Franchise Council of Australia
Delivering a strong framework for franchising
By Mary Aldred, CEO, Franchise Council of Australia
Representing our members, raising concerns, reflecting real life business challenges and responding to member questions about the national Franchising Taskforce have been the priority for the Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) over the past 12 months.
Franchising is a popular business model and makes a significant contribution to the Australian economy. There are approximately 1,344 franchise brands in Australia, providing employment for more than 598,000 people and contributing more than $184 billion annually to the national economy.
The role of the FCA
The Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) is the peak body for the franchise sector in Australia and covers a range of organisations and individuals, including franchisors, franchisees, professional advisers and suppliers. The FCA is committed to building a strong franchising culture that upholds standards and looks to meeting compliance obligations as a minimum standard – always striving for best practice in the franchise relationship and business conduct.
2019 was a year of focused review and advocacy activity for the FCA, with a determination to support members, many of whom are small businesses, and to further underpin franchising as the preferred model for small business success. The FCA is determined to set an industry benchmark where our members lead the way. Better regulation, not more regulation, and a proactive franchising sector working to set the standard is the best way forward.
Running any small business is tough work: Red tape, energy prices, rising rental and overhead costs and the complexity of industrial relations. I’m listening to what members are telling me, and the FCA is advocating to government on their behalf.
Advocacy and engagement
The Australian Government established an inter-agency Franchising Taskforce in 2019 to consider the recommendations from a 2018 Parliamentary Inquiry into the Australian Franchising Code of Conduct, which is the mandatory code that governs franchising in Australia. The FCA has been actively working with the Taskforce to ensure any potential regulatory changes reflect the need for Code compliance, regulatory enforcement, sustainable business operations, and improved access to education, information and support for franchisees. The FCA has implemented reform, put forward member driven, evidence-based and constructive policy solutions to the Franchising Taskforce, and we are confident that we will see a sensible regulatory response in 2020.
Best practice in franchising
The FCA has worked hard and introduced real changes over the last 12 months. We will continue to introduce real reform over the coming months through our new member standards. The revised standards will be supported by a set of new guidelines to clarify existing obligations and provide a reference point for day-to-day operations of a franchised business.
Franchising is not operating in the same environment that it was 18 months ago, and it’s important that our strategic priorities reflect that reality. Based on member feedback about where to prioritise our attention and focus, the FCA has developed a new strategic plan that recognises the business world that we now operate in, as well as what we want it to be, and sets out the priorities members have talked to me about.
The new strategic plan, launched at the 2019 National Franchise Convention, sets out five key objectives:
- Strategic leadership, underpinning the FCA’s position as a relevant and effective peak business organisation and advocate
- Membership growth
- Increased revenue to deliver more for our members
- Stakeholder relations, creating robust dialogue, informative events and communication
- Member support and education, providing relevant and specialised training and education programs for our members.
The plan articulates already stated positions, to help build a compliant, sustainable and profitable sector. This includes:
- The development of a mandatory franchise systems register
- The provision of mandatory advice for potential franchisees
- Drafting and embedding new member standards, which we are doing right now
- Sector and issues-based research to help provide a fact-based response and profile on the sector and its key business issues
- Board governance reform and better engaging franchisees
Engaging with franchisees
To better engage franchisees, we have established an FCA Franchisee Advisory Committee, representing each Australian state and a broad range of franchising industries. Their thoughtful and experienced input has helped us in the development of the FCA’s new strategic plan, our submissions to the taskforce, and initiating support and resources that help our members address practical business pressures.
Revitalising regional communities
The FCA strongly believes that healthy businesses sustain healthy communities. If businesses struggle, communities struggle. Particularly in our regional towns. Our regions are undergoing major economic structural adjustment. With manufacturing, power stations and large industrial employers changing the way they operate, regional towns need local jobs and investment. That’s the thinking behind the FCA’s regional revitalisation initiative. It’s a way to provide jobs, investment and fill consumer gaps in towns, and grow franchising brands across Australia.
The FCA directly targeted 80 regional communities across Australia to engage in the initiative, after a pilot program in Hamilton, Western Victoria. We’ve now had a dozen local councils come back to us actively seeking to partner with franchise brands. FCA members like Chatime, Boost Juice, Cookies Australia, InXpress, Nandos, Bakers Delight, Poolwerx, Guttervac and First Class Financial Group have reached out to engage with the project.
Education and professional development
FCA members continue to derive value from the wide range of educational events provided by the FCA and its dedicated state chapter committees. These events are designed to address key business challenges and provide education on topics that are affecting small business and more specifically, franchising. In addition to these regular events, in 2019 a Western Australian State Conference was held and in August the FCA staged its first Multi-Unit Summit to provide multi-unit franchisees and franchisor executives with a unique opportunity to learn new ideas for running successful multi-unit operations. The annual National Franchise Convention (NFC) is the largest and most comprehensive professional development event on the Franchise Council of Australia’s annual calendar. Themed “Evolving in a New Landscape: Innovation and Transformation’’ in 2019, NFC delivered attendees with practical ideas and information to create sustained success in an ever-changing business landscape.
The FCA continues to deliver the Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) program, certifying the highest standards of quality training and education, and in 2019 was proud to present the CFE designation to a further 20 candidates who have completed the CFE education program.
Recognising the sector’s high achievers
In 2019, the MYOB FCA Excellence in Franchising Awards once again showcased dedicated and passionate people who make this sector so great, including franchisees, franchisors and support staff. The outstanding effort by the franchisees who took out the awards in 2019, and their contribution as successful small to medium business operators, shows the positive impact franchising can have on employment, the economy and community.
We are innovating and providing partnerships that give you better business support. And we’re resetting the franchise brand in Australia to ensure families see our sector as an employer of choice and an obvious business model to invest in. The FCA is committed to continuing to work with and on behalf of the franchising community to sustain and strengthen franchising in the year ahead.