The FaegreBD Franchise Summit in Review with Founder Brian Schnell

Faegre Baker Daniels law firm just celebrated their 10th annual FaegreBD Franchise Summit in Minneapolis last week. For those individuals in the franchise community that have never attended this event, it is definitely something I would recommend putting on your radar for 2016. While I was there, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Brian Schnell, partner at Faegre Baker Daniels and the founder of the Franchise Summit.

brian-schnell-partner-faegre-baker-daniels 540Q: How long have you been with Faegre Baker Daniels?
A: I started in 2005. In 2012, I went to BrightStar for a year and then came back in 2013.

Q: When did you start the Franchise Summit?
A: In 2006. It’s pretty exciting; this year we are celebrating our 10th anniversary.

Q: What were your original goals and aspirations for the event?
A: To bring franchisor executives together in a collaborative setting to talk about real-world challenges and opportunities that focus on best practices and proactive, results-oriented solutions.

Q: How large was the first event and what was the attendance this year?
A: Back in 2006, we had an attendance of 80. This year, we had over 150!

Q: How has the event changed over the years?
A: We have been extremely fortunate to have had the sitting International Franchise Association (IFA) chair as our keynote speaker for the last seven or eight summits. We’re talking about folks like Steve Greenbaum, Dina Dwyer-Owens, Steve Joyce, Ken Walker, Jack Earle, Steve Romaniello and, this year, Melanie Bergeron. We also have had tremendous success with our outside keynotes, like Gerry O’Brion and Lt. Col. Waldo Waldman, who delivered big-time this year.

But—by far—the biggest change has been getting franchisees involved. We started this two years ago; it makes the conversations much richer and deeper. Our attendees hear first-hand from both franchisor and franchisee leaders, folks with passion, commitment, authenticity and leadership.

Q: Do you have additional things you would like to incorporate in the future?
A: Each year, we try to incorporate new things in order to never make the event the same two years in a row. We always focus on bringing the very best franchisor and franchisee leaders together for meaningful conversations that will make a difference in franchising.

Q: What are the greatest challenges you see facing the franchise industry?
A: From an attorney’s perspective, it’s continuing to find ways for the right people to have the right conversations to tackle the real-world challenges facing franchisors and franchisees. Too often, I see conversations where folks are more interested in protecting their positions than in finding meaningful solutions through effective collaboration.

Q: What was the reason that you gravitated to doing franchise law?
A: Blind, dumb luck. I started my career in 1987. I knew I didn’t want to be a litigator. The firm that I was working for had represented Dairy Queen for years and, in 1987, IDQ acquired the Orange Julius system. My very first project as a lawyer was working on the Orange Julius franchise disclosure document (FDD) post acquisition. Since then, I have never looked back. I’ve spent my entire professional career in franchising and am more passionate about franchising than ever before.

Q: During one of the sessions, Aziz Hashim, CEO of NRD Holdings talked about collaboration. What does collaboration mean to you?
A: Gettting the right people to have the right conversations with a focus on improvement, listening, passion, authenticity, integrity and better outcomes.

If you would like information about the FaegreBD Franchise Summit, please contact Brian Schnell at or 612.766.7699.

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