As part of its annual Franchise Legal Players issue, 1851 profiled the top franchise attorneys in the field to shine a spotlight on the work they do for the franchise industry.
1851: Tell us about your background and your firm.
Kelsie Ackman, Vice President of Franchise Development and General Counsel at College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk & Moving: I began my career at College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving in the fall of 2015 after spending three years in general litigation and transactional law in mid-size law firms in both Indiana and Florida. I obtained my Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Indiana University and also received an honorary Business degree in the Liberal Arts and Management Program with minors in Spanish and Psychology. I attended Indiana University Maurer School of Law as part of their inaugural direct admit program, where I graduated with honors. When I joined College Hunks, I built the in-house legal department from ground up in the time I’ve been here. I am extremely passionate about finding successful franchise partners who are a fit for our brand, both culturally and operationally.
College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk & Moving is a moving and junk removal franchise, and we serve both residential and commercial customers. Our business started in 2003, and we began franchising in 2006. Our franchise system has more than doubled in size since 2010 and has experienced 500 percent systemwide growth since 2013. We have 110 franchise owners in the U.S. and Canada and plan to double in the next three years.
1851: What are some must-ask questions when franchisors and franchisees are vetting potential franchise attorneys?
Ackman: How long have you been practicing franchise law? What is your relationship like with other franchisee/franchisor attorneys? Are you a member of IFA? Do you have your CFE? Do you prefer arbitration or litigation?
1851: In broad terms, do you have a particular case that stands out to you as an industry learning experience?
Ackman: The McDonald's case regarding joint employer has been the one I’ve kept my eye on so that I can advise my company according to legal and operational best practices.
1851: What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Ackman: I love being not just a legal advisor to our company, but also a business partner to my shareholders. I’m passionate about franchisee revenue, profits and satisfaction as those are critical to a sustainable franchise system. It also eliminates most litigation with franchisees if you are focused on making them successful. It’s rewarding to watch both employees at headquarters and franchise owners around the world make their dreams come true all by working for a brand we believe in that gives so much back to the community and people around the globe.
1851: What are your top concerns for the franchise industry in the next year?
- Increased minimum wage. The labor market in the service industry is tight to begin with; therefore, increasing the minimum wage will significantly cut into franchise owners’ margins.
- Joint employer. Keeping the standard as it has been for years is critical to preserving the franchise model
- Recession. Franchise concepts are hit hard during a recession, both on franchise development and at the local level
1851: What are you most optimistic about in the franchise industry in the next year?
Ackman: The sheer growth and development of franchise brands. It’s a booming industry and I can’t wait to see how many more new concepts open up over the next year.