The Oxford English dictionary defines Support as “to give or be ready to give help to somebody if they need it.” Twenty years ago, when we started First Class Accounts, Support was one of the key pillars we established our business model on. We define Support as being there for our franchisees, every single step of their business journey.
For most business franchise systems, to provide Support means to supply the franchised business with technical help or equipment. Perhaps they supply artwork for business cards or provide a generic business plan or How-To manuals. We have always prided ourselves on offering so much more than that level of Support.
Take the Business-As-Usual (i.e. pre-COVID-19) way we go about supporting and establishing our franchisees. We spend hours with our potential new franchises to make sure this is the right business for them, and they are the right fit for us. We help them obtain any certifications they might need to be a practising bookkeeper. We provide an initial nine-week intensive training course, with two weeks on on-site training in our Gold Coast offices. This is in addition to a comprehensive 13-week’ Kick Start’ business launch programme. We provide manuals and on-site training for marketing, and we connect our new franchisees to established franchisees to offer mentoring. We provide ongoing training with 4 x Regional Training Sessions a year, in addition to our annual conference. Plus we have advisory forums, members’ website with additional resources and training webinars available on-demand, as well as one-on-one business development meetings. We have been awarded five stars from FRANdata, the number one source for objective information and analysis on Franchise systems, not only for our financial performance and compliance but because of our outstanding engagement and Support.
At the core of all these measures, is individual Support. We cater to what individual franchisees need. We make sure they are completely comfortable with the business process, establishing business goals, setting fees, networking, talking to clients, dealing with complex problems. And we do that by establishing a connection to each Franchisee and creating a culture of open engagement and helpfulness.
Without our focus on Support, the disasters and curveballs that 2020 has thrown at us would have derailed so many of our franchisees’ businesses. Instead, we’ve maintained our contact with our franchisees and made sure, even in isolation, they are not alone. But this level of Support doesn’t just extend to our franchisees. Everyone we do business with here at First Class Accounts is treated like family. We chose to work with people who are not only experts in their field, but who are genuinely lovely people we care about. We keep in regular contact with our Victorian partners, so they know we are here for them, and we have negotiated work schedules to make sure they feel supported during this uncertain time. We make sure we check-in and touch base with everyone, to know they have a friendly ear if they need to talk – be it hash out a work problem or just to say hi.
That is what Support means to us. Not just the essentials that all small business owners should be provided with, but to us, Support means establishing real human contact and understanding. Making connections in the age of social distance has become both more accessible and more challenging, but going out of our way to make sure our franchisees, our business partners and our staff are OK has been our number 1 priority. We have spent 20 years, carving out our community and establishing a business that is like a family. Focusing on people has made that happen, and it will continue to be our main priority, long after COVID-19 has disappeared.