Regions respond enthusiastically to franchise opportunity

Mary Aldred | CEO | Franchise Council of Australia

Fostering a strong and diverse small business sector is a significant component of a sustainable local economic development strategy.

For many regional centres, slowing commercial investment has resulted in a shortfall in the range of retail and small business services and entrepreneurial opportunities.

To help address this, the Franchise Council of Australia began a campaign in 2019 to support regional revitalisation by highlighting franchises as an efficient, innovative tool to address service and small business ownership gaps.

The FCA sent letters of invitation to nearly 80 regional economic development officers across Australia and is now in discussion with a number of councils interested in attracting new franchised businesses.

At the same time, the FCA sent an email to members to ask if they were interested in setting up in specific regions and looking to identify potential franchisees and business operators.

The result was outstanding and the FCA is now organising introductions between franchise members and local government in several regions, on the path to become Australia’s foremost small business and franchise system matchmaker.

The regional councils have approached the FCA mindful that selective franchises which address identified service and small business gaps in their area will help create a more diverse business mix, new employment opportunities and core activity in the community.

Franchises offer the brand recognition, efficiency and economies of scale advantages of a chain store, while retaining the local economy and entrepreneurial benefits that are hallmarks of independent small businesses which help local economies strengthen and expand their base.

The franchise business model provides an organisational system and corporate support that lowers barriers to entry. Reducing these traditional obstacles may greatly enhance opportunities for many first-time entrepreneurs who traditionally lack adequate resources, access to capital, and extensive industry experience.

As CEO, I’m leading a small but focused FCA delegation in July meeting with regional economic development officers, councillors, local chambers of commerce and key regional landlords between the West Australian coast and northern New South Wales to discuss and introduce franchises which could breathe life back into their economies and communities through matching local businesspeople with some of the nation’s most successful franchise systems.

In doing so, we clearly acknowledge the model for the program developed with Greater Hamilton Council in south-western Victoria.

The Greater Hamilton region promoted its business opportunities to franchisors and franchisees at the FCA’s National Convention in Melbourne in October 2018 and produced a detailed information kit to assist franchise systems evaluate the opportunities in the region.

The Greater Hamilton regional presence at NFC2018 was a fantastic introduction to the industry and a surprise to many attendees, with Hamilton receiving positive feedback for their proactive approach to generating business growth for the region.

The central geographical location for a franchise territory, projected population growth of the region and the stable regional spend that is demonstrating an upward trend, were significant considerations for franchisors.

Since then, the council team and a few franchise systems have been in discussions aligning potential franchisees with franchisors. Other franchisors are redesigning their geographical territories or examining their business models to adjust to a smaller catchment.

Franchisors noted that when you see a local council investing in infrastructure for its CBD, then this is a sure sign of growth throughout the region.

Through my own regional background, I know how much-franchised businesses contribute to rural and regional Australia, and the FCA has been delighted to assist Greater Hamilton as well as discuss the opportunity with several more councils across Australia.

The benefit of introducing franchised businesses is not just economic, but also has positive social and community impact. Often you will find franchisees passing on the knowledge they have gained through their training and support to other local businesses. Healthy businesses create healthy communities.

By helping to meet the needs and maximise the opportunities for interested franchisors and franchisees, as well as providing a crucial link between local government and business, the FCA can further enhance the success of the local economy, maintain population growth and diversify the service offering for the community.

We would be pleased to discuss further how the FCA can assist both our members and local regions in utilising this program to participate in the nationwide strategy to leverage the benefits of franchising to rebuild and strengthen Australia’s local economies and communities.

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