The Value of a supportive franchisee network in franchise opportunities
Michael Fisher| Director and COO | First Class Accounts
Looking for a supportive environment in potential franchise opportunities can be highly beneficial on many levels. We caught up with Michael Fisher, Director and Chief Operating Officer of First Class accounts, who explained the immense importance and value of fostering a culture of mutual support among franchisees within a network.
First Class Accounts is Australia's largest bookkeeping franchise with an extensive national network of professional bookkeepers who operate their own businesses.
When considering potential franchise opportunities, the value of a great peer support network should not be overlooked. Being part of a large franchise network enables the sharing of knowledge and experience between franchisees and this in effect becomes a valuable informal resource which supplements the formal support and resources provided by the Franchisor.
But size of a network alone does not make for peer support. The franchisor needs to provide forums and opportunities to facilitate peer communication and interaction. At First Class Accounts one of the elements in our Mission statement is that ‘We make our working environment rewarding and fun for everyone who is involved in and around our business.’ So we are proud that we in fact all “walk the talk!”
"Working from home as a sole business practitioner can be lonely at times and motivation can falter. The mutual support and encouragement that is derived from a supportive culture is inestimable in its value"
One of the forums for peer support that has been enthusiastically adopted by our franchisees is our “Yammer” intranet forum – an application they access on their smartphones or computers wherever they may be – at their office or at a client – for real time response from both peers or national office. Technical questions and answers (and even birthday greetings!) are exchanged throughout the day.
Working from home as a sole business practitioner can be lonely at times and motivation can falter. The mutual support and encouragement that is derived from a supportive culture is inestimable in its value.
Our buddy or mentoring programs supplement the formal training and field support activities, As there are franchisees who may be at different levels in their professional development, senior franchisees are available for help and advice where they may have particular experience such as with a client in a certain industry sector or with a specialised payroll application.
Franchisees look forward to our regular regional face to face group meetings. And the highlight of the year is the National Conference, where the buzz of camaraderie is quite exhilarating.
In the bookkeeping industry in general over half of all bookkeepers are independent and work in isolation; they do not have the network’s resources, knowledge or support structure behind them, and they lack the benefits of the social aspects which can be found in a supportive franchise network.
The level of support between franchisees and whether franchisees are viewed as colleagues or competitors within a system are really important aspects to look at when evaluating franchise systems. A supportive network will provide better opportunity for you to grow as an individual and enable you to provide better service to your clients.
Within First Class Accounts our franchisees consider the other franchisees as colleagues rather than competitors. When one is ill or wishes to take an extended holiday, someone in the network is sure to step up to assist. We endeavour to ensure that new franchisees who join our network will fit this culture.
Having a supportive culture works to the benefit of our end clients. Our bookkeeper’s effectiveness and accuracy is maximised, as they focus on the client’s work, rather than having the client pay for their time wasted on internet searches or on lengthy on-hold waits for help from government departments.
In summary, whichever franchise opportunities you may be considering, in doing your due diligence look for systems that actively encourage a supportive peer network. So you should talk to a number of franchisees in that system. A recommendation from an existing franchisee and their willingness to help you may well be the best measure of the prospect for your success and satisfaction as a member of that franchise.