Q & A with Robert Cresanti, CEO of the International Franchise Association

Business Franchisor magazine

What are the benefits to an Australian franchisor by attending the annual IFA convention?

There are quite a few benefits involved in attending IFA’s Annual Convention. Firstly, as the premier annual event for franchising, Australian franchisors will be able to meet leaders in the international franchising space, hear from and meet experts in franchising, marketing, and operational excellence, and network with the very best of suppliers who enjoy working in the franchise space. Furthermore, Australian franchisors will have the opportunity to meet franchisees who may be interested in investing abroad or in their franchise concept.

Franchising is well-established in both countries, do cultural differences make it difficult to cross over the water?

To be frank, while Australians certainly do have a vibrant and unique cultural profile based on a mix of many cultures, there are also many similarities to American culture which add to franchising’s ability to cross over, either into America, or into Australia. Firstly, the robust and stable economy and strong rule of law in Australia makes it an attractive target for American franchisors looking to expand into a new market, and the same goes for America. Secondly, the fact is that, English is widely spoken, so you have less of a communication barrier between the two cultures, which can help smooth a company’s entrance into a different nation’s market.

What resources are available from the IFA to Australian franchisors who may wish to enter the US market?

The IFA has many resources available to franchisors looking to expand into the U.S. and we would love to have Australian franchisors join the IFA! We offer discounts on our many different events and conventions, and we also offer country profiles on our website which help describe different nation’s unique franchising industry. We also offer in-depth guides on each country’s differences in franchising law, which are really important for franchisors looking to enter different markets. Moreover, an Australian franchisor may wish to consult with a franchising professional to find out the best strategy – many consultants are listed in our Supplier Directory. Finally, we would recommend they look at our membership as well, and see what their competitors are up to.

Since the IFA inception in the early 1970’s, how would you say franchising has changed nationally and internationally?

Over the last several decades, franchising has developed from a domestic engine of prosperity, into an international force of entrepreneur-fueled growth. Every year brings new public policy challenges and opportunities to demonstrate the positive impacts of franchising on both economic growth and social mobility. Today, despite domestic regulatory challenges to franchising, globally, it’s a great time to be involved in franchising – there are more franchise brands than ever and financing options for potential franchisees are abundant.

What lessons have been learned over the years?

Over the years, we’ve learned franchising can be an extraordinarily powerful tool for growth, and the inherently mutual beneficial relationship has built some of the world’s most recognizable brands. Franchising has stood the test of time and continues to add jobs at a remarkable rate.

There are many changes though; today’s franchise markets are even more competitive – franchisors must be constantly adapting their marketing and products in order to retain customer loyalty. And social media has changed all the rules of the marketing game, so brands have to adapt to stay relevant.

Even so, there’s been an explosion of growth into new franchise formats, like professional services, staffing, and even social-focused non-profit franchises which help the developing world. We’re excited to see what the future will bring this successful business model and we’re confident franchising can overcome the public policy challenges currently facing U.S. franchised businesses.

The International Franchise Association Toolkit is designed to be a core resource for IFA Members interested in international franchising. At the heart of the Toolkit are webinar courses that comprise a curriculum in franchising across borders.

Cresanti received a law degree from Baylor University School of Law, a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from Austin College. He also received a certificate of EC Law from the University of Glasgow Law School and completed master’s courses in International Relations from Johns Hopkins SAIS.

For more information visit: www.franchise.org/InternationalToolkit

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