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The supplier forum: strengthening the association's firm standing. (Serving The Franchise Community).

The International Franchise Association

Mission: to protect, enhance and promote franchising.

Vision: to be the pre-eminent voiceand acknowledged leader for franchising worldwide.

It is no accident that both the mission and the vision of the International Franchise Association (IFA) speak of franchising in its broadest aspects. The structure of the IFA supports both IFA's mission and vision.

It has often been said that the association's structure is similar to a three-legged stool. Its three constituents each have their own respective organization or "forum," which collectively constitute the IFA as a whole. The Franchisor Forum represents franchisor members of IFA. The Franchisee Forum represents franchisee members of IFA. The Supplier Forum represents suppliers to the franchising community, although they are not specifically members of IFA.

Who Are They?

Members of the Supplier Forum include product and service providers to franchisors, franchisees and others involved in franchising. While the largest single constituency of Supplier Forum members consists of franchise attorneys, the membership also includes advertising, promotion and marketing companies, accountants, consultants, e-commerce providers, media, publishers, personnel firms, Internet and Web design and service firms, banks and financial institutions, communications companies and so on. The common link of all suppler members is the fact that, in one way or another, franchisors, franchisees and others involved in franchising are their customers or clients.

Many Supplier Forum members are significantly involved in the implementation, management and administration of franchise systems and, as such, have a particular appreciation and knowledge of franchising which comes from exposure to a number of different franchise programs. This exposure allows many Supplier Forum members to bring a broader and more in-depth perspective to franchising than those who have traditionally been limited in their exposure to a single franchise system or market segment.

The current members of the advisory board of the Supplier Forum have had many years of experience in assisting franchisors. In addition, a particular effort has been made recently to expand the membership of the advisory board to include suppliers from new industry segments. For example, new members of the advisory board include e-commerce providers, intranet designers and small-firm attorneys. Further, representation on the current board includes members from the international franchise community, including Canada and New Zealand.

Recognizing the relevance of the Supplier Forum on franchising in general, and its importance to franchisors and franchisees, IFA, in its 2000 fiscal year, amended its by-laws to allow for the chair of the Supplier Forum (then known as the Council of Franchise Suppliers) to sit as an ex-officio voting member on the IFA board of directors and executive committee. The input of the Supplier Forum chair has been welcomed by the other members of the IFA executive committee and the board of directors and, in a similar manner, has completed the link necessary to allow the Supplier Forum members and its advisory board in particular to feel that the Supplier Forum now has meaningful opportunity to participate in the governance of IFA affairs.

A Seat on the Board

Further, commencing with the 2002 fiscal year, by reason of another by-laws amendment undertaken in 2001, IFA has allowed one of its permanent board of director seats to be filled by a Supplier Forum member. The Supplier Forum Advisory Board looks forward to having this position filled by a Supplier Forum member at IFA's 2002 Convention so that the Supplier Forum will continue to have enhanced participation in IFA governance.

The Supplier Forum members and its advisory board represent countless years of collective experience in franchising. With this commitment and experience to franchising, Supplier Forum members welcome the opportunity to network and to develop business relations with each other and with the members of IFA, namely franchisors and franchisees. Further, by having made the financial and time commitments necessary to be involved in IFA, and to support the IFA's mission and vision, the Supplier Forum members encourage the members of IFA, namely franchisors and franchisees, to utilize the services of Supplier Forum members whenever possible, rather than looking to other firms who may offer similar services or products, but who have not demonstrated a commitment to, nor a knowledge of, franchising in the same way.

Building the Structure

As part of the three-legged stool of IFA's franchising community, the Supplier Forum brings considerable value to the growth, credibility and reputation of franchising. Many of IFA's Supplier Forum members are involved in IFA's annual convention in different capacities. For example, many of the seminars and plenary sessions involve Supplier Forum members. The Supplier Forum has established a sound reputation for developing two of the premier seminars and workshop programs at IFA's annual convention--the Supplier Forum "Best Practices" seminars and the Supplier Forum business roundtables.

Supplier Forum members show continuing leadership on CFE programs, IFA's annual legal symposium, preferred vendor programs and numerous other seminars and workshops. Its members are fully committed to enhance and bring added value to franchise systems and franchising in general.

Frank Zaid is a senior partner in the Toronto, Ontario office of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, Canadian Barristers and Solicitors. He served as general counsel to the Canadian Franchise Association from 1993-1999 and is currently chair of the IFA Supplier Forum and, as such, an ex-officio voting member of the IFA board of directors and executive committee. He can be reached at 416-862-6415, fax 416-862-6666, or
COPYRIGHT 2001 International Franchise Association
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Zaid, Frank
Publication:Franchising World
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2001
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