Just 10 days into the new administration, some of the biggest franchise operators in the U.S. say they’re more optimistic about President Donald Trump than they were when President Obama was in the White House.
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“We're early, a little early, right, but we're optimistic…it's more of a business-minded administration that thinks about business and small business,” said Mike Rotondo, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café, during an interview with FOX Business. Rotondo is among over 300 franchise brands that are convening at the International Franchise Association’s annual convention in Las Vegas, Nevada this week.
They also approve of Trump’s Labor Secretary pick, fellow franchisor and CEO of CKE Restaurants, Andy Puzder, saying he knows what small businesses need because he runs thousands of them. “He understands the nuances of running a restaurant and a franchise business,” Heather Neary, president of soft pretzel chain Auntie Anne’s, told FOX Business.
Meanwhile Srini Kumar, CEO of CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, says he’s a “big fan” of what Puzder has done with CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s.
Puzder isn’t just getting approval from executives at the top – franchise owners and operators also approve. David Barr owns several franchise locations including popular fast-food joints KFC and Taco Bell, which are part of Yum Brands (YUM). He tells FOX Business Puzder will be good for workers: “being pro-business is also being pro-job, which ultimately is for the little guy and I think that's exactly what Andy will do”.
Franchising is the largest job-creating machine in the U.S. economy. According to the International Franchise Association’s Economic Outlook report, the industry will add 250,000 new jobs in 2017. David McKinnon, vice chairman of the IFA’s Franchise Education and Research Foundation, says if Trump follows through on his policy proposals it’ll be a good year for business. “If promises are kept and we keep on this trajectory, we can expect a very good year and a very good future for franchising,” he tells FOX Business.
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Some executives say regulations and policies implemented in the Obama era like overtime pay, the Affordable Care Act and Joint Employer Liability ended up being bad for business and workers. Tariq Farid, CEO of Edible Arrangements, told FOX Business, “what the previous administration missed out on was not really having everybody at the table, not having small-business people at the table.”
Yum Brands’ Barr added, “I think there's been a lot of regulations over the last eight years where employees have been damaged.”
John Teza, chief development officer at Corner Bakery, on the other hand, says regulations were tough but didn’t prevent the industry from achieving growth, telling FOX Business: “The prior administration introduced some really tough stuff but the franchise industry has continued to grow and those are good things.”