Snap-on scraps ‘Franchise Advisory Council'
The Franchise Council of Australia strongly recommends that member franchisors establish a Franchise Advisory Council, providing franchisees with ‘voice’ and a fair degree of latent clout. Almost all systems with more than a dozen franchisees have one.
The Franchise Advisory Council usually has strong status within the system. While franchisors have final say, ‘FACs’ are a means of bringing franchisee concerns to the table in a disciplined way, rather than via emotional phone calls and desperate emails, and help to put dampeners on any rising dispute. Franchisors deaf to FAC recommendations usually regret it – FACs might not have control, but they certainly have weight.
Snap-on Tools has folded its ‘FAC’ due to lack of franchisee interest. When the issue was raised not a single franchisee volunteered to participate in the year ahead. It was regarded by franchisees as a waste of time.
This perplexed the franchisor. ‘Best practice’ says there should be a FAC but what happens when franchisees decline to have one? If franchisees will not put up their hands, you can’t have one. So what do you do, that is best practice, when they’re content?
In a moment of inspiration, Snap-on asked selected franchisees if they would be okay with being part of a ‘Franchise Development Group’.
That made all the difference. The point is that franchisees saw a FAC as a forum for complaint and given a lack of dissent, why have it? But turn it around – invite franchisees into an inner circle where the decisions are made, because the franchisor wants their input, and a boring negative becomes a shining positive. There was plenty of enthusiasm by the Snap-on franchisees to be part of a Franchise Development Group, which is now established as a kind of ‘think tank’.
The Franchise Relationships Institute’s Greg Nathan – the sector’s guru in franchisor-franchisee interaction – says that this is not unusual for systems in balance.
“Actually you can call the franchisee-representative forum whatever you like,” he says, “A Franchise Development Group will deal with pretty much the same issues as a FAC, including any dissent that might arise, but words and approach can make a difference to expectations and outcomes. In many cases, what you find is that these bodies start out dealing mostly with resolving complaints but evolve into groups working on strategy, better service, better products and so on. That is best practice.”
Snap-on’s Franchise Development Manager Nick Hudson says the system will reintroduce a Franchise Advisory Council as soon as anyone wants one. However the Franchise Development team will be a permanent fixture.
Nick says system harmony has a lot to do with Aust/NZ MD Barrie Young’s recent promotion to President of Sales and Franchising for the Snap-on Tools Company in North America & Canada – a US$1.3 billion operation and the first time a non-American has held a Presidential position within the Snap-on network.
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