Business optimism on show in 2022
The first quarter of 2022 showed much more optimism in business than 2021 and I attended the IFA Annual Convention in San Diego, California in March to hear from leading international business experts and entrepreneurs re the post-COVID business landscape.
The International Franchise Association’s IFA Convention is always one of franchising’s biggest yearly events, bringing together the true heavyweights of the international franchising community and providing a range of global perspectives on the year ahead.
Taking place over the course of five days, the IFA convention featured countless meetings, seminars, and educational sessions and, along with 20 other Australian delegates, I tried to attend as many as possible with topics relevant to franchising in Australia.
As well as robust education content and the opportunity to engage face-to-face with the franchising community, the atmosphere at the convention was extremely optimistic and attendees were buzzing with ideas about maximizing business development in 2022.
A key theme was the use of technology to drive productivity, especially in retailing. The main technological challenge in retail post pandemic is to build loyalty and better databases mapping purchasing behaviour, introducing efficiencies without diminishing customer experience and better use of digital messaging.
On workforce capacity, a shared view was that retailing cannot continue to rely on unskilled labour that may not see a future career in retail. Unemployment is at its lowest rate in history in the US and the minimum wage is lower than Australia (e.g. $20.50 per hour at an in-and-out burger store) but workers are less efficient.
In terms of Australia, our country is seen as one of the most challenging economic markets to deal with because of the cost of labour, red tape and commercial leasing arrangements. The US perception is if you can succeed as a brand in Australia, you have a good chance of making it in the US.
Feedback to me was to promote that there will be an Australian management team when launching in the US because Australia is so highly regulated it gives US stakeholders assurance of compliance.
Based on the information I gathered and the input from attendees at the conference, I am considering forming an international working group for FCA members.
As Franchise Council of Australia members look ahead throughout 2022, the FCA remains committed to delivering value through advocacy, education and support activities and initiatives.
Engagement across our membership continues to inform the FCA’s policy approach, with committees including the FCA Franchisee Advisory Committee, CEO Policy Advisory Committee and State Chapter Committees providing opportunities for members to engage in dialogue on key issues and topics facing franchising and small business.
With a Federal Election imminent, the FCA will continue to engage with politicians and policy makers to ensure the valuable economic, employment and community contribution of franchising is understood by decision makers.
In April we held the National Franchise Convention 2021-22, the most comprehensive professional development event on the FCA’s annual calendar.
The NFC is the first in a series of national events the FCA has planned this year that will provide a deep dive into core topics for franchises as they look to consolidate and grow.
Building on the success of the national webinar program in 2020-21, a series of informative webinars is planned to compliment resumption of face-to-face events in 2022.
The FCA’s focus on informing and educating franchise professionals has also recently been expanded with the launch of the FCA Academy. The academy provides member organisations with online access to learning and development content specifically tailored for franchise networks, with courses on topics such as employee compliance, sales and general business skills.
I look forward to continuing to deliver positive outcomes for the franchise sector throughout 2022.
Mary Aldred is the CEO of the Franchise Council of Australia, the peak body for the nation’s $184 billion franchise sector. Mary commenced in the role in April 2018, bringing with her extensive experience across government, industry and the corporate sectors. As CEO, Mary has led the FCA in developing and delivering strategic priorities to strengthen the FCA’s role as an effective peak business organisation and advocate for a complaint, sustainable and profitable franchise sector.
Franchise Council of Australia
Phone: 03 9508 0888