More than 400 McDonald’s franchisees nationwide said they wanted to create an independent operators association, during a meeting in Tampa co-hosted by Blake Casper, CEO and chairman of Caspers Company.
The franchisees want to improve profit and cash flow at their restaurants, according to the Wall Street Journal, one of several publications to report on the Oct. 10 meeting.
The group, dubbed the National Owners Association, wants “to work with McDonald’s to positively impact the System for the benefit of the Franchise Owners, our employees, customers, the Company and ultimately the shareholders,” a letter posted on its website said.
During the meeting, which took place at Caspers Company headquarters, Blake Casper “shared his thoughts on the state of the business and the relationship including reminding us all what innovation is and isn’t working,” the letter said.
St. Pete Catalyst asked Casper for specifics, but a spokesman declined to comment.
Caspers Company has 53 local restaurants and $173 million in 2017 revenue according to the Tampa Bay Business Journal Book of Lists.
McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) welcomes a “constructive, collaborative dialogue with franchisees,” but also declined to comment on specifics, CNBC reported.
Franchisees operate about 95 percent of the 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States. The group at the Tampa meeting represented about one-quarter of the franchisees, CNBC said.
The group is concerned that sales are not keeping pace with the cost of remodeling that’s been specified by McDonald’s executives, the Wall Street Journal said. McDonald’s said last year it would help cover those costs, including adding self-service kiosks.
None of the reports on the meeting cited wage concerns specifically. McDonald’s said in 2015 it would raise the minimum wage for employees of company-owned restaurants.
In addition to Casper, other speakers included Mark Salebra, another McDonald’s franchisee in Florida; Carmen Caruso, a Chicago-based attorney who specialize in franchising; and John Kujawa, who recently retired as McDonald’s U.S. vice president of franchising, Restaurant Business reported.
At the end of the Tampa meeting, the group was asked if they wanted or needed a self-funded advocacy group. “This was answered with a resounding yes from all attendees,” the letter said.
The group’s next meeting will be Dec. 12 in Dallas.
Other restaurant chains, including Wendy’s, Burger King, Subway and Jack in the Box already have independent associations, but the National Owners Association may be the first such association in McDonald’s history, Restaurant Business said.
It’s a “sea change” at the McDonald’s system, said Robert Purvin, CEO of the American Association of Franchisees and Dealers, a group that promotes independent franchise associations.