An Introduction to Franchise Advisory Councils

Franchise Advisory Councils (FACs) are typically small groups of franchisees chosen to represent all of the franchisees within a single franchise system. The council meets with franchise executives to talk about business matters relevant to the system as a whole. These FACs are designed to foster constructive, two-way communications between the franchiser and the partners.

Topics discussed by FACs vary widely, of course, but could include advertising, training methods, equipment, market trends, financing, field support, quality assurance issues and operations. Council meetings also give franchisees a place to discuss mutual concerns and complaints.

Franchisers also use FACs as sounding boards before implementing or changing business operations. The franchiser might ask for ideas or suggestions to improve the overall system or let the franchisees know about any planned system-wide changes.

Successful Franchise Advisory Councils are usually chaired by an individual who keeps a focused agenda and encourages an open dialogue between all council members. Both the franchisee members and the franchise executives must be able to keep an open mind and actively listen to the other members.

A majority of FACs are established by the franchisers. So, although wise executives listen to their franchisees, the franchiser still has the final say when it comes to decision-making.

FACs vary when it comes to council member selection. Sometimes the franchiser appoints selected franchisees, but many FACs use an open election process. Even then, however, the franchiser usually sets specific requirements, such as being a franchisee for a specific amount of time.

The number of FAC members varies widely but typically includes five to 20 people and terms usually range between one and three years. Effective FAC members are generally positive, respected franchisees that want what's best for the overall franchise system.

FACs usually officially meet two to four times annually, although they might hold informal discussions at other times. The parent company normally pays for the costs of any meetings.

A majority of successful franchises have a Franchise Advisory Council that encourages communication between franchisees and franchisers. Newer franchise systems might not need an FAC right at the beginning but should set one up as soon as it's feasible.