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Maximising Franchise Potential: The vital role of Franchise Advisory Councils

 

By Heath Graham, National Operations Manager, Belgravia Health & Fitness

 

In the dynamic world of franchising, adaptability and innovation are key ingredients for sustained success. Franchise Advisory Councils (FACs) stand at the forefront of this pursuit, serving as invaluable conduits for real-world insights and actionable feedback from franchisees directly to the franchisor. After all, it’s the franchisees who are on the ground every day at the frontline of the business. As a cornerstone of many reputable franchise groups, FACs play a pivotal role in steering brands towards relevance and excellence in an ever-evolving market landscape.

 

Understanding Franchise Advisory Councils 

Typically, Franchise Advisory Councils function as collaborative entities, fostering open communication channels between franchisees and the franchisor. Here’s a breakdown of their operational dynamics:

  1. Representation and selection: Members of the FAC are usually elected or appointed from among the franchisee community, aiming to achieve diverse representation across different regions, business sizes, and tenure within the franchise system. Term of service is usually around two years at which point a new council must be elected.
  2. Regular meetings: FACs convene regularly, either virtually or in person, to discuss pertinent issues, share insights, and deliberate on strategic initiatives. These meetings often follow structured agendas but allow for organic discussions to address emerging concerns or opportunities. Franchisor representatives regularly join these meetings too.
  3. Feedback mechanisms: FACs serve as feedback mechanisms, offering firsthand insights into the operational challenges, market trends and customer preferences encountered at the franchisee level. This feedback loop informs franchisor decision-making processes related to marketing strategies, product development, operational enhancements and more. The FAC will often prepare a report or other written feedback and periodically franchisor representatives join FAC meetings to engage in direct discussions.
  4. Strategic collaboration: Beyond providing feedback, FACs collaborate with the franchisor to develop innovative solutions and forward-planning too, helping to refine business processes and drive continuous improvement. By leveraging the collective wisdom of franchisees, FACs help steer the brand towards sustainable growth and competitive advantage.

 

 

Keys to Success: Nurturing an effective Franchise Advisory Council

While establishing a Franchise Advisory Council is a proactive step towards enhancing franchise performance, maximising its efficacy requires deliberate effort and strategic leadership. Here are some essential strategies for running a successful FAC:

  1. Clear objectives and expectations: Define the purpose, scope, and expectations of the FAC clearly from the outset. Establish measurable goals and key performance indicators to evaluate the council’s effectiveness in driving business outcomes.
  2. Transparent communication: Foster a culture of open communication and transparency within the FAC. Encourage members to express their perspectives candidly while ensuring respectful dialogue and constructive feedback exchange.
  3. Engagement and participation: Actively involve FAC members in decision-making processes and strategic discussions. Leverage their expertise and frontline insights to inform critical business decisions and shape the future direction of the franchise.
  4. Continual evaluation and adaptation: Regularly assess the FAC’s performance and relevance in addressing evolving business challenges and opportunities. Solicit feedback from both franchisees and corporate leadership to identify areas for improvement and refine the council’s structure and operations accordingly.
  5. Commitment to action: Translate insights and recommendations generated by the FAC into actionable initiatives and tangible outcomes. Demonstrate a commitment to addressing franchisee concerns and leveraging their input to drive meaningful change within the organization.
  6. Recognition and appreciation: Acknowledge the invaluable contributions of FAC members and demonstrate appreciation for their dedication and commitment to the franchise system. Celebrate successes, milestones, and collaborative achievements to foster a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose.

 

Real Insights from a franchisee

James Bradley, Owner of JUMP! Swim Schools Pakenham & Lakeside Pakenham

My journey as a franchisee within the JUMP! Swim School’s Franchise Advisory Council (FAC) has been incredibly rewarding. I didn’t know what the FAC was before I purchased my franchise — it was something I learned about once in the JUMP! network. I put my hand up to be part of the FAC because I had been a franchisee for several years and had helped numerous franchisees with advice in the past. Being a franchisee working in my own business I knew everything back to front and new I could use my knowledge to help discuss topics and provide feedback. I wanted to ensure that the elements that make JUMP! great are maintained and grown. 

 

Serving as a point of contact for franchisees in two states, I was able to provide support and raise questions on their behalf, despite the demands of running my own swim school.

 

The experience of being on the FAC was enriching and I gained a better understanding of how the franchise NEEDS to operate to ensure success and longevity for all. Having representatives from each state made it a great group to share and discuss ideas, considering that some states have to do things differently. The bi-monthly catch-ups covered various topics—from brand performance to marketing strategies to operational updates. We were able to influence significant decisions, such as providing feedback on proposed changes and negotiating better rates for essential services. FACs facilitate communication and collaboration between franchisees and the franchisor by being a point of contact for all franchisees and bringing ideas and discussions to meetings.

 

From my experience, a well-functioning and effective FAC is characterised by a happy and positive group that can come together to bring fun and great ideas to the table. It’s a group that listens to all aspects but knows when it’s time to make clear decisions and move forward. Working to good, clear, achievable timelines and sharing responsibilities ensures smooth operations. Ultimately, a successful FAC leaves the franchise in a better state than when they joined—a goal we consistently strive to achieve within the national JUMP! Swim Schools network.

 

 

 

Heath Graham

Heath leads a team of operational experts nationally across the Jump Swim School network. Heath has over 15 years’ experience, first joining Belgravia in 2008, and has worked across a range of franchise brands gaining a broad range of franchise and business experience.

Heath has had several management roles, including sales, project management and multisite operations management, and also recently played a key role in overseeing the growth and opening of various franchise businesses. Heath is highly skilled and passionate in business operations and oversees the JUMP! Swim Schools Operations nationally. Visit Belgravia Health