Q) What is Advocacy Day?
At Restaurant Advocacy Day, restaurant owners and managers from around the state head to the state Capitol in groups to talk to lawmakers about important legislative issues. We tell lawmakers our side of the story, the differences we make in our communities and how their decisions impact our business, our employees and our customers.
Q) What does the day entail?
We start the day with a briefing session, important speakers and lunch. After lunch, we head to the Capitol in small groups to talk to our legislators in pre-set meetings. After we’re done with our meetings, we all join back together for a fun cocktail hour.
Q) Wisconsin is currently controlled by a party I support. Do I still need to lobby my legislators?
Absolutely. Talking to legislators during the good times (and the not so good times) helps develop your relationship with them. It helps lawmakers understand how their decisions impact you and your community. It helps them remember to fight for your position when unfavorable issues come up in the future.
Q) I can’t afford to take a day away from my business. Is it really that important that I attend?
Yes, it’s very important to attend. Trying to influence legislation IS part of your business. Think of Restaurant Advocacy Day as a 1-day investment in your business, where you get to have a say on issues that affect your bottom line.
Q) What can I accomplish face-to-face that I can’t do on the telephone?
Calling your legislator is actually more effective once they’ve met you face-to-face. When you speak in person, you are able to convey many things that a phone conversation simply cannot. Plus, when you’re looking an elected official in the eye, you know you are going to get a real answer -- not a generic brush-off.
Q) How will I know what to say to my legislators?
WRA carefully plans the day so you are fully briefed on the issues before you arrive to your legislative visits. You’ll have time beforehand to ask questions. And you’ll receive a complete set of handouts to reference, as you like.
The meetings are generally casual in nature – they will simply be conversations to share examples from your business. The best quality you bring to these meetings is just to be yourself, even if you’re nervous. You’re the expert on your own business, and that is what we want legislators to hear about.
Q) I’m a shy person. Do I have to talk?
The visits themselves take place in a group, so you won’t be alone when you meet with your elected officials. Just being there helps to demonstrate the strength and breadth of our industry. If you’re more comfortable having a fellow restaurateur talk on your behalf while you’re there, that’s fine. But, remember, you know your business the best. And you know better than anyone else how unfavorable legislation will harm your business and our industry.
Q) What if I don’t know anyone? I don’t want to feel like an outsider.
By coming to Restaurant Advocacy Day you become a face of our industry, and a face for small business. This is our day, when the real people of the industry come together. First time attendees are made to feel welcome, and you’ll be able to spend time with colleagues from your own area, as well as across the state.
Q) The issues don’t really affect my business, do they?
We only talk to legislators about issues that impact restaurant businesses in an important way. In the past, we have been able to make a difference on issues like the minimum wage, credit card fees and liability, and new taxes on small businesses. These issues affect every small business, and together we can protect our ability to prosper.