The International Franchise Association board of directors has adopted recommendations to develop ways to strengthen franchise relations. The recommendations were offered by the IFA Franchise Relations Best Practices Task Force, which was formed in September 2012.

The Task Force worked with two groups, a franchisee working group and a franchisor working group, to develop and agree upon seven recommendations, all of which were adopted by the IFA board.

Ken Walker, former IFA chairman and former CEO of Driven Brands Inc., is chair of the franchisor working group, along with Joe Bourdow, senior advisor at Valpak, as vice chair.

The franchisee working group is chaired by Aziz Hashim (Popeyes, Checkers/Rally's Drive-In Restaurants Inc. and PetValu). Saunda Kitchen, IFA Franchisee forum chair and Mr. Rooter franchisee, serves as vice chair.

"These seven recommendations, including a newly-developed Statement of Guiding Principles and Summary of Franchise Offering Information, are historic in our industry, and are intended to provide better information to current and prospective franchisees," Hashim said in a news release.

The seven recommendations are:

1. Better education of prospective franchisees and ways to improve franchise disclosure.

The Task Force determined that better understanding and clarity is needed about key terms in franchise agreements at the outset of the relationship between franchisor and franchisee. A subcommittee is developing a new online course, due later this year, to better educate prospective franchisees about the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and terms in franchise agreements.

2. More education on franchise relations.

IFA will expand and increase its education programs and offerings, with more focus on franchise relations at its meetings, including the IFA Annual Convention, Legal Symposium and within Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) Programs.

3. IFA Code of Ethics, brand stewardship and alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

IFA is expanding its dispute resolution services and is committed to making these programs more readily available to IFA members. IFA has also re-vamped the existing Ombudsman site, ifaresolve.com, to improve resources and increase awareness of services.

4. Governance.

The IFA will increase efforts to recruit franchisee leaders to the IFA Franchisee Forum and to the IFA board of directors. Two franchisees, Saunda Kitchen (Mr. Rooter Plumbing) and Guillermo Perales (Popeyes, Golden Corral Buffet & Grills, Cici's, Burger King and Arby's) were elected to the IFA board on Sept. 16, bringing the total to eight, including Hashim, who will become chairman in 2016.

5. Communications.

IFA staff, Franchisee Forum members, as well as other committees are working to ensure that all IFA communications reflect the collective voice of franchisees and franchisors.

6. Research.

IFA engaged public opinion strategies to conduct research and focus groups with different segments of the franchising industry, including both members and non-members, to get their views and concerns about franchise relations issues. This research is being used to improve communications with members and external audiences, such as the media and policymakers.

7. Clarifying terms in franchise agreements.

The soard adopted a "Statement of Guiding Principles" and a "Summary of Franchise Offering Information/Profile" to provide more clarity and transparency regarding the terms in franchise agreements and the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). The "Statement of Guiding Principles" was approved at the IFA board of directors meeting in September. IFA is formatting the "Summary of Franchise Offering Information" on the IFA website, franchise.org

IFC CEO/president Steve Caldeira said the IFA is implementing a comprehensive and integrated communications plan to inform members about the recommendations and new tools that are available throughout the year.

Read more franchising news.

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