Sharing a wealth of knowledge at IFA

Michael Paul, Chairman, Franchise Council of Australia

During the start to a predictably busy 2013, I was fortunate enough to attend the 53rd Annual International Franchise Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

As a standalone event, the three day convention held in late February each year is an invaluable learning experience for anyone in franchising.

As part of this year’s FCA delegation, I was privileged to also attend the half day briefing specifically for Australians, as well as the FCA Franchisor US Study Tour - the first of its kind - immediately following the convention.

I came away from the trip inspired, motivated and incredibly proud to be part of the global franchising community, where so many business relationships are formed and much valuable knowledge is shared.

The Australian delegation began their time in Las Vegas with a half day briefing tailored specifically to franchise professionals considering entry into the US market. Put together by FCA, the seminar focused on key strategic concerns for those looking to launch their brand in the United States, including finance, taxation, legal structure, recruitment, and whether to enter the market directly or through a master franchisee. One of the more interesting points made to the group was the need to consider which states are more ‘franchise friendly’ where regulation and market entry are concerned. This was particularly noteworthy given the movement in recent years by some State Governments in Australia to annex the Franchising Code into state law.

A federally regulated sector and the ability to operate nation-wide under one framework is certainly a major advantage we enjoy in Australian franchising, and one of the reasons we can claim world’s best practice.

The first thing you notice about the convention itself is the sheer size and scale. The enormity of the three-day convention was driven home at the keynote address by former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. With 3,500 delegates seated for lunch, Ms Rice spoke about her experiences in the White House and wider political career with such candour and insight that she received a standing ovation from the entire delegation. I would challenge anyone present at that lunch to say they weren’t motivated to do more in their own professional life.

Following the IFA Convention, I, and a small group of other Australian franchisors participated in the first FCA Franchisor Study Tour. We travelled from Las Vegas to Texas, where we were hosted at six US-based franchise head offices in Dallas, Fort Worth and Waco. What was incredible about this leg of the trip was the genuine hospitality and generosity shown by the leaders of these franchise systems in making the study tour a resounding success. Dina Dwyer-Owens chairperson and CEO of the Dwyer Group was a great example. Dina oversees a company operating seven residential and commercial franchise service brands, made up of over 1,500 franchisees in 10 countries turning over US$800 million in annual system wide revenues. She openly shared her experience in franchisee recruitment growth, support systems, private equity ownership and the benefits of their unique Code of Values. Direct access to this lifetime of experience and know-how was invaluable to the members of the FCA study tour.

The last leg of the study tour was to Silicon Valley in Northern California, home to the world’s most hi-tech innovation companies. Here we visited the head offices of eBay and Paypal and were given an impressive insight into e-commerce of the future.

It is in this spirit of knowledge exchange, technological change, and moving into the next phase of the economy that we look forward to this year’s National Franchise Convention, NFC13 – Future Landscapes. We are privileged to count executive-level leaders from the International Franchise Association and technology pioneers from PayPal among our keynote speakers this year. There are many more exciting announcements to come. We’ll see you in October.

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