Fly-In Back for More


Four years ago I attended my first fly-in. Today I’m preparing for my fourth.

“Fly where??”

That was my response when John Teza, CEO of Hand & Stone Massage, first suggested I tag along for the IFA’s Annual DC Fly-In. 

Think of it as an opportunity to network, he said, but more importantly, as an opportunity to get involved.

He was right. 

I learned a lot that first trip, and not just that I should have worn more comfortable shoes. 

I learned about the broader franchise community, what they were up against, and what they were worried about; That Members and their aides were receptive and wanted to help, but that being a policymaker alone didn’t make them automatically familiar with our concerns. 

They were listening, and so it was incumbent on us to help them understand. I also learned that wonky explanations were not going to help us do that. 

I learned that when a bunch of IFA members get together in a Member’s office, we cease to be individual franchisors, franchisees, and suppliers– We become a team. 

And, believe it or not, that experience gave me a deeper appreciation of our democracy, and a powerful sense of our role in it. 

That feeling I came home with from my first fly-in is the same I take with me as I prepare for my fourth. 

Here are 3 reasons why you should show up, if not to this this fly-in, then the next:

  1. Learning. We all believe in franchising as a model but coming to D.C. is a great way to learn about the state of franchising as a model– to hear what’s on the minds of industry leaders, and learn what impact policymakers and the laws they pass have on our businesses.
  2. Networking. This is an opportunity to meet franchisors, franchisees, and suppliers, from your state and beyond. You’ll get to meet some new people, not just because you’re in the same room, but because you’ll be walking the halls of Congress with them. And, maybe joining them for a happy hour here or there, too. 
  3. Advocating. This is where we get to make our voice heard. We have power when we all come together to share stories from our community. And, it is this power that is not just an opportunity, but is a responsibility. If we expect our representatives to make informed decisions, we have to inform them.

With IFA, I realized I could get involved – even as a supplier– and make an impact. The more fly-ins I attended, the more conversations I had, and the more confident I became when speaking up on issues I saw and didn’t feel were right – like outdated labor regulations that are blocking access to education for millions of frontline workers.

Today, companies who make brand specific learning materials available to workers off the clock are taking a risk – and that means many workers are left on their own. They have to figure it out on the go, often in their own time; investing their own money on learning that may go uncredentialed, building skills that may go unrecognized, and upskilling for jobs they won’t be seen as qualified for.  And employers, barred from investing more in their people, won’t be able to offer solutions and won’t know how qualified, or how dedicated, their workforce is.

It inspired me to take action, and I am excited about the work Rep. Ashley Hinson (IA-01) has done on the Flexibility for Workers Education Act, and hopeful about its potential to expand opportunities for anyone looking to unlock their full potential.  

Hinson’s bill, with IFA support, would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and bring it into this future of work moment. It would change a law that restricts workers' ability to learn, which was passed in 1938, and make it so that employees in 2022 have the right to access training, upskilling and reskilling opportunities wherever, whenever. This change will level the playing field for over 80 million workers that currently can not access the same learning opportunities – and it would make it more possible for employers, especially across franchising, to invest in innovative technologies, resources, and opportunities to level up workers at all corners of their workforce.

It’s huge – for workers and for franchising. It’s an accomplishment I could not have imagined four years ago, and it’s proof that when IFA members lean in, good things happen.

Each fly-in brings us back to the Hill and back to the work we can do together.

So let’s get back to it.  

See you in September!