Well it is that time of year ago when we head off to the International Franchise Association’s Annual Convention, this year in Orlando, USA.

This year we are taking with us Norm Dodds, Multi-Unit Franchisee (Southern Highlands region) and who is also the Chairman of our Franchisee Advisory Group.

So a couple of things…..

Firstly, you might be asking – what is a Franchisee Advisory Group?

We set this up quite some years ago and it is an important part of the Gutter-Vac franchise business.  We have 4 Franchisee representatives…. One is a rookie (in their first 2 years at Gutter-Vac), one is a single unit owner, one is a dual unit owner and one is a multi-unit owner in Gutter-Vac.  We have found that this combination not only gives a good representation of all the franchisees at Gutter-Vac, it also gives a lot of different perspectives and insights on how we can all improve together.

The Gutter-Vac Franchisee Advisory Group meets a few times a year.  At least twice in a full day sit down meeting and then another full meeting via teleconference and then when anything urgent or items that need to be addressed pop up, we jump on a teleconference to discuss, plus also a million emails in between!

The Franchisee Advisory Group is just that.  They are the representatives of ALL of the franchisees.  A safe place for the Franchisees to air any concerns to then be brought to me confidentially if the Franchisee doesn’t want to bring it up to me directly.  This doesn’t really happen because from the start at Gutter-Vac, I’ve always given my mobile number to everyone and they usually just call me directly.  More often than not, the agenda items the Franchisee Advisory Group representatives bring our ideas and suggestions.

As the Franchisor, I am the protector of the brand and must always look to protecting the Franchisees in Gutter-Vac.  This is the biggest way the Franchisee Advisory Group helps me in continuing the brand to grow and develop to benefit all of the franchisees.

The Franchisee Advisory Group representatives are able to give me feedback, help in discussions on ideas and thoughts, items that will affect all the franchisees and how we can make decisions to benefit all.  They test new initiatives before it is released to the brand and they are able to go back and get individual feedback from all of the franchisees.

Yes, initially it was set up to give the Franchisees a safe place to bring to light any issues or challenges, but because this hasn’t really been needed (although I still think it is good to have that structure there just in case) it has still be an extremely valuable part of Gutter-Vac and the benefit it has brought to everyone – the business, the franchisees, to me – has been amazing.

So that’s why I decided that this year, I’d bring Norm – as the Chairman of the Franchisee Advisory Group to the IFA convention with us.

I wanted to bring Norm so that – on behalf of ALL of the Franchisees – he could see and experience what is happening on a world stage with Franchising.  What other brands are doing.  Learn from some of the best and be immersed in Franchising – and big franchising – for a few days.

In the USA, because of the population, the franchise brands can be huge.  That is they can have hundreds, if not thousands of franchisees and so I wanted Norm to see for him and the Gutter-Vac Franchisees what they do to help Franchisees grow profitable businesses.  I hope he also learns just how great we do things at Gutter-Vac.  There is something to be said for the ability to have direct access to the Founder (me) and the amount of individual support we can provide at Gutter-Vac.

These are some of the reasons that I attend, along with members of the Gutter-Vac board (at corporate level) and some of our support team.  We all go there to LEARN so that we can gather new information or validation for what we are already doing and then bring it back to the team here in Australia.

It is an amazing convention with over 4,000 delegates!  World class speakers… this year that includes Simon Sinek, the author of ‘Start with Why?’ which our team is looking forward to hearing from.

When we get back, I’ll write a blog on what we learnt to share with you.