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IFA’s Scott Lehr retires, plus more from our bloggers


From left: Longtime friends and mentors Doc Cohen and Don DeBolt with the retiring Scott Lehr.

“I’ve pretty much have done everything at IFA except being a lobbyist,” says Scott Lehr as he reflects on his nearly three decades with the International Franchise Association.

Hired in 1990 as director of advertising, Lehr had five more titles during the ensuing 29 years before retiring as executive vice president of development, marketing and conferences. But, like so many in franchising, Lehr can’t quit the industry just yet. “I’m still on as a consultant with the IFA,” he says, and as for what’s next, “The likelihood of me doing something in franchising is … very likely. It’s been a really rewarding experience for me. So I’m even looking at becoming a franchisee or investing in a franchisor.” What the IFA does has changed over the years, adapting to what Lehr calls “the evolution and sophistication of franchising.”

In 1993 came “probably one of the big seismic shifts” for the organization, he says. That was the year the IFA opened membership to franchisees. “It was not an easy decision,” says Lehr. “But it was absolutely the best thing we did for the industry.” Will he be at the IFA’s convention next year in Orlando? “What I’ve learned is, no one in franchising retires,” he says.

Grubhub Talks Data

Seth Priebatsch, head of enterprise restaurants at Grubhub, says Grubhub is trying to figure out how to “break the dysfunctional model” in the food delivery business, in which restaurant operators want to own the data that third-party delivery providers collect, but the third-party folks consider that their most valuable asset.

Speaking at the Food On Demand Conference, he described Grubhub’s recent partnership with Yum Brands as an exclusive deal, in which Yum restaurants such as Taco Bell and KFC use only Grubhub’s ordering platform and in turn Grubhub shares customer data with Yum and “similarly we make the best of our technology and build that into their channels.”

“This is the core crux at Grubhub,” he said, that the company is trying to wrestle with and has not yet resolved. There are two paths restaurants can take. One is to work with all delivery players, renting all players’ customers and playing each off of the other for better prices. “The whole point of Path A is to maintain leverage with all of them,” he said.

Path B, on the other hand, “for us is partnering very, very deeply in a branded channel and open marketplace scenario and building that owned customer asset.”

Tackling FDD Bloat

Franchise disclosure documents have gotten absolutely massive and complex, and some franchise attorneys want to do some major trimming. Peter Lagarias, a partner at Lagarias, Napell & Dillon, said he takes issue with the pages and pages of disclosures and cover-your-butt language that pepper almost every FDD. The language is designed to protect the brand from almost any scenario, but in the end, all those disclosures make for an almost useless contract. “What are we having the disclosure process for? It’s to tell people information that people can rely on,” said Lagarias. “My concern is that the franchise disclosure process with all these disclaimers has been turned into an item that they could work a fraud with, and I don’t think that should happen, period.” He’s watching a review of a FTC rule around the disclosures that is set for this year that would make those disclosures more readable.

CircusTrix Adds Defy

Defy is the newest franchise under the CircusTrix umbrella. The air sports park is aimed at older teens and young adults, with wallrunning, G-tramping, Ninja warrior courses, a high-wire slack line, a flying trapeze, aerial silks and more. CircusTrix started as an owned-and-operated business, but in 2017 it bought franchises Rockin’Jump and SkyZone, and now plans to re-brand more than 90 of its parks to Defy under a franchise model. It will cost $1.8 to $2.6 million to open a Defy park, and two are open already.

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