Own Your History, Transform the Present | International Franchise Association

Own Your History, Transform the Present


FAN of the Year explains how franchisees make the world go ‘round.


By Tamra Kennedy


Earlier this year, it was my great honor to receive the Franchise Action Network’s FAN of the Year Award. In between making tacos, I spent much of 2017 saying YES when asked to step up and represent franchising. I wrote letters, submitted articles and op-eds, gave speeches, made TV appearances, visited the White House and even testified before Congress. Why? Because when you are asked to give back to what has given you so much, you answer the call.


We can do more

As an IFA Board member, I take seriously the responsibility that comes with helping make clear the mission of this world-class organization: To protect, enhance, and promote franchising. It’s an honor to collaborate with industry leaders from all business segments and backgrounds, from the giants to the newcomers, and really educate about  franchising. 

As a franchisee, I feel qualified to ask for your commitment to get involved with IFA. Franchisees live the mission of IFA every day in our businesses. We live the franchise story every morning when we unlock the doors. But I am here to say, that may not be enough. We can do more.



As a small, multi-unit franchisee, I put 100 percent into my business; every nickel, every ounce of energy, and all of my family’s hopes and dreams. All in. For years, I kept my head down, working away in our business and hoping that whatever new regulation or rule imposed on our company wouldn’t set us back too far - we would cut back somewhere to make up for it. What kind of business plan is that!


"Advocacy is now part of my business plan."


Your franchise business is worth protecting against those policy makers that either don’t understand what you have risked or those that would use legislation to peel away what you have earned. Advocacy is now part of my business plan – I call it Legacy Insurance.

If you shake your head in disbelief when you see or hear some new rule aimed at franchising that will make your business less successful, it’s time to engage in the political conversation. IFA has the tools and the team to get you started and keep you connected with grassroots efforts to get involved within your state. Our Franchisee Forum represents the collective voice used to amplify the impact of legislation on the franchisee’s business model. Let’s turn up the volume together.


"Franchisees learn by listening, lead by doing and grow by giving back. If you are searching for answers to your franchising question, IFA beats Google, hands down."


Learn from, help peers

At any IFA event you will find direct competitors sharing a stage and offering best practices to all who will listen. Franchisees, franchisors and suppliers openly helping each other. Too cool!  Its strikingly odd - and magical - to see a community of experts freely share experiences and ideas without giving a second thought to who might leverage the takeaways. It can seem counterintuitive to pony up to a roundtable and lay your soul bare in search of that one good idea for hiring a great manager, but it happens at every event. Even more amazing? Someone always gives you an answer.

Franchisees learn by listening, lead by doing and grow by giving back. If you are searching for answers to your franchising question, IFA beats Google, hands down.


Tell your story

Trust me when I say  only you can tell your story. It’s worth telling. I have visited members of Congress every September for five years now as a member of the Minnesota delegation. Team IFA prepares each state delegation with background information about current issues to discuss during the appointments. At these meetings, franchisees are always encouraged to share how legislation affects their business. It’s powerful stuff, and I witnessed such stories make a difference this year when legislators amended the tax-cut plan  at the 11th hour to more fully represent the interests of Sub-S corporations, partnerships and LLCs -- entities that might otherwise have been overlooked had franchisees not worked with IFA leadership to tell our story!

It’s a good time to be involved in franchising. THEY SAY: The economy is finally growing. WE SAY: You’re welcome. As an industry, franchising has been pulling the curve up well before the country’s economic engines started firing on all cylinders. THEY SAY: Who will meet the FutureConsumer’s demand for variety and choice in the marketplace? WE SAY: Look no further. Franchising lives on Mainstreet, on the corner of Invention and Execution. THEY SAY: Where will tomorrow’s leaders come from? WE SAY: Check your history. Thousands of today’s business and community leaders got their start at a franchise.

Franchisees, in my humble opinion, have the best role in franchising. We are dream makers. We partner with a good idea and give it life. Add another chapter to your success story and join the franchisee Fran-mily at IFA today!


Tamra Kennedy is a multi-unit franchise owner of Taco John’s and Vice Chair of IFA’s Franchisee Forum. At IFA 2018 in February, Kennedy received the FAN of the Year award from the Franchise Action Network for her work advocating for the franchise business model. Learn more about Taco John’s at franchise.org/taco-johns-international-franchise.