Trade group laid off staff in 2020 but is now hiring again.
June 17, 2021
By William Ehart
Longtime senior staffer Matt Haller has been promoted to president and CEO of the International Franchise Association, a trade group challenged by industry economic woes and the cancellation of its meetings during the pandemic. He succeeds former CEO Robert Cresanti, who left at the end of March following the expiration of his contract.
Haller said IFA is on the rebound, with membership revenue re-approaching 2018 levels and its meetings business transitioning to a number of virtual events rather than just one large in-person gathering. IFA laid off a dozen staff last year, but Haller told CEO Update the group was now looking to hire nine new staff.
"We are coming back strong," Haller told CEO Update. "That's a testament to the tough decisions that were made at the beginning of the pandemic, and then the way that we really leaned in with a much leaner team over the last 18 months to create member value and member engagement in a virtual environment.
“And you quickly realize, ‘Why aren't we doing this all the time? Why are we focusing only on one big event a year, to use an example, when we can provide content and engagement in a virtual environment and create more opportunities for our members to engage, and meet them where they are, which is running franchise locations,’” he said.
IFA Board President Catherine Monson, CEO of FASTSIGNS International, announced the promotion in an email to IFA members June 17.
“Matt has been a key member of the IFA team for 10 years, building extensive relationships with all three segments of the IFA membership: franchisors, franchisees and suppliers,” Monson said. “In the months since Robert Cresanti announced his departure (in November), I have had the privilege of working with Matt on a weekly basis—along with the senior leadership team— developing strategic priorities.
“I have been impressed with his command of this business, how he has driven a thought process to engage key stakeholders inside and outside the membership, and kept command focus on hitting milestones,” Monson said.
Monson also praised Haller’s advocacy during the pandemic, including making sure that franchise businesses were eligible for federal relief programs.
Haller joined IFA in 2010 as communications director, and later rose to vice president of public affairs, chief of staff to the CEO and senior vice president of public affairs. He was promoted to senior vice president of government relations and public affairs in 2017. Earlier in his career, Haller worked for the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.