14 Tips for Improving FAC Performance

Our continuous research into what drives excellence in franchise operations includes "quantitative" statistical and "action" research in the field. The following tips have been drawn from reflections of some senior franchisor executives on what has helped to improve the effectiveness of their FAC meetings.

14 tips for running FAC meetings:

1. Invest time with franchisee members outside of formal meetings to build rapport and align expectations. This is particularly important in the early stages of an FAC.

2. Continue to keep in touch with members between meetings. Show your respect and gratitude for their input by taking opportunities to speak with them on the phone or visiting their business.

3. Don't assume FAC members understand what you are trying to achieve in the bigger picture. Put time and energy into educating them on the principles and strategy behind your brand. This will help to stop discussions going off track or getting bogged down in irrelevant details.

4. Encourage FAC members to get involved testing new initiatives in their own businesses. This will help everyone to appreciate the practical benefits and challenges of rolling these out.

5. Practice good meeting mechanics including having a clear agenda that is agreed to and distributed prior to the meeting.

6. Set specific goals and actions during meetings and ensure these are documented, followed up between meetings and checked off at subsequent meetings.

7. The chairperson or facilitator should preferably not be involved in detailed discussions. It is difficult to have your head involved in running an effective meeting process while also providing technical input at the same time.

8. Listen with your ears and eyes. Show respect for others by remaining focused and attentive. If the energy level drops or people are distracted raise this with the group. You may need to take a break.

9. Allow enough time for both formal meetings and informal discussion outside the meetings, e.g. over a meal. Often the best breakthroughs occur outside the formal meeting. Many FACs run over two days so issues can be discussed over dinner the first night and actions noted the following day.

10. Ensure everyone is clear on power and control issues and remind people of these when necessary. In one group the franchisees believed that being a "sounding board" meant they were the Board and the franchisor was required to sound ideas off them for final approval!

11. Bring in outside experts from within and outslde of the company to stimulate fresh ideas and lively, constructive discussion on specific topics.

12. It is important that the convenor or chairperson retains an attitude of genuine learning and refrains from getting defensive when ideas presented are different to what they may believe at the time.

13. Encourage franchisees to have discussions with each other prior to meetings. This can be useful to help them clarify their thinking and be more prepared to contribute to discussions.

14. The franchisor team needs to practice good teamwork in and between meetings. Executives should attend parts of meetings relevant to their portfolio and be prepared to step in to help with the chairing of meetings if needed, e.g. if the chairperson needs to focus on presenting or discussing data or trends.

In summary the effectiveness of your FAC meetings can be significantly enhanced by effective leadership and investing in the relationships between the people who make up the Council.

Further excellent input on this topic can be found in our guide, “Making Franchise Advisory Councils Work”, available from the FRI online shop.

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