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RED BANK, N.J. – Marks & Klein law firm has started two franchise associations, in New Jersey and Illinois, to support and promote the needs of franchisors and franchisees.
Justin Klein said he is excited to bring franchisors, franchisees and suppliers together at a local and regional level, to discuss, network and educate members. “After discussing with my staff and clients what I felt was lacking in our two locations, I did research for about a year. Others in our area had the same comments, questions and concerns about the lack of resources available.”
Klein said that was when the firm came up with the idea of starting the Garden State Franchise Association in New Jersey and the Northern Illinois Franchise Association in Chicago. Their mission is to bring professionals together to enhance franchising, to promote and support the needs of franchisors and franchisees through advocacy efforts, and through educational programs and networking events. The groups also plan to promote and support legislation and governmental action favorable to franchisors and franchisees.
The Illinois organization, headed by partner Andrew Bleiman, has already conducted two meetings, each with approximately 30 people in attendance. He said All Points Public Relations has been a big part of their efforts. Bleiman feels there are companies in the state that are looking to franchise their businesses, and franchisees that need help with issues in running their operations. “I don’t know if we will make a difference, but I think it’s worth getting people together to collaborate.”
The Chicago attorney said he felt the first two events were well-received. They have had considerable positive feedback from those who attended. “The key thing is to come up with excellent programming that franchisees and franchisors have in common. They need to have information that is useful to them. It’s not geared toward providing content for suppliers,” he said.
Bleiman felt suppliers who attended had some interesting perspectives, since they have worked with many different systems, dealt with rising costs, labor, commodities, and insurance. “They talked candidly about things they had experience in.” Bleiman explained how a multi-unit franchisee talked about how he has a protocol to reduce energy costs.
The Garden State Franchisee Association has its first meeting scheduled for March 6. “We have a hundred people registered for it. It includes attorneys, accountants, franchisors, franchisees, perspective franchisees and franchisors, suppliers in franchising, financial services people. It’s a really good mix of people.”
The luncheon meeting program will include a panel discussion with Eric Casaburi, founder and CEO of Petro Fitness, and Michael Manzo, a Jersey Mike’s Subs veteran “who came up through the system wearing the apron.” Supplier James R. Buckley, The Buckley Group, will also participate as an expert in the digital advertising sector. Justin Klein will be the moderator.
So, will the International Franchise Association be involved? Klein said no. “We think there is a need for on-the-ground information that can be found from locals. That’s hard to achieve through a national organization.”
Although Klein has been known as a litigator in the community, he said he enjoys seeing successful companies and watching franchisees succeed. “It’s exciting,” he exclaimed. He feels the people who are out front on the cutting edge are educating people on what really works in the industry. “They will be the ones shaping the future of franchising,” he said.
The New Jersey attorney explained, “A new culture of franchising is starting now. People who are doing things the way they did it twenty years ago are finding themselves in situations where they are being sued by their franchisees. They are dealing with lawyers from the old school, who think the franchisor is always right and the franchisee is always wrong. The way it was done years ago is not the way it is being done today.”