By Mary Aldred, CEO, Franchise Council of Australia.
A lot has changed over the past months.
Our businesses and community have had to face the massive challenges created by restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19.
For the FCA, it has meant stepping up our advocacy and activity to represent members’ interests and concerns to government while delivering timely information, business advice and practical support to help meet the trading and workplace challenges.
The response from our members has been terrific, including more than a hundred emails and messages of thanks and congratulations, as well as significant positive feedback from government and media.
We have taken a strong public stance on the key issues which have impacted on the sustainability of franchising and small business, and the wellbeing of owners, managers and staff.
Some of the key platforms have been:
the need for rental relief and government intervention as some landlords refused to negotiate despite the plight of their tenants, especially in retailing;
the need for tangible government support for businesses to help maintain staff and supplement their income as trading revenue evaporated;
assisting with expert advice on managing staff working from home, including maintaining their commitment, morale and mental health; and
calling on the big food delivery networks experiencing a huge lift in volumes to help the struggling food retail and hospitality groups rather than profiteer.
currently making strong representations to the Federal Government on the issue of redefining casual workers, and we are hopeful of an improved result.
Small businesses have been hit hard by COVID-19 and although restrictions are starting to be eased, the impacts on individual businesses and the economy nationally will be felt for some time.
The FCA is continuing to work closely with government and other industry peak bodies to ensure that the voice of franchising and small business is heard by government as we head down the path to economic recovery.
COVID-19 is presenting unprecedented challenges to franchise businesses, and the Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) is absolutely focussed on doing everything possible to support members through this period.
Proactively engaging with government and advocating on the key issues that are affecting members.
Participating as a member of the Federal Department of Treasury’s Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit, which has been formed by the Government to engage with peak business groups on systemic issues relating to Coronavirus.
Advocating for immediate cash relief and assistance for small businesses and retailers in commercial leasing arrangements.
Working closely with our expert partner, ER Strategies on providing advice to our members on best practice management of staff in response to COVID-19.
Delivering regular updates including best practice advice and resources to assist members on a day-to-day business level.
The FCA will continue to provide resources, representation and ongoing support to members during this pandemic.
The bushfires that spread across large areas of Australia at the start of the year devastated countless individuals, communities and businesses. The franchise sector generously showed its support for bushfire relief efforts, raising money and donating goods and services to assist those affected by the fires.
Foodco’s fundraising efforts resulted in more than $90,000 being raised for charity.
Muffin Break’s commitment to donate $1 for every lamington product sold during January raised more than $65,000 to support the Australian Wildlife Rescue Organisation (WIRES) in rescuing and caring for the innocent animals caught in fire-devastated areas.
Sales of 21,297 lamington products during January were matched with a dollar for dollar donation from Muffin Break’s parent company, Foodco, with more than $12,000 raise from in-store donation boxes and a further $10,000 donated by Muffin Break’s partner, Darrell Lea.
Jamaica Blue also raised $13,003 from fundraising efforts, with parent company Foodco also matching the amount, to support Australian Red Cross disaster relief efforts.
The Tabcorp Group, through FCA member The Lott, raised $1.8 million towards bushfire recovery and relief efforts through their Saturday Lotto Bushfire Benefit Draw on 25 January.
FCA members including McGrath Estate Agents, Ray White, RE/MAX Australia and Harcourts Australia came together as part of the Beyond the Bricks real estate industry initiative to support bushfire affected communities, raising more than $1 through the campaign.
Gelatissimo raised almost $50,000 for the St Vinnies Bushfire Appeal by donating $1 from every scoop sold on 18th January across their 48 stores and committed a further $50,000 to support Vinnies Australia in in assisting communities to recover and rebuild.
Chatime and its franchisees have made a $50,000 donation to the Australian Red Cross. In addition, until 31st March, Chatime will be running a ‘Round It Up’ program across its 124 T-Breweries across the country, allowing customers to round up purchases to the nearest dollar with every cent donated will going directly to the Red Cross to aid the people and the communities impacted by the crisis.
Fergusson Plarre have created a Gingerbread Firefighter to support the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. All proceeds of from sales of the Gingerbread Firefighters are being donated to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal, with more than 29,000 being raised by the end of January.
Specsavers committed to donate $100,000 from sales in January to support Australian bushfire relief through the NSW Rural Fire Service, Victorian Bushfire Relief Appeal, SA State Emergency Relief Fund and the Salvation Army Disaster Appeal.
La Porchetta raised $9765 for the Victorian Bushfire appeal through donating $1 from every pizza sold on 11th-12th January.
Helloworld h donated 10 truckloads of hay (2000 bales) and 575,000 litres of water through the Buy a Bale charity, helping farmers impacted by the drought and bushfires.
Bakers Delight raised over $225,000 to support those affected by the bushfires through initiatives including: donating $1 from every 6-Pack of Hot Cross Buns sold to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund from 16-29 January, matched dollar-for-dollar from head office. Bakers Delight also provided bread and snacks to firefighters, volunteers, evacuees and animals in affected areas and donated bread to bushfire relief fundraising events.
PACK & SEND recently made a donation of $10,000 to the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal and further donations have been made by PACK & SEND franchisee partners.
McDonald’s Australia have supported the bushfire appeal by: donating $500,000 to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund, and matching employee donations; implementing in-restaurant donations; and providing free meals and bottled water to firefighters and community members in impacted areas.
Quest Apartment Hotels donated of $10,000 to bushfire relief and established a GoFundMe page to encourage further donations from franchisees, suppliers and other stakeholders.
JAX Tyres customers and store teams around the country helped to raise over $75,000 for the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund. In January through donations from tyre sales.
7-Eleven committed $250,000 to support bushfire relief efforts, allocating this money to the bushfire relief efforts in NSW and Victoria, and for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation across both states.
Aussie Pooch Mobile Dog Wash donated a bulk quantity of blankets and toys to the Rescue Collective, while Aussie Pooch Mobile groomers washed fire victims’ dogs free of charge, donated money and helped out in any other way they could.
Nando’s committed $50,000 to Foodbank Australia to help provide food and groceries to those who urgently need them.
BNI Foundation Australia fundraised to support families with children affected by the bushfires, receiving donations from 10 different countries. The franchise has provided grants to families to help acquire children’s clothes, uniforms, shoes and school supplies so they can get back to school with the essentials.
Winner of the FCA’s 2019 Franchisor Social Responsibility Award, Muffin Break, has made an ongoing commitment to sustainability by reducing the coffee cup waste stream.
“Over five years ago as a team, Muffin Break decided that landfill was not going to be our legacy and we went about finding a partner that would help us change the game in relation to sustainability,” said Natalie Brennan, General Manager of Muffin Break.
In August 2018, Muffin Break partnered with coffee cup recycling program, Simply Cups, to divert 11 million takeaway coffee cups from Australia’s landfill in an initiative that sees Muffin Break pay to have one cup recycled by Simply Cups for every takeaway coffee or hot drink sold by the franchise.
In addition, Muffin Break offers a 30-cent discount on coffee for customers every time they bring in a reusable cup for their hot beverage.
The franchise has also changed from black lids to white lids on their take-away cups to improve recycling outcomes and reduce the impact on Australia’s landfill, as well as removing single-use plastic bags, plastic straws and plastic cutlery and replacing these with more sustainable options across the network.
Muffin Break has also focused on educating kids on the topic of sustainability by running Little Grower workshops, where children are taught how to plant and care for a seedling which they get to take home at the end of the workshop.
“Our franchisees have been really behind the whole process of sustainability. They’re the ones who have driven it,” said Brennan.
“A big thank you to MYOB and FCA this Award but I hope that it might be one of the last awarded. Our hope is that sustainability is not special, it’s just business as usual.”
Extracted from article originally published in issue 4 of The Franchise Review 2019, the Official Journal of the Franchise Council of Australia.
The Franchise Review spoke to InXpress Australia & New Zealand’s Asia Pacific Franchise Development Director, David Wilkinson, to find out how the shipping and logistics franchise uses a transparent sales process to attract and recruit the best candidates.
According to Wilkinson, implementing a clear, transparent and documents sales process is fundamental to enhancing the brand’s reputation with potential franchisees.
“The greatest benefit with presenting candidates with a clear and documented process is that they feel comfortable in pursuing information about the brand and business model, without the concern of having signed a binding upfront agreement. Ultimately, the best candidates are the ones that are educated and informed, having taken the right amount of time to do their research and due diligence,” he says.
“For us it shouldn’t ever feel like a sales process. It should feel like a journey of discovery. The process really puts candidates in the driver’s seat in terms of education and awareness but also allows them to go along on this journey of discovery and start to build a really good understanding of our business model and practices,” Wilkinson says.
“The biggest concern for many of our candidates is that we’re going to try and sell them something when they’re not ready, or they don’t know enough to decide if this is the right business for them. We can avoid this pitfall by allowing the candidate to enter a process of education and discovery by offering them a clear, transparent and well documented process at the very beginning,” Wilkinson says.
“Most franchisors will have a franchise sales process which will be documented; however, many don’t share it with candidates as part of the introductory phase. They’re presented with bite sized steps as they progress. My learnings have been that the more transparent we are with our candidates, the better the quality information they will provide us,” Wilkinson says.
Extracted from article originally published in issue 4 of The Franchise Review 2019, the Official Journal of the Franchise Council of Australia.
The Franchise Council of Australia has welcomed the Queensland Government’s implementation of the national commercial leasing code. This follows the ACCC’s recent decision to allow tenants to collectively bargain with landlords if they’ve been adversely affected by COVID-19, which has also been welcomed by the FCA.
FCA CEO Mary Aldred says the ACCC’s decision recognising the urgency for retailers and landlords to collectively negotiate rent relief is an excellent outcome following the joint application to the ACCC by the FCA with the National Retail Association, Australian Hotels Association and the Pharmacy Guild.
The FCA had also directly raised concerns with Queensland Small Business Minister Shannon Fentiman that franchisees who had their head lease held by their franchisor may not be covered under the national leasing code principles where the franchisor was above the $50,000 threshold set by JobKeeper eligibility. This meant many franchisees would be excluded from being able to access provisions in the code, such as the proportionality principle, where a drop in turnover caused by the current COVID-19 economic environment should be met by a commensurate reduction in rent.
According to Ms Aldred, Queensland’s implementation of the national commercial leasing code sets out the most balanced and fair playing field for small businesses and franchisees in the country. State parliaments around Australia are currently implementing the national commercial leasing code, agreed to by the National Cabinet process.
“Small businesses have been hit hard by COVID-19 and although restrictions are starting to be eased, the impacts of COVID-19 on individual businesses and the economy nationally will be felt for some time,” says Ms Aldred.
“The ACCC’s decision to allow tenants and landlords to get together and collectively negotiate outcomes that optimise businesses’ ability to meet rental obligations will support their ongoing sustainability. “
“On behalf of thousands of small businesses, we also thank Minister Fentiman and the Queensland Government for being willing to listen to feedback from small business and respond by ensuring there is a fair and level playing field set for everyone. This will give mum and dad small businesses owners in Queensland every shot at making it through the current Covid-19 environment to the other side,” said Ms Aldred.
Under the JobKeeper Payment announced by the Federal Government, businesses significantly impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak will be able to access a subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees.
This assistance is designed to help businesses to keep people in their jobs and re-start when the crisis is over.
The JobKeeper Payment is a subsidy to businesses, which will keep more Australians in jobs through the course of the coronavirus outbreak.
The payment will be paid to employers, for up to six months, for each eligible employee that was on their books on 1 March 2020 and is retained or continues to be engaged by that employer.
Where a business has stood down employees since 1 March, the payment will help them maintain connection with their employees.
Employers will receive a payment of $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee. Every eligible employee must receive at least $1,500 per fortnight from this business, before tax.
The program will commence today, 30 March 2020, with the first payments to be received by eligible businesses in the first week of May as monthly arrears from the Australian Taxation Office. Eligible businesses can begin distributing the JobKeeper payment immediately and will be reimbursed from the first week of May.
Eligible employers will be those with annual turnover of less than $1 billion who self-assess that have a reduction in revenue of 30 per cent or more, since 1 March 2020 over a minimum one-month period.
Employers with an annual turnover of $1 billion or more would be required to demonstrate a reduction in revenue of 50 per cent or more to be eligible. Businesses subject to the Major Bank Levy will not be eligible.
Eligible employers include businesses structured through companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders. Not for profit entities, including charities, will also be eligible.
Full time and part time employees, including stood down employees, would be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment. Where a casual employee has been with their employer for at least the previous 12 months they will also be eligible for the Payment. An employee will only be eligible to receive this payment from one employer.
Eligible employees include Australian residents, New Zealand citizens in Australia who hold a subclass 444 special category visa, and migrants who are eligible for JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance (Other).
Self-employed individuals are also eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment.
Bushfires across Australia are affecting many parts of the country. The impact on businesses and communities has been devastating, with many workplaces and individuals affected by the bushfires and smoke.
There are a number of workplace rights and entitlements for employers and employees affected by natural disasters or seeking to access leave, with a comprehensive list of resources and links available on the Fair Work Ombudsman website, including those relating to:
Workplace health and safety
Pay during stand down
Flexible working arrangements
Emergency and useful contacts
To access this information, click here (external link).
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has released a discussion paper, seeking feedback on developing a best practice framework for small businesses facing insolvency and for practitioners managing external administrations.
“In releasing this discussion paper, we’ve outlined the key pain points for small businesses as well as the challenges for registered liquidators.
“In the meantime, this discussion paper poses a number of questions we are seeking feedback on, particularly around the transparency of the insolvency process,” said Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell.
Submissions close on Monday 27 January 2020, with the final report due date at the end of March 2020.