7 ways to turn your FAC into a brilliant business tool

Sarah Stowe

Are you ready to make your franchise advisory council (FAC) as effective as possible? Here Beth Pocklington, CEO of Toddler Kindy Gymbaroo and a Top 30 Franchise Executives 2019 finalist, shares her experience and tips.

1. Start with collaboration

“Make sure the appointment of FAC representatives is collaborative, and that they are indeed representative. That means franchisees have to select them. The best system I have seen is a nomination process and then an election. This is imperative because if franchisees don’t select their reps, you start out on entirely the wrong foot. They will simply view them as puppets of head office.”

2. Retain the right of veto

“With franchisee collaboration I always reserve the right to vet and veto reps. It’s important to maintain integrity in whatever compliance you hold important. You can do it simply – for instance, franchisees have to have had no breach notice within a set amount of time.

“I like to look at other aspects: are they meeting their franchise agreement obligations, paying bills on time, reporting on time. Are they a positive voice? That doesn’t mean agreeable, they can be disagreeable but positive. Every franchise will have dissenters who will collect a following but their intentions are not good.”

3. Communicate the guidelines

“I put the guidelines for how I veto in the operations manual and I send it out several times a year to remind people how it operates.”

4. Seek valuable feedback

“The franchisor should set the tone for the FAC and for meetings. I don’t ever want ‘yes’ people, that makes it a vanilla group. I’ve been in those meetings where there is no discussion and it just becomes a reporting structure.

“I’m not a business owner, I’m not on the front line so I need franchisees to pick it apart and give me every scenario, and then ultimately I’ll decide how to implement something or shift resources.

“A franchise advisory council needs genuine collaboration between operators and strategists. I am very picky about this.”

5. Ensure a broad representation of the franchisee lifecycle

“We have two company-owned stores and I like them to have a voice. I’ll have a new franchisee representative as well, who I will select. Our franchisees have an average tenure of 16 years, and established franchisees’ experience is very different to the new voice, the marketplace is very different now. I try to capture as many perspectives of the franchisee lifecycle as I can.”

6. Accountability is important

“The big message is that if the reps don’t have a constituency, who are they reporting to? That’s where it can fall over, they need accountability.

“An agenda is sent out, franchisees have a meeting and give their feedback to the rep, then the FAC rep presents their views at the meeting, then they can share their views. They report back to their franchisees.”

7. Make communication and contributions accessible

“We don’t hold physical FAC meetings, we do them virtually on Zoom (video conferencing). It’s important to make franchisee communications and contributions accessible and then you will have more people put their hands up.”