David Barr, first chairman of the International Franchise Association on operating as a franchisor, franchisee and a supplier within the franchise industry
Tell me something about your background
David Barr: I characterize myself as a finance person, turned operator, turned strategist. I attended university at the University of Virginia and then began my career at Price Waterhouse in 1986. After four years, I left public accounting and joined Pizza Hut in the corporate finance group. While at Pizza Hut, I learned restaurant operations, marketing and human resources. In 1994, I became the CFO and subsequently the CEO of Great American Cookies, a franchisor and operator of mall-based cookie stores. In 1998, on behalf of its shareholders, I sold Great American Cookies and since that time I have focused on two simultaneous career paths: 1) as initially a franchisee and more recently as a franchisor, investing my own capital in growth companies, and 2) representing private equity firms with their portfolio companies by sitting on board of directors of consumer-facing businesses in franchising, restaurants, and jewelry.
How would you describe your role within the IFA?
David Barr: For 2019, I am honored to have been elected to be the chairman of the International Franchise Association (IFA). The chairman is a volunteer position, elected by the board of directors for one year. As chairman, my role is to a) liaison between the CEO, the IFA staff, and the board of directors, b) ensure strategic priorities are being addressed, c) interact with key franchisor, franchisee and supplier constituents, and d) at times, be the face of franchising with government officials or the press.
To what extent is this role informed by your own franchising experience?
David Barr: As chairman of IFA, I am the first chairman that has been a franchisor, franchisee and a supplier in the franchise industry while serving as the chair. I often say that I am all things franchising. This plurality of roles provides me with a unique perspective on franchising. Ultimately, I am in love with the franchising business model that allows entrepreneurs and small business owners to be married with proven processes and great brands of franchisors. Through the franchise business model, many businesses have achieved success, jobs have been created, lives have been changed and communities have been positively impacted.
How varied are your franchising and business responsibilities?
David Barr: Currently, I am a franchisor through my investments in or through my board seats of Capriotti’s Sandwich Shops, Inc, BrightStar Care, Lash lounge, CityRow, TITLE Boxing Club, and Your Pie. I am a franchisee of KFC, Taco Bell, and Capriotti’s. I am a supplier through serving as managing director of Franworth, which I co-founded with John Rotche, to provide intellectual and financial capital to accelerate the growth of small franchisors.