Many franchisees were facing severe exploitation, while others required crucial business support and information. Some sought training opportunities. It became evident that in most franchise enterprises, franchisors were ill-equipped to provide adequate support or developmental guidance to their franchisees.
AAF took its formal shape during a conference held in Melbourne in October 2018. This event gathered franchisee representatives from various brands, alongside legal experts experienced in representing and supporting franchisees. Our constitution was duly finalised in early 2019.
Since then, AAF has been steadfastly committed to advocating for franchisees, working towards a fairer and more balanced franchising environment, and providing essential support to those who need it most.
The Australian Association of Franchisees (AAF) emerged alongside the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Inquiry (PJC) into franchising in 2018. During this time, several franchisee groups involved in the Inquiry recognised a significant gap: franchisees lacked an organised platform to voice their interests, unlike franchisors who had a long-established presence.
This realisation highlighted the inequity within the franchising industry, where franchisors wielded substantial influence over the regulatory process. This realisation prompted the need for change, not just at a broader industry level, but also at an individual franchisee level.
Our primary purpose is to provide a united voice for franchisees. This can relate to specific regulatory arrangements for franchisees, for example, the franchising code. Or, it can relate to other policy issues such as competition policy, taxation, or unfair contract terms legislation.
Our secondary purpose is to provide franchisees with the support they need. This can be around their rights and responsibilities, or how to manage disputes with their franchisor, including the coordination and representation of groups of franchisees in multi-party disputes with franchisors.
As AAF develops, we will also be able to provide support to franchisees around recruitment staff contracts, managing poor performance, and more. We will also provide cost effective advisory services concerning commercial and legal matters. We will also be exploring the potential for volume purchase discounts of products and services.
Why join and support AAF
The list of rights that franchisees currently lack is extensive and includes:
Control over goodwill, marketing funds, material sourcing, exclusive territories, lease management, pricing, franchisor sales, and protection in the event of franchisor insolvency.
By supporting us with your fee, you play a crucial role in enabling AAF to advocate for franchisees effectively. Your contribution directly supports our efforts to champion franchisee rights and influence legislative changes. This is particularly important during the current Code of Conduct Review, where we have a prime opportunity to drive meaningful change. Your fee empowers us to stand up for franchisees and create a fairer franchising environment.
How does AAF help franchisees
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AAF represents franchisees in a number of ways. We are a member of the ACCC Small Business and Franchising Committee. As such, we get directly involved in the thinking of the franchise code regulator. We have a strong and ongoing relationship with the Australian Small Business and Franchising Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO). ASBFEO administers the franchise mediation service and can undertake direct investigations of questionable franchisor behaviour.
Due to the nature of our role, we also enjoy very good access to Government Ministers and senior policy makers. We have represented franchises in a range of forums around policies of concern to franchisees.
As we develop our capacity, we will also support franchisees through a range of discounted services specifically for members.