Q&A with David Barr

People, News & Events

MTD Restaurants Chairman David Barr will become the new IFA Chair at the end of the 2019 IFA Annual Convention in Las Vegas. He is taking the gavel from 2018 IFA Chair Liam Brown, President and Managing Director of Europe for Marriott International. Barr was first elected to the IFA Board of Directors in 2011 and has served on IFA’s Finance Committee, Convention Committee, Nominating
Committee and Franchisee Forum. He was elected to a leadership position on the IFA Executive Committee in 2016 and has served as 1st Vice Chair, 2nd Vice Chair and Secretary.

Barr invests in and sits on the board of directors of various franchise and non-franchise companies, both internationally and domestically. These include PMTD Restaurants LLC (franchisee of KFC, Taco Bell and Capriotti’s restaurants), Franworth (investments in Lash Lounge, Spavia, CityRow and Sweetwaters Coffee), Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, Inc., BrightStar Care, TITLE Boxing Clubs International, LLC and Domino’s Pizza – China. Barr also sits on the board of directors of various non-franchise companies in the restaurant and jewelry sectors.

Barr spoke with Franchising World about his priorities for IFA in 2019 while serving as IFA Chair and his views on the top issues facing franchising.

Q: What do you see as the most important issues for franchising in 2019?

A: The most critical issues facing the franchise industry are legislative and regulatory in nature. The biggest existential threat to franchising remains the defining franchisors as joint employers with franchisees. If this were to occur, I do not believe it will be beneficial to franchisors or franchisees. As a franchisee of a variety of brands, I value my ability to be an entrepreneur and establish the culture, compensation policies, and management goals of my organization. We named our company PMTD Restaurants (which stands for People Make the Difference) because we fundamentally believe that people are the No. 1 asset and point of difference in retailing. My ability to establish this culture could be at risk under an expanded joint employer definition, and ultimately bad for franchisees and those
they employ.

Q: What are your main priorities for the association in 2019?

A: I envision two areas of priorities. First, IFA will prioritize and devote its energies to all things franchising. That is, the association will address all threats to the franchise business model – whether from policy and regulatory boards such as the National Labor Relations Board, or legislative matters such as discriminatory laws passed by states and cities. This will also include accounting and tax matters, such as the recent clarification of intangible accounting for franchisee fees. IFA needs to take the lead on issues that directly relate to franchising. Second, IFA will strategically plan for future needs and threats. Specifically, all of us at IFA need to be sure we are not just speaking to ourselves but finding new ways to connect with the broader business and government communities. This is necessary because others, who often do not understand the franchise business model, impact the daily operations of franchisors, franchisees and suppliers.  

Q: What is your leadership style and how has it best served your team?

A: My leadership style is to ask the difficult questions so that everyone has the same data. I believe in most cases – so long as there are no ulterior motives in play – if individuals are reviewing the same data, then over 90 percent of the time, they will make the same decision. Thus, difficult questions result in the sharing of relevant data, which results in alignment. When everyone on a team sees eye-to-eye and is fueled with passion (like at IFA), then great results can be achieved.

Q: How can we convince leaders in government to help protect the franchise business model?

A: The franchising community brings together a wide range of industries, comprised of franchisors, franchisees and suppliers. To appropriately tell the story of franchising, all constituents need to get actively involved. Franchising has provided growth opportunities for many of us and, as a result, each of us should dedicate ourselves to find time to protect the franchise business model. I encourage everyone in the industry to become involved. A great way to start is by attending the IFA Convention in February, the Franchise Action Network (FAN) Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. in September, and other educational meetings throughout the year.

Q: What are two fun facts about you personally?

A: First, I coached and held leadership positions in youth sports (baseball, soccer, basketball, and lacrosse) for over 12 straight years, coaching more than 500 boys and young men, and hopefully making a positive impact on their lives. Secondly, both of my sons (Ryan, 26, and Taylor, 24) are involved in the consumer and franchising sector independently from me. Ryan works for Garnett Station Partners, a private equity firm that invests in franchisors and franchisees. Taylor works in the Consumer and Restaurant Group for Jeffries, a leading investment bank providing sell-side, buy-side and advisory services. This results in enjoyable banter about “franchising fun facts” when we are together.