Developing a Strong and Financially Stable Sector.
Established in 1983, the Franchise Council of Australia Limited (FCA) is a not-for-profit peak body association that develops a financially strong and viable franchising sector in Australia. The FCA establishes international standards of best practice for Australian franchising systems, and provides ongoing education and information to franchisors already in the industry and potential franchisees interested in joining the $131 billion industry.
The four pillars that make up the Franchise Council are representation, education, events, and networking and services. When any changes are required in the franchising industry, the FCA works collaboratively with the government to ensure that the changes achieved are exactly what the government is looking for without too much overlay in the system. “State based legislation for franchising was looked into by a few states in 2010-2011. We (FCA) worked with the federal government to try and keep everything based at a federal level. With this in place, there was only one layer of legislation that franchisors had to work with. It would not make sense for those operating in New South Wales to work under a different code in the same business as someone in Western Australia.” says Kym De Britt, FCA’s General Manager.
The education and training offered to those interested within the industry is important, as it ensures those coming in are informed about franchising and what it involves. “Australia is a big country, and trying to deliver education across the country is difficult; some members in Adelaide and the Northern Territory have complained that they can’t get the same level of coursesthose on the East Coast are offered,” says Kym. To combat this issue, the association partnered with Franklyn Scholar, an education provider specialising in the development and delivery of training to the franchising sector. Currently, they are in the process of offering an online training portal, which will offer more access to training for areas all over Australia. Advocating education and ongoing learning with the government and the general public has been one of FCA’s main objectives; promoting franchising and keeping their stakeholders educated with what franchising is all about. The FCA’s Franchise Academy works with different educational suppliers within the community, promoting courses from multiple education providers that specialise in the different areas of franchising and business. “We are trying to cover a broad aspect of not only franchising, but business courses as well, and depending on whether you want to do short courses or a degree or diploma, we can facilitate all of that,” Kym explains. Working with franchising systems helps the FCA see where they need improvement on training throughout the system. “Working with Franklyn Scholar helps us put together programs that meet the needs of our association. It’s all about being able to provide our members with what they need to succeed, which is why we are now providing online training with a national training provider.”
Advertising through different channels and mediums allows the FCA to promote events such as the Excellence in Franchising Awards and the National Franchise Convention. “The best marketing is word of mouth,” Kym explains. “One of our policies is that over 60% of the speakers at the National Convention are franchise owners; with this, other franchise owners know that when they come to the convention they will hear from other people in the industry, and their real life examples.” During the conference, the FCA also carries out case studies that allow franchise owners to explain their previous challenges, and how they overcame them.
The FCA regularlytours Australia holding a number of seminars, breakfasts and roundtables with franchise owners. At these gatherings, owners are able to give and receive feedback and are provided with up to date news and information. With the Excellence in Franchising Awards, the FCA publishes a regular story in their franchising magazine that includes both past awards winners and people that may not have won, but who have had an incredible journey in the industry, and what they have learnt from entering as well as any improvements they feel they can make to ensure their company continues growing within the industry.
Technology and its implementation across an entire system has been an ongoing issue on a day-to-day basis. Many franchising systems are making the decision to try going online, and are trying to understand how such a change would be implemented, who would pay for it, and how they would manage what proportion of the sales are distributed back to the franchisees, as opposed to the head office. “There are many different things going on with implementing technology, and that’s the same as what you’re seeing in the papers every day.” Says Kym. “You always have competition from overseas with markets and competitors coming into Australia. The American economy has not been so good, and I think systems from other countries are looking at Australia because our economy is still strong; so they see Australia as a market that’s worth having a look at.” For the past 12 months, the code review has been a major issue within the industry as well, as the Franchising Code of Conduct dictates how franchising is carried out in Australia. Working with both sides of the government has allowed the FCA to participate in consultation following the recommendations from the review, which was opened to all stakeholders by the government. “We met with the ministers from each government, and went through our concerns and recommendations, and we met with the treasury staff, who were tasked with drafting the code and implementing it. With our legal advisors we were able to sit down and explain the implications of the various recommendations and how they would be put into place for what we need.” says Kym. “The process has helped many stakeholders understand how it works, but also ask themselves what they were hoping to achieve.” The Franchising Code of Conduct has had several reviews since its introduction in 1998, with the most recent review in 2013; the review recommendations will be implemented by the middle of 2014.
Kym De Britt has been with FCA for five and a half years, starting out as the Chief Operating Officer with the Council after completing his MBA. He has maintained his role as General Manager for over a year. A personal goal of Kym’s for this year is to qualify for the Australian Triathlon Team, as he is looking to try and win the class.