What is a Franchise Advisory Council?

What is a Franchise Advisory Council?

Franchisees Can Voice Opinions, Share Experiences, and Contribute to the Franchisor’s Decision-Making Process

Franchise advisory councils can be pivotal in franchise business growth and cultivating strong relationships. They are essential in enhancing franchisee loyalty, trust, and support for corporate initiatives. Additionally, they help manage resistance to change and improve program effectiveness. Here we take a deep dive into the nitty-gritty of franchise advisory councils and offer tips on making them work.

Fostering Balanced Relationships

As a franchise system matures, a natural tension arises between franchisors and franchisees. When this tension becomes imbalanced, it can lead to complications, stress, and potentially escalate into larger issues. To address this, franchise systems often establish a franchise advisory council (FAC) within their brand. FACs include franchisees who regularly convene, facilitated by the franchisor, to provide constructive feedback and critical insights that benefit the franchise system.

Strategic Timing and Member Selection

Creating a successful FAC takes strategic planning and foresight. It’s best to start one when things are calm — not during chaotic times. Selecting the right council members is paramount. Striking a balance between franchisees and ensuring diverse representation is crucial. Determining the council’s structure, whether through nominations or elections, and delineating its roles and functions are pivotal considerations that require meticulous attention to detail.

Thoughtful Meeting Management

Efficiently coordinating FAC meetings entails careful preparation and management. Meetings should have clear objectives and a well-defined structure to ensure purposeful discussions. The frequency, duration, and agendas must be thoughtfully tailored to engage and provide value to all participants. Any signs of disengagement or waning interest should be regarded as signals for potential structural adjustments.

Communication Strategies

FACs can help improve overall satisfaction and engagement when used properly. It’s a great forum to air grievances, try new initiatives, and get some two-way communication in a managed and confidential way.

Preserving Efficacy

While FACs can have auspicious beginnings, there’s a risk of losing direction over time. Employing effective techniques to realign and rejuvenate the council is essential to ensure its enduring value and impact.

Foundational Pillars of a Robust FAC

Creating a robust FAC requires the establishment of a written charter and a comprehensive set of guidelines. These elements provide structural integrity, transparency, and a clear understanding of roles and expectations. Additionally, implementing a mechanism to track actions or issues ensures accountability and meaningful progress, preventing superficial busyness. Nurturing leadership within the FAC is essential to avoid an overly authoritative or burdensome perception among members, reinforcing the council’s advisory nature.

Navigating Accountability and Confidentiality

The advent of an advisory council introduces a new layer of accountability to the brand. This shift requires proactive preparation. The council’s role in determining priorities necessitates adept management, fostering an environment where franchisees can express ideas openly and confidently. While confidentiality is crucial, it must be balanced with transparency, particularly when sharing certain information with the broader system while safeguarding sensitive matters.

Top-Level Commitment and Resource Allocation

The franchise organization’s commitment to the franchise advisory council’s mission is pivotal. This commitment must stem from the highest echelons of the franchisor’s leadership and be steered by an internal champion. Setting up an FAC should be treated as an initiative, complete with an allocated budget. While council members are typically unpaid, considerations for travel and meeting expenses, and occasional social interactions, are advisable to foster camaraderie and rapport.

Intrinsic Value and Maturation

An FAC contributes substantial value to the organization, highlighting the brand’s maturity and the adeptness of its leadership team. The benefits outweigh the associated costs and risks, provided the council is skillfully developed and meticulously managed over time. Tailoring the structure to align with the brand’s culture, values, and system size is crucial. For those seeking to delve deeper, a comprehensive workbook developed by Franchise Business Review in 2018 offers valuable insights.

The Importance of Franchise Advisory Councils

Franchise advisory councils represent a strategic means of nurturing franchise relationships, fostering innovation, and enhancing communication. Their establishment, management, and utilization warrant meticulous attention to detail, alignment with brand values, and a commitment to sustained excellence. This approach can substantially elevate the brand’s performance and cohesion within the franchise ecosystem.

For further exploration of FAC dynamics and strategies, consider the workbook developed by Franchise Business Review in 2018: Building a Franchise Advisory Council that Gets Results. This resource serves as an invaluable starting point for brands keen on embracing the benefits of FACs.

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John W. Francis has more than 30 years in franchise industry, as both a franchisor and a franchisee with multiple brands. He is a sought-after keynote speaker, industry consultant and strategic advisor. Because of his wealth of experience, he is known throughout the industry as Johnny Franchise.
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