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The Essential Role Franchise Advisory Councils Play in Franchisee Validation

How FACs provide a necessary two-way vehicle of communication and growth in a franchise system.

By Katie LaTourStaff Writer
SPONSORED 8:08AM 02/14/19

Taking the plunge and finally opening one’s own franchise location can be exciting and overwhelming all at once. Between parsing the text-rich pages of the franchise disclosure document, finding the just-right location and completing their due diligence, a prospective franchisee may find themselves wondering more than ever if a resource exists to make sure their voice is heard by corporate leadership.

The good news? Just such a resource exists.

It’s called a franchise advisory council.

Franchise advisory councils, or FACs, are composed of groups of franchisees who meet on a scheduled basis to discuss matters that are of importance to both themselves and their franchisor. The council exists as both a representative of the larger franchise system and as a point of contact for dialogue between franchisor and franchisee.

Stephanie Simon is a five-year franchisee with pest control franchise Mosquito Joe*, operating in five territories across Arkansas. She’s been a member of her Mosquito Joe FAC since nearly the beginning of her franchising career, becoming a council member in 2014.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the Mosquito Joe FAC,” Simon said. “I sincerely appreciate seeing and hearing all of the changes that have been made for the better in our system because a few people spoke up, and, through the FAC, their voices were heard.”

Asked how she understood the goals of her FAC, Simon was emphatic:

“Our primary goals are to promote constructive, open and two-way communication between franchisees and Mosquito Joe corporate,” Simon explained. “These goals are well-achieved as it seems easier to speak to a fellow franchisee about a specific idea or concern—we are all in the same boat.”

Simon’s FAC meets quarterly to discuss an agenda that they set. In Simon’s case, the work of her franchise advisory council has brought on tangible successes; just a few include “consistent updates and improvements in vans, uniforms, vendors, products, policies and procedures.”

According to Simon, the experience has truly served to validate and strengthen the relationship between corporate leadership and the franchise system’s owner-operators.

“In my experience, I have seen so many great ideas come to fruition because of the FAC,” she said. “Mosquito Joe corporate is great at listening and making changes as needed. I believe when the franchisees see these changes, they feel a certain validation that they were heard and that corporate listened.”

Kathleen McKay is the Director of Franchise Development for non-medical elderly care franchise Home Instead Senior Care. Home Instead operates with an FEC model, or “franchise exchange council,” but the function and rewards echo those of Simon’s FAC: “[Our council] really provides a vehicle for franchise owners and senior leadership to share—whether that’s opportunities or challenges—and to create workable solutions that work for the home office and for our network.”

As McKay puts it, the reason for this success can best be understood by considering the relationship between franchisee and franchisor to be symbiotic.

“Some of our owners that have been on the FEC explain it as: ‘The senior leadership of our home office really thinks at the macro level, but owners have to operate at the micro level.’ So having owners sit down with our leadership really helps bridge that and allows for both forward-thinking and for operational day-to-day success.”

Home Instead Senior Care’s FEC, founded in 2005, is also set up along clear guidelines: the council is comprised of 16 franchise owners in the U.S. and Canada, with two representatives serving from the franchise’s eight North American regions. Representatives are voted onto the council by other franchisees in the system. The council meets bi-annually, or more frequently should an issue require its attention. As in the case of Simon’s FAC, the Home Instead council sets its own agenda and has seen real results.

“Working closely with our network, we expanded the scope [of our business model] ever-so-slightly on the advice of our owners,” McKay explained. “We made sure we had everything to do that professionally, with quality expansion, not just expansion for expansion’s sake.” She continued: “Anytime we consider new operating software, we talk to the FEC. We move things forward, or not, because of the FEC.”

Asked for her thoughts on just how beneficial to an existing franchisee-franchisor relationship advisory or exchange councils can be, McKay spoke in plain terms.

“Having some kind of council, FAC or FEC, is a critical piece for any franchise to have,” she said. “You have to have your finger on the pulse and be open to hearing everything. I mean, it’s a partnership. [As a franchisee], if you don’t have a vehicle for communication and access to senior leadership, you’re not going to be satisfied.”

With the new year, Stephanie Simon’s tenure as a member of her Mosquito Joe FAC is drawing to a close. After five sessions of involvement, she feels that FACs have an important role to play not only for owner-operators seeking meaningful dialogue with their franchisor, but also for prospective franchisee validation.

“I think FACs play a great role in prospective franchisee validation,” she said. “It shows them that we belong to a community and franchise that is actively listening to their members and open to hearing new ideas to improve our entire system. I believe that it is so important for prospective franchisees to know about this opportunity when making their final decisions.”

“Even the smallest idea,” said Simon, “can make such an amazing impact."

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.