New register for franchise operators

While the general economic performance of Australian franchising is positive, the sector is still vulnerable to reports and often distorted perceptions about the credibility of the franchising business model.

Franchising is one of Australia’s most robust and successful sectors, boasting over 1,100 franchise systems, 70,000 franchised businesses and a contribution to gross domestic product of $131 billion annually. However, the cloud of uncertainty that persists over franchising because of a small but vocal minority who disregard the Franchising Code of Conduct continues to impact the wider sector and unfortunately there has been limited independent and reliable information available to disperse it.

This week Federal Small Business Minister Bruce Billson officially launched Australia’s first registry for franchise operators in front of founders and leaders of prominent Australian franchise brands, senior bankers, professional advisors, sector regulators and senior officers of the Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) – all of whom have directly or indirectly driven the demand for a franchise registry.  In fact, such a concept has long been mooted including parliamentary inquiries into franchising.

The Franchise Registry requires franchise brands to provide a current Disclosure Document and current Franchise Agreement each year, and also to confirm these documents comply with the Franchising Code of Conduct, in order to register. It’s this industry leadership and practice of transparency that will enhance the credibility of Australian franchising, improve franchisor compliance and give greater confidence to those looking to invest in franchising.

We were delighted to see Minister Billson support the initiative and its ability to aid decision-making in the franchising sector. The Federal Government has long had an appetite for better indicators of stability in franchising and the registry will be able to generate more meaningful data that they can use to enhance their support of the sector. The ACCC can also use more detailed information on the sector to focus resources on the real issues in franchising and justify its legislative forbearance.

With some of the lowest rates of franchisee disputes in the world, the FCA will also be able to use the broad and insightful data on the sector to put issues into context by highlighting credibility and strength in Australian franchising.

As a former finance lender in franchising, I know the registry will also improve a franchise brand’s finance lending potential by evidencing their commitment to closing the current information gaps that hinder the identification and assessment of key lending risks, helping both franchisees and franchisors access finance.

This is a real opportunity for franchise brands to protect and enhance the reputation of their industry and disperse the tainted views of franchising. It’s the opportunity to bridge the information gap in the sector and make it easier for potential franchisees looking to invest in franchising, and their advisors, to identify genuine and responsible franchise brands.  And fundamentally it’s about raising the standards and transparency in a sector that has grown into such a significant part of the Australian economy.

Darryn McAuliffe is CEO of objective information and analysis provider FRANdata, which administers The Franchise Registry
This article originally appeared at

Training key to engaging new pool in franchising

If you don’t have world-best training supported by accreditation in modern day franchising, then don’t bother getting out of bed.

Gen Y will make up around 40 per cent of the Australian workforce over the next five years and already we’re seeing a jump in people seeking larger business opportunities in franchising. Unless you’re offering a career pathway that is supported by robust training and the opportunity to obtain a national qualification, you’ll fail to engage this next wave of budding “intrapreneurs”.

It may mean incorporating existing accreditation into your training program or pioneering a new qualification for the particular industry in which you operate. We collaborated with federal government and an Industry Skills Council to introduce the very first national qualifications to the pool and spa care sector last year.

However, nationally recognising the expertise and skills in your training program has business benefits beyond boosting market visibility among franchisee prospects.

It provides greater meaning to your training program for both existing and new franchisees, and encourages a higher skills standard across your network. Retaining highly skilled and more experienced people in your business will strengthen your position as a market leader through an improvement in customer service.

It also strengthens the credibility of franchisees in their local markets by giving them more accountability for what they do and an additional way to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Franchising is one of Australia’s strongest sectors because the business model offers a flexible, supportive approach to start-up enterprises. Training is the opportunity to teach new techniques and technologies and learn about innovations in the industry – don’t waste it on archaic methods.

Investing in modern training equipment and facilities that enhance the delivery of your training and education are key to your franchise network receiving a greater depth and breadth of learning.

In a highly competitive market, offering prospective franchisees the opportunity to enter an industry with the best training out there and a nationally recognised certificate gives them a huge boost at the start of their franchising journey.

This article from our client, John O’Brien, founder and CEO of pool and spa care franchise Poolwerx, first appeared on Fairfax’s Brisbane Times website.

Short-term pressure equals long-term gains

Ella-bache retail

Some commentators have said the 2014 budget is ‘tough but fair’ on businesses and consumers. I  agree to an extent – both from a retailer’s and CEO’s perspective.

While in the short-term the measures may put some immediate pressure on small business owners, I think this will be overtaken by the long-term benefits. Most importantly for retailers, the gain will be increased consumer confidence brought about by the assurance Australia’s economy is, in their eyes, ‘on-the-up’.

For now, making cuts to lower the budget deficit will mean less disposable income for many. However, we also know public sector spending needs to reduce. The government must drop its spending without dampening consumer confidence.

By the time many of the measures take full effect, the hope is consumer confidence will be stronger than ever, as will the government’s willingness to spend.

The health of the retail sector depends on consumer confidence. Retail sales has been growing over the past year, so it’s imperative the government reassures retailers its long-term strategy isn’t just rhetoric and actually delivers for retailers.

As for the immediate impact, it’s going to be a very different story depending on where you sit on the retail spectrum. Small businesses operating at the higher or premium-end will remain strong as household budgets tighten, with consumers looking to spend on durable, high-quality purchases that will last.

Those operating at the lower end of the scale may be hit hardest at the outset as families and those receiving government benefits rethink every dollar spent. This will obviously be a huge concern for many small business operators falling into that category.

So what can small businesses in the retail sector do to put themselves ahead of the competition? My advice would be to continually innovate so loyal customers are given a reason to keep coming back.

Equally as important is the personal touch. People like people, so making sure the service you offer is second-to-none will stand you in good stead for the future. Your customers will tell their friends and family about you, helping your reputation, which will last well beyond the next few years.

Ultimately, we need to do all we can until the economic foundations of the country are stronger. If consumer spending is going to take a hit, we need to give consumers a compelling reason to shop with us. If your small business is going to prosper in the future, set the framework now. It’ll pay back well when the economic outlook is a little healthier.

This article from our client Pippa Hallas, CEO of leading beauty salon franchise Ella Baché, first appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald website.

What goes into the perfect PR stunt?



How do you raise awareness and drive trial of something as simple as a new mango and lime flavoured chicken? You nick a giant mango from the tropics of Queensland and days later, once the story has borne its fruit in the media, you bring it to Federation Square for the world to see, of course.

This is exactly what Nando’s Australia did recently, resulting in mass media exposure and the heist dubbed #mangogate spreading like wildfire across social channels.

Morning shows picked up a story on the theft of Bowen’s famous Big Mango first up on Monday, with news outlets across the globe catching wind of the fruity robbery over the coming days. Needless to say #mangogate was trending on twitter. By Thursday, the mango popped up in Melbourne’s Federation Square, along with Nando’s accepting culpability for the gimmick and promo staff handing out pieces of chicken. Introduce: round two media reports.

While media exposure continues to be calculated in the wake of mango madness at Nando’s HQ, and the video revealing the heist on their official Facebook page continues to soar past 270,000 views, we can be certain of one thing. Stolen fruit really is sweetest. This was a well-executed stunt.

So what goes into a PR stunt these days? In few words: good idea, #talkability and content.

1. Good stunts start with a good, memorable idea. Mangogate was built upon a very clear, simple and brilliant connection between highlighting the mango flavour of the new product and stealing Australia’s most famous mango.

2. Everyone could #engage with the drama. The hashtag #mangogate was quirky and gave people the ability to easily talk about the top story of the day. Memes were uploaded by people to Bowen’s Big Mango Facebook page, and one guy even posted an image of the Big Mango on Gumtree for sale.

3. The stunt included content that never expired. With Nando’s filming the entire heist for the ‘big reveal’ and posting photos of the product trials in Federation Square, the creation of the #mangogate hashtag and countless user-generated posts, and hundreds of news stories now seeded across the inter-webs, this stunt won’t be quickly forgotten.

Here are some other good stunts in recent years from Australian franchises:

McDonald’s Australia “Macca’s” – for Australia Day 2013, McDonald’s name-changed thirteen stores to “Macca’s”, all with new signage. The gimmick was part of an integrated campaign supported by ABT and BTL activities.

KFC goes green and gold – what better way to engage Australia in the fight for the Ashes Urn, and leverage your sponsorship of Cricket Australia, then to give five flagship stores a green and gold face-lift and put Aussie and English burgers on the menu.

Jim’s Mowing “MoAthon” – in November 2013, 150 Jim’s Mowing franchisees took part in “MoAthon” from Hobart to Brisbane as part of the franchise’s national Push for Change campaign. The year before they mowed the world’s biggest grass moustache. We love a world record attempt!

Ignite PR works with Australia’s leading franchise brands to both increased brand awareness and improved franchise development. Contact us today. 

FCA Regional Award submissions open soon


With regional categories for the Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) Excellence in Franchising Awards set to open in the coming days, it’s time to start thinking about how your franchise measures up.

We’ve discussed in the past what it takes to write a strong award submission and how to leverage an award win. For brands in the franchising sector, there is no better opportunity to highlight individual success stories within your system than by submitting a regional entry for the FCA Excellence in Franchising Awards.

The variety of categories allow you to showcase the role women play in your franchise network, highlight top-performing franchisees across multiple levels (multi-unit, two or more staff or up to one staff member), prove the strength field managers add to your system or shed light on community service franchisees perform.

Success in these awards can boost visibility in the media, increase morale and engagement within your franchise, and increase recognition as a leading franchise within the industry as well as in front of prospective franchisees.

Having developed a number of successful submissions on behalf of our clients over the years, there are a few things we’d like to share about FCA Awards…

1.    It’s not all about turnover – while financial performance is a great indication of success, it’s not the only indication. Improvement in performance and the systems in place that promote growth, business tracking, marketing efficacy and community contribution are equally as important as turnover and profit growth.

 2.    Strong submissions take time – the criteria for each award category is comprehensive and responses take time to develop. A typical submission will take 2-3 weeks to develop including gathering supporting materials, financial figures, proofing, editing and final submission. The process always takes longer than expected, so don’t leave it until it’s too late!

 3.    Gather input from everyone – input may be required by everyone from the franchisee and field support through to marketing team, operations and franchisor. The greater the contribution the better chance you have of unearthing information that adds strength to the submission.

Good luck with your regional submissions this year.

Ignite PR has written successful FCA award submissions for categories including National Franchisee of the Year (Multi-unit), National Field Manager of the Year,  and National Established Franchisor of the Year. For more information about entering the FCA Awards and developing a strong submission, please contact us here.

Engaging future franchisees through Thought Leadership

Image source -

Image source –

While some franchises have long realised the benefits of thought leadership as a communications tactic, many still fail to embrace it.

Thought leadership can shape thinking around the nature of a franchise, reveal its corporate culture, and introduce new ideas to the industry that might be important to a franchise’s future. Ultimately, it can demonstrate that a franchise’s expertise is driven by a deep understanding of its own work and the sector.

It can also be used to support one of the most fundamental challenges for franchisors – attracting quality franchise recruits suitable for the next wave of growth. One of the key drivers in a person’s decision to purchase a franchise is their respect for the franchisor’s drive and passion for the business. Thought leadership provides an excellent way to help a brand engage and resonate with potential new franchisees by sharing its vision.

So how can thought leadership be deployed effectively to engage next gen franchising?

Fortunately Australia’s $128 billion franchising industry is extremely dynamic. With long-term trends forcing franchisors to plan for the future, they have the opportunity to demonstrate their appreciation of future economic challenges, rising above company-specific issues to provide industry or national leadership on broader topics and trends.

A growth strategy encouraging independent operators to join a franchise system might mean good thinking around the increasing costs and complexities associated with operating an independent business or how to embrace e-commerce in the current retail environment. If you’re targeting corporate career changers, thinking might involve insights into the reasons underpinning why a significant number of highly experienced corporate executives are turning to the franchising sector.

However, like most communication strategies thought leadership has its rules. Original, good thinking is critical. Using research will ensure it is not only original, but comprehensive and relevant to the target audience. Effective thought leadership also requires a commitment of time from the executive management team, and collaboration with a good PR team to ensure thinking not only resonates with your target audience but also has cut through in the current media landscape.

Ignite PR works with Australia’s leading franchise brands providing strategic communications advice leading to both increased brand awareness and improved franchise development. Contact us today. 

PR’s role in modern day franchising

CEO Champions: boosting visibility of senior leaders

CEO Champions: boosting visibility of senior leaders

Franchising and small business is a pretty dynamic sector of Australia’s economy, and that’s why we’re pretty excited to hear our clients speak of increases in consumer confidence. It means franchisors can start investing more in communications, to explore new ways to cut through the diverse and ever-changing media landscape.

While we’ve been exploring the following elements with our clients over the past few years, here are our thoughts on some trends we believe are shaping PR’s new role in modern day franchising in Australia.

  • Storytelling – Beyond boasting average sales growth or profit margins across the network, the prospective pool of candidates wants to know who your successful franchisees are, how long they’ve been with you, why they are successful and what skills they came with. These stories are far stronger than your product, and PR people will unearth those that are strongest separating your proposition from that of your competitors.
  • CEO Visibility – The very best franchise leaders will be those who dedicate time to helping PR succeed. This might mean making themselves available to offer industry business insights, or validating why their organisation supports its chosen causes. The leadership communicated to stakeholders through high CEO visibility, as we like to call it, also proves invaluable in attracting new franchise recruits, because passion attracts passion.
  • Visual Communication – While the press release is far from ‘dead’ in Australia, the point is brands using interesting and engaging multimedia such as videos and infographics are ahead of the rest. There’s more to media than printed news stories, and modern day PRs are multi-skilled with the ability to put together a video, from scripting to filming, editing and distribution with the same strategic thinking.
  • Thought Leadership – Leading franchisors have the unique opportunity to establish thought leadership in their respective industry. The right communications professionals have a strong understanding of what makes media tick, allowing them to create the thought leadership on your behalf.
  • Social Media – You may have a social presence, but it’s not merely enough. If your social activity doesn’t include strategies for energising and engaging your fans and followers across the key platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you’re stuck in the past.

PR communications is one of the most powerful ways to do something that is so fundamental in the franchising industry – sharing your company’s story and success with the right audience. Understanding it and utilising it to achieve your corporate goals will be a worthy investment in 2014.

Ignite PR works with Australia’s leading franchise brands providing strategic communications advice leading to both increased brand awareness and improved franchise development. Contact us today. 

CSR and reputation in franchising


CSR is fundamental in managing reputation

Over the past decade, more and more companies have turned to corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies to manage their reputation. Ignite PR has helped many Australian franchises leverage CSR initiatives to not only build stronger consumer awareness of their brand but also to attract suitable franchise recruits who share the same values.

However, gone are the days of simply supporting a cause – be it training, employment, or sustainability – and leveraging it for reputation gain. Add-on CSR strategies don’t establish long term credibility and in some cases may even do the opposite. Changing social attitudes also spark new consumer expectations around CSR meaning companies have to address these changes.

So what does this mean for Australian franchising?

The first challenge is how to use CSR as a means to differentiate from competition while still maximising business benefits. Franchises will need to develop their own way of doing CSR that is consistent with both their core values and unique position in the industry. It needs to go beyond a food franchise educating people around healthy eating or coffee franchises supporting ethically and sustainably sourced coffee beans. An effective CSR program will make consumers feel good beyond the product or service they’ve purchased by supporting a company that supports a cause they believe in.

CSR can also be the difference when it comes to franchise recruitment. In a period when finding suitable franchisees is more difficult than ever, the reputation of a franchise is crucial. It’s about giving prospective franchisees another reason to invest in your brand beyond income potential or support offered. The culture that exists within your franchise and your corporate behaviour provide a great indication of the values you hold, helping to attract the people you actually want in your system.

The challenge is how to tackle CSR into the future.

CSR needs to be consistent with your franchise’s core values and supported by the entire network. It also needs to be a long term program – add-on CSR strategies won’t do much for your reputation if elsewhere you’re perceived to be contributing negatively. CSR should start at the boardroom table and be included in your business strategy, setting the tone at the top and incorporating CSR into business objectives and responsibilities of franchisees.

As franchises strive to become closer to their customers – whether through old and new media or digital marketing – CSR will bear greater importance in managing reputation as expectation of your corporate behaviour also increases.

You’re a winner. Congrats. Now what?

Maximising business award sucess

If you’ve just been voted the best in your industry, and you really are the best, you should know to leverage your podium position for all it’s worth.

Whether it’s operational excellence, marketing expertise or innovation, or a combination of all of these, highlighting a company’s core strengths will help improve its reputation. However, doing so with cut-through in a dynamic media world can be a challenge.

So how do you leverage an award win for maximum gain?

We’re glad you asked. PR has always been effective in building credibility for brands through – among other things – communicating key messages to target audiences. It’s no different when it comes to maximising an award win. PR people will extract the interesting information from a company’s success story and use it in a compelling way that actually generates awareness and credibility for the brand.

While you can’t straight up say you’re the ‘industry leader’ and expect people to believe you, good PR people will help you determine and develop key messages, identify your audiences, and then marry the two together through developing communication tactics that position your company in the public domain with this objective in mind.

For the past two years we’ve written successful award submissions for our franchise clients in the NAB Excellence in Franchising Awards and then gone on to leverage them to boost their company profiles and support franchise development. In fact, leveraging success at a local level and national level has been significant in helping our franchise clients attract high quality franchise candidates and grow their businesses in a competitive environment.

Here are a few of our tips on leveraging success:

1. Message (the what you’re saying bit)

Why have you been recognised? Cut to the core of why you’ve been recognised. It’s about the hard-hitting strategy underpinning success that media wants to report on, not that you provide unbeatable customer service.

2. Audience (the who you want to/should talk to bit)

You may have a larger audience than you first think. It’s not just about the people buying your products or services. It’s also about the people who work for your organisation, your suppliers, and other stakeholders who have an interest in your company.

3. Tactics (the magical part where the two link)

Media announcement – Taking your success story to mainstream media requires a different approach to industry media. The two have different interests and therefore your story needs to be told differently. PR people will help you do this.

Internal/stakeholder engagement ­– What’s going to resonate well with your stakeholders? Is it a simple story in the next newsletter or is it a short, sharp video production that visually showcases the personality behind the brand. Content is again key here.

New media opportunities – You’re the best, so position yourself as the best. Use your new credibility to seek new media opportunities for your key spokespeople to share your company’s leadership and industry insights.

If you’d like further advice on entering your company into business awards or leveraging your achievements, please get in touch with us here.

Ignite PR has successfully entered its clients into awards including FCA Excellence in Franchising Awards, BRW Fast Franchises List, Telstra Business Awards, BRW Fast Starters, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, BRW ANZ Private Business Awards and ActionCOACH My Business Awards.

Maximise award wins in the media

PR tips for award winners

Many of the key business and franchise awards are being announced and if you have been successful the win provides an excellent platform for PR exposure, especially in your local area. A lot of time and perhaps money was no doubt spent on preparing your submission so make sure you get the most out of your award win.  

Business achievements are well worth talking about and an excellent way to engage with your local customer base.

The success of a local business is generally of interest to the media but if you don’t share your news, you can’t enjoy the benefits of PR, so here are a few tips to prepare and maximise the opportunity for media interest in an award win.

Spokesperson and key messages:

Make sure you have nominated a brand spokesperson who is happy to talk to media and has a sound knowledge of the business. Whatever the criteria was for the award be willing to share detail with the media to prove why you deserved the win. Sales and growth figures aren’t always necessary but a % growth figure is always good to prove the financial success of your business, without giving away too much to competitors. Highlight any key initiatives or community programs that you participated in. Basically let the media know the five top reasons you received the award.

Preparation is the key: 

Preparing a release in anticipation of a win is sensible, as media hate old news so be ready to go with a professional release. If there were a lot of categories it is important to make clear your point of difference and have a strong lead. Once you have pitched your story the follow up is just as important, keep on top of your contact or your story might get lost in the hundreds of emails journalists receive each day. 


Low resolution, dated branding, closed eyes or wardrobe malfunctions are all common photo mistakes. Having a great photo is just as important as the story itself. Make sure you have a nice professional shot of the award acceptance or try a great shot in front of your store with clear branding.

Social Media:

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are perfect ways to talk to both consumers and industry peers about your success. Always include a #tags with Twitter or Instagram (e.g. #ignitepr #businessawards etc…) or the best way to get your post noticed on Facebook is an excellent photo.

Give the win life:

Apart from PR you can spread the word about your win by marketing it through a range of other mediums. Many awards come with a special logo that you can use so maximise it as much as possible. For example: put a news item about the win on your website homepage; include details in your email signature and on collateral i.e. brochures, letterhead etc; put a poster or sticker of the win in your shopfront; include details about it in a customer newsletter or letter to clients.

You’ve got to be in it to win in it and talking to a PR agency about the process can alleviate a lot of the stress in preparing a submission and harnessing the right coverage afterwards. Entering awards isn’t just about winning but also about being seen amongst the best in your industry, community or category. It also provides a great opportunity for you to review your business and processes and provide you with ideas to improve it.  If you want further advice on how to maximise a recent win or you are thinking about entering any awards Ignite PR can guide you through the process.