FCA Article: Issue 3#2

By Steve Wright, Executive Director, Franchise Council of Australia

This article appeared in Issue 3#2 (January/February 2009) of Business Franchise Australia & New Zealand


Education is emerging as a key theme for franchising in 2009.

This was apparent in the recent inquiries in franchising in WA and SA and the Federal inquiry in 2008.

Education was one of the most encouraging aspects of the earlier WA and SA Reports that each agreed with the FCA submission, pinpointing education as a key element of lifting sector performance and minimising disputes.

The FCA role is to ensure that no matter what stage of development of any participant in the sector, that there is relevant  professional development and/or formal qualification training available to extend that person’s learning or understanding of principles, practices and current trends in franchising – both here and overseas.

This end-to-end spectrum includes exit from franchising (for franchisors and franchisees) and, at the other end, entry and pre-entry education.

The Franchise Academy ‘Franchising 101’ course is designed specifically for those starting out, or just about to start out.  Recently the FCA has added a new offering, aimed even more specifically at the pre-entry segment – potential franchisees who are still contemplating a decision on whether or not to buy a franchise.  

The FCA has taken this step because we understand it is vital that people entering the franchising sector do so with “eyes wide open”.

To ensure this new initiative is executed comprehensively and impartially, we are teaming with the ACCC and State Small Business offices to deliver this new pre-entry component of our sector-wide education program.

The first pre-entry seminar took place in Melbourne in late October 2008. The event was designed specifically to complement the “boot-camp” seminars held at the national franchising and business opportunity expos, which provide delegates with a general understanding of the franchising landscape and some of the areas to focus on when looking to enter the market. 

The pre-entry seminars are specifically for people who had read the literature, had a few franchises in mind but really needed that final opportunity to understand the questions they needed to be asking and get them answered.

The event in Melbourne provided guests with the opportunity to hear from a variety of sector and government professionals. Speakers on the day included myself; Roger Arwas, Director of Small Business Policy and Programs at Small Business Victoria; Frank Lilley, VIC Outreach Manager with the ACCC; Phil Blain FCA VIC State President, as well as franchisor Martin Rose, TopDog at Blue Wheelers; and franchisee Nader Seifen, La Porchetta Lilydale; who all spoke about what a potential franchise purchaser should be looking out for when buying into a franchise.

The participants all gave very encouraging feedback about the quality of the information presented and the usefulness of the many discussions which took place.  It was also encouraging from my point of view to see that a number of franchisors and advisers chose to come to the seminar to gain some first-hand insight into the way potential new franchisees were thinking, as well as to hear from the ACCC and Small Business Victoria.  

The FCA will ramp up its promotion of this event and take it nationally in 2009 as we continue to forge partnerships with State Governments and regulators and encourage them to get on board for the ride, as well as continuing with our Franchising 101 course through the FCA Academy. 

Education has been an important aspect of the Australian franchise sector for a number of years and this, coupled with the sector’s unquenchable desire to grow and succeed, has enabled the sector to function at world’s best practice.  Recent statistics from the ACCC, the Office of the Mediation Advisor and the 2008 Franchising Australia survey continue to confirm that litigation and disputation rates in the Australian franchise sector are very low by international standards 

This is great news, but the FCA will not rest on its laurels.  We will continue to strive to improve the services we provide to our members, the sector as a whole and new-comers to the team who, with the right amount of information and resources, will be able to increase their chances for individual business success and, ultimately, provide the foundations for the long term success of the sector.

On the theme of professional development, we are also pleased to announce that the 2009 National Franchise Convention will be held in Perth, Western Australia on 19 – 21st of October. With current economic conditions as they are and relative uncertainty with what the next 24 months will have in store, we are determined to make NFC 09 a real opportunity for those in the franchise sector to gain insights into ways that they can improve their businesses. 

This Convention, as always, will be the highlight of the Australian franchise calendar and with picturesque Perth – with its wealth of beaches, wineries and landmarks.  As hosts in 2009, I urge the entire sector to save this date for not only business, but also what will surely be a well earned break as well.

Look out for details for NFC 09 on the FCA website and if you would like to register your interest as a sponsor or exhibitor feel free to contact the FCA on 1300 669 030.

Looking ahead, we – as a sector - need to maintain and sharpen our focus on continuing improvement, to lift standards across the board.  Member and professional standards in the sector are critical as well as education.  Taking proactive steps in these areas is good for the sector and all its participants – and it demonstrates to the political and regulatory stakeholders that we are determined to ensure the franchising sector not only continues its path of outstanding growth, but that the growth is achieved at the same time as standards of ethical behaviour are maintained and improved over time.

To this end the, the FCA Supplier Forum is working on professional development and member standards as key elements of its focus in 2009. The forum, headed by FCA Victoria President Phil Blain, is involved in discussions with like-minded organisations to broaden the appeal of FCA members to gain professional development opportunities. We hope to have more announced on this topic early this year. 

Review: National Franchise Convention – October 2008

The power of one sector, one vision and one event was palpable as NFC08 – the national conference for the franchise sector – hit the Sydney Convention Centre through the 16-18 October in 2008. The national convention, which is the biggest of its kind in Australia, brought together franchisees, franchisors and suppliers to provide an opportunity to learn, do business and be inspired.  

It also provided a forum to discuss the major issues affecting the sector with those who have the ability to influence the outcomes and was an ideal vehicle for networking with peers. The convention was formally opened by John O’Brien, Chairman of the FCA, who acknowledged the power and amazing spirit of the franchise sector.  The opening was followed by a key note address from the Hon. Dr Craig Emerson, Federal Minister for Small Business on “The Power of One Focus”.  Dr Emerson spoke highly of the franchising model in Australia – awarding an 8.5 out of 10 for a sector that should be proud of its achievements.  One of the highlights of the convention was a panel discussion on the perception of franchising facilitated by Peter Switzer with commentary from Dr Michael Schaper, Deputy Chair of the ACCC and The Hon Steven Ciobo, Shadow Federal Minister for Small Business.   

The healthy state of the franchising sector was clearly evident as a range of 150 speakers took to the podium over the two days of the conference and the special legal and regulatory update symposium on the day before the official opening. Concurrent sessions, panel discussions, workshops, debates and round tables added to the impact of the keynotes and provided more depth and opportunity for detailed discussion of the issues.

The climax of the convention - the MYOB Excellence in Franchising Awards - was attended by over 500 people who enjoyed the gala presentation dinner at Sydney’s Luna Park.  

Winners on the night were:

  • 7-Eleven Stores - Franchisor of the Year (Overall and Retail)
  • The Coffee Club Group - Food Franchisor of the Year
  • Hotondo Homes -  Service Franchisor of the Year
  • Mark Maumill and Jason Love, Banjo's Corporation - Franchisee of the Year
  • Mr Rental - Emerging Franchise System of the Year
  • Gloria Jean’s Coffees "Gloria" - Franchise Innovation of the Year
  • Ecowash Mobile - Franchise Export of the Year
  • Debra Shugg, CEO of Award Group - Franchise Woman of the Year
  • Bakers Delight - Media Campaign of the Year 
  • Pacnet – inaugural Supplier of the Year

I’d like to offer my congratulations to all the winners and I would also like to thank MYOB who came on board as sponsors of the Awards this year and, in doing so, show tremendous support for the sector. MYOB’s goal to help small business is a perfect fit for the FCA and our sector as a whole.

It is abundantly clear that this was indeed one event for one powerful sector with one vision!