A Franchise Advisory Council (FAC), at its basic definition, is a committee of individual franchisees, organized by the franchisor, to provide feedback and collaborative ideas to the franchisor on how to improve the system.
FACs are interactive groups that provide constructive, structured collaboration between franchisor and franchisees, and serve as an effective representation of the franchisees and their perspective to corporate management.
But in order for the FAC to truly represent franchisees’ perspectives, the group itself has to function effectively, which is dependent on practices and a culture within the group that set up both the FAC and the franchisor for success.
If you have an FAC in your system, look for these five indicators to determine if it is running successfully.
What to Look for in a Successful FAC
1. A competent chairperson or facilitator This person is responsible for ensuring the meetings are run effectively and everyone has the opportunity to have a say. An effective facilitator keeps things moving, agenda-focused, and remains open to new topics as they come up.
2. Clarity over the purpose, role, and powers of the FAC Everyone in the group should understand how the FAC fits into the overall governance and management structure of the franchise network. An effective FAC is respected as an important part of the organization, but at the same time, it should be understood that the FAC is advisory and is not intended to provide franchisees a veto over franchisor decisions. By listening and taking FAC views into account prior to making decisions, you will go a long way toward building trust and value with the FAC and the system as a whole.
3. Well-prepared agendas The process for gathering agenda items should not be onerous on the members and care should be given to how these agenda items are prepared for discussion in meetings. Facilitation of discussion and sequencing of topics needs to be carefully handled. Shannon Wilburn, CEO & Co-Founder of Just Between Friends, implemented a set of 10 questions that need to be answered before a topic can be added the the FAC agenda to ensure that it meets the criteria for discussion, including why it needs to be discussed, who will be impacted, proposed recommendations, and action steps required.
4. Participation of senior franchisor executives Successful FACs have consistent participation from franchise leaders who attend with an open mind, candor, and the willingness to listen to the views presented in meetings. Conversely, they don’t overreact to or defend personal attacks or criticisms.
5. A focus on meaningful business improvement The purpose must not be about resolving differences of opinion and hearing gripes – it should be about improving franchisees’ profitability, collaboration and competitiveness of the group. At times pent-up individual frustrations are aired, but they should be resolved as quickly as possible, so the meeting’s main focus is more on meaningful solutions and dealing with real challenges for the wider system.
If you don’t have an FAC in place, or you need help getting your FAC back on track, now’s the time to get started. Implementing or reinvigorating an FAC doesn’t have to be hard, but it does have to be planned thoughtfully with long-term goals in mind to be effective.
REQUEST A FREE FAC WORKBOOK
Our Franchising By Design FAC workbook walks you through how to implement an FAC that contributes to the success of your franchisees and the overall performance of your brand.
Request a free copy of Building a Franchise Advisory Council that Gets Results for a step-by-step guide to:
What you need to know before implementing an FAC, including defining goals, setting expectations, identifying FAC members, and communicating the plan.
Creating the FAC format and agenda, launching, setting ground rules, and managing the process.
Keeping the FAC on track, making adjustments, and expanding the opportunity and value over time.
Eric leads FBR’s research and consultants with clients in the area of franchise performance. He is an active member of the International Franchise Association (IFA), serves on the IFA’s VetFran and Franchise Relations Committees, and speaks frequently on topics related to franchise relations and best practices in franchising. Eric lives on the coast of Maine with his wife and two daughters, and enjoys spending as much time as possible on the ocean.
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