become the majority in the next five to 10 years. How does this affect franchises and franchise owners?
According to the last US Census, 20% of US franchises and 14% of non-franchises are owned by minorities. Franchising has a good story to tell in regards to minority ownership of businesses, and I believe that his will continue to grow. The number of minority business owners that we are seeing speaks volumes to their potential as leaders across the small business landscape.
6. Franchises are small businesses. What role does the IFA play in supporting entrepreneurship and the growth of small business?
Our mission is to promote, protect and enhance franchising. We do so by promoting the business model itself as something for prospective entrepreneurs to consider. This can range from the expos that we hold across the country, to the conferences that we put on, to the information available on our website. In terms of protection, we are active in Washington, DC and all 50 states trying to advance or stop policies that would make it more difficult for prospective franchisees to get started, or existing owners to grow their businesses. To educate our audience, we communicate a lot about the best practices of franchising, how to become best-in-class owners and how to create better opportunities for people in the franchising community.
7. Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for an aspiring franchisor or franchisee?
There is no better substitute than research. Knowing what you’re getting into before taking that lunge is crucial. There are a lot of detections in place by the government and the transparency and information that franchisors are required to make available to prospective franchisees is tremendous, but it is up to the franchisees to go through all of those materials and consult legal advice.
From a franchisors side, the best thing they can do is get active with the IFA. The IFA is where most emerging brands come to meet people that have built successful franchise systems. There are 1,350 brands that are members of the IFA and every single one of those are willing to share their expertise with peers.