Franchise CEOs to gather at NFC12

Stephen Giles, Chairman, Franchise Council of Australia

The Franchise Council of Australia’s National Franchising Convention (NFC12) in Canberra from 7-9 October will feature one of the largest ever gatherings of franchising CEOs in Australian history.

As FCA Chairman, I have personally invited over 100 leading CEOs to meet with political leaders, including the Federal Small Business Minister Brendan O’Connor and the Federal Shadow Small Business Minister Bruce Billson, to gain valuable insights into both sides of the small business political spectrum.

The response rate to the Parliament House meetings has been strong, with many keen and willing to participate. Numerous CEOs have also expressed a willingness to speak to the franchise sector at NFC12 to pass on their words of wisdom to help continue the growth of the best form of small business in the country, if not the world, franchising.

We deliberately chose Canberra for NFC12, as the political winds are uncertain and the Federal Government and the Opposition are both committed to a review of the Franchising Code of Conduct in 2013.

It is an ongoing battle to remind our politicians and bureaucrats of the outstanding contribution made by the franchise sector to the Australian economy, and to prevent further intrusive regulation and red tape. I think we are winning the battle, but there remains significant agitation by various parties for further legislation that will adversely affect franchising in Australia.

Franchising is the genuine engine room of the Australian economy – 70,000 franchised businesses, $128 billion in annual turnover and over 700,000 Australians employed. Yet we see more potential regulation of the franchise sector, and a lack of understanding in Canberra about genuine small business issues.

FCA Executive Director Steve Wright and the FCA Board raise these issues continually, but we know that the best way to get our message across is direct from the horse’s mouth - from the franchisors and franchisees generating the economic activity. As a group, we are working to expand the pool of potential franchisees not just by promoting the benefits of franchising, but by alliances with the AFL and others who may have people that would be interested in franchising. We will be continuing our discussions with Government and the Opposition on this opportunity. Hopefully we can convince Government to introduce the Small Business Act lending program similar to that used so effectively by franchisors in the US.

Retail leasing, penalty rates, access to finance and a general high cost business environment are matters where we continue to ask the Government to act.

The NFC12 program is also a great reason for those in the sector to get to Canberra. The leadership forum will feature former Prime Minister John Howard and Christine Corbett, who is the Executive General Manager for Retail Services at Australia Post, which has almost 3,000 licensed post offices. FCA Franchise Hall of Fame member, Roger Gillespie from Bakers Delight, will also tell us how he has stayed on top for over 20 years, while some of the young gun CEOs will talk about their respective networks and how they have gone about getting to where they are today.

Also at the conference you will be able to hear from some of the sector’s most successful franchise system owner-managers, including John O’Brien (PoolWerx) and Paul Wheeler (formerly Cartridge World, now Senior Helpers) as well as Wizard Home Loans and Yellow Brick Road entrepreneur Mark Bouris.

I think you’ll agree the line up for NFC12 is impressive and I look forward to seeing you in Canberra during October, where as a sector, we will take over the nation’s capital for three days to ensure our collective voice is heard.

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