GF: What work does the European Franchise Federation do on behalf of the wider franchising community?
AG: Fundamentally, the EFF is here to do two things: build a community for the franchise industry in Europe, and be the voice of that community.
My immediate goal is to establish the EFF as a recognized player in Brussels, particularly during a time when the E.U. is regulating franchising for the next 12 years. We have a fairly short window of opportunity to do that, during the current revision of the vertical block exemption regulation. But I’ve been really encouraged by the commitment of our members in making sure policymakers understand franchising, what is unique about it, and therefore how best to legislate with our needs in mind.
Once we’re through the political lobby phase, raising the profile of franchising and telling our unique story will be top of mind. How we help inspire young people to get into the industry will be of enormous importance.
GF: What do you find personally fulfilling about the franchise model?
AG: I love to see risk-takers being rewarded. Recently, the French Franchise Federation was kind enough to let me take part in their national awards judging panel. Just reading the stories about former back-office staff or personal assistants who are now franchisees with their own outlets or looking after entire regions is so exciting.
“I love to see risk takers being rewarded”
Having worked in various multinational environments, you just don’t get to see people going through those experiences and actually seeing the fruits of their labor. Just walking into the store that you built, seeing the customers you bring in everyday, being served by the people you developed and helped grow – well, it doesn’t get any better than that.
GF: What are some of the main challenges facing European franchisors in 2021?
AG: Obviously for so many people 2021 is going to be about survival and being ready to adapt to change. Being mindful of the pressures on franchisees is going to be really important for franchisors, who will need to show understanding and flexibility for their situation. I think the most successful franchise concepts will do that anyway.
Anyone who started a new franchise in the last two years is going to go through a rollercoaster. The first year or two of operations require a good deal of patience from franchisors, as their franchisees are not necessarily going to be in a position to contribute more in fees over and above the investment the franchisor is putting in.
GF: What makes for an exemplary franchisor?
AG: As I’m still something of a newcomer, it would be a bit unfair to name any individuals, but I think being empathetic, being focused on other people’s needs, and total single-mindedness are traits that I associate with a number of franchisors I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with at the EFF.