IFA Facilitative Ombudsman Program

IFA Facilitative Ombudsman Program 

When business disputes happen, the International Franchise Association Facilitative Ombudsman Program is here to help.

The International Franchise Association (IFA) Facilitative Ombudsman Program offers franchisees and franchisors the services of a confidential and neutral third-party to de-escalate disputes in an amicable and expeditious fashion. Any franchisee or franchisor—regardless of IFA membership—can contact the IFA ombudsman to confidentially share an issue of concern regarding a franchise relationship and coordinate a facilitated discussion with the counterparty.

To contact the IFA ombudsman, call 1-866-443-8255 or email ombudsman@franchise.org.


What is a facilitative ombudsman program?

A facilitative ombudsman program is a type of alternative dispute resolution that focuses on de-escalating tensions and supporting productive communication between franchisors and franchisees to find a solution that works for all parties.

Facilitative ombudsmen are trained in mediation and conflict resolution. The IFA ombudsman also has extensive experience in franchising policies and procedures to develop a plan for resolving the dispute that is fair and equitable while also keeping the respective rights and options of the franchisee and franchisor in mind.

Who should contact the Ombudsman?

Any franchisee or franchisor can contact the IFA ombudsman to discuss an issue or concern regarding the franchise relationship with an objective, third-party mediator. Often the initial conversation with the IFA ombudsman is spent identifying the root of the problem and discussing options. Subsequent conversations (to the extent needed) will focus on resolution without the need for litigation or arbitration.

If the dispute is not resolved with the IFA ombudsman, then the parties may request a referral to the IFA’s alternative dispute resolution panel or a mediator with franchise experience.

What are the costs?

There is no charge to engage the IFA ombudsman for the traditional franchise ombudsman program. The program is offered as a valuable service to the franchising community and is funded entirely by IFA. Franchisees and franchisors may join IFA by contacting IFA Vice President of Development and Member Services Paul Rocchio at PRocchio@franchise.org.

What can I expect if I contact the Ombudsman?

Franchisees and franchisors who contact the IFA ombudsman will speak with certified ombudsman with extensive franchise experience skilled in identifying suitable solutions for the involved parties. Those who engage the IFA ombudsman can expect privacy, confidentiality, diplomacy, respect, and a range of self-empowering de-escalatory measures to achieve a suitable resolution. The IFA ombudsman does not disclose any identifiable information regarding participants in the ombudsman program to IFA.

When should I contact the Ombudsman?

Engagement with the IFA ombudsman can be useful at any point in the life cycle of a dispute: in the early days of a conflict, as a last resort before litigation or arbitration, or following the conclusion of litigation or arbitration to help reframe the relationship. While the services of the IFA ombudsman may be useful at any stage of a conflict, relationships are most efficiently repaired as soon as tensions arise. We encourage interested parties to engage early to achieve an efficient redirection of the conflict.  

What can’t the Ombudsman do?

The IFA ombudsman program offers facilitated de-escalation of conflict. The IFA ombudsman program does not provide legal services or make business decisions on a party’s behalf.

Is my identity truly confidential?

All conversations with the IFA ombudsman are private and confidential. The IFA ombudsman adheres to the Ombudsman Association’s Code of Ethics (included below). It emphasizes the importance of maintaining all conversations in confidence unless threats of violence or harm are made.

Ombudsman’s Code of Ethics:

The IFA Ombudsman is a certified Ombudsman through the International Ombudsman Association, and all Ombudsman are recognized members. The program adheres to the Association’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

The Ombudsman, as a designated neutral third party, has the responsibility of maintaining strict confidentiality concerning matters that are brought to his / her attention unless given permission otherwise. The only exceptions, at the sole discretion of the Ombudsman, are where there appears to be a threat of serious harm. The Ombudsman must take all reasonable steps to protect any records and files pertaining to confidential discussions from inspection by all other persons. The Ombudsman should not testify in any formal judicial or administrative hearing about concerns brought to his / her attention.

When making recommendations, the Ombudsman has the responsibility to suggest actions or policies that will be equitable to all parties.