Franchise advisory councils and associations give order to the franchise universe. They offer communication among franchisees as well as franchisees and franchisors. If you’re a franchisee, you’ll want representation of some kind and a system that welcomes you and that’s what these things do.
A franchisee advisory council is a committee established by the franchisor and which is composed of franchisee as representatives. Franchisor-operated units might also send representatives. The purpose of franchisee advisory councils is to:
Franchisees can also use the councils to change or influence the direction of the company, network with peers, and voice complaints. Even if you’re not on the council, you can voice your opinions or thoughts by contacting someone who is on the council who can speak on your behalf.
The structure of franchise council can vary. In some systems, the franchisees and franchisors establish a council and agree on membership, meeting dates, voting rights, and other rules. In other systems, the franchisor will establish all of the above on their own. Also, some franchisors will pick up the cost for the attending franchisees and some won’t. There’s no rule set for this by the IFA. Some councils will have franchisor-operated locations represented and some councils will have franchisees elected by their peers, franchisor, or a combination of the two.
When you speak with the franchisees of a system, ask them about their thoughts on an advisory council. Ask them what the system does. Get a name of whoever is in charge and see if you can’t attend any local council meetings.
Franchisee associations differ from the franchisee councils as these are normally 100% independent of the organization and made up only of the franchisees who pay their dues to the franchisor. They can function similarly to franchise council, but they make their own rules, memberships, requirements, and agendas. Membership dues usually find franchisee associations and keep them running.
Historically, many franchisee associations were started because of systematic failure of some kind such as a franchisor going bankrupt. If that happens, all franchisees lose just as much as the franchisor so it’s in times like this you really see the community that is built through franchising come together. Change in management can also be something to cause a franchisee association to form. Even without your franchisor being in crisis, it’s a good idea to form a franchisee association. It keeps everyone up-to-date with each other, creates a community, and creates a backup for ideas. It also creates a place to exchange and build ideas before taking them to the franchisor if an individual is looking to expand.
It’s relatively common for a franchise to have both: Franchisee council and association. Sometimes the lines between the two are a little blurred, and some groups have elements of both. It’s simply about finding what works for your situation.