As an agency that supports franchise organizations, we’ve attended many conferences where we have been involved but can also observe the dynamics between owners, staff and management. Admittedly, conferences are complex, from logistics to content. From our experience, if you keep these five over-arching principles in mind, you will host a successful franchisee conference every time:
- Ask for Input – Seems obvious, but often overlooked. Include your Advisory Council, or put out an early call out for recommendations. This is an easy way to ensure all major challenges are addressed so staff does not appear to be steamrolling the corporate agenda.
Make a Clear Plan, Goals, Theme – Even a good conference can quickly fade to an overwhelming blur. Organize key objectives into a cohesive theme. It will be easier to market the event and it helps make the takeaways memorable. Key speakers should tie it all together, reprising core messages from breakout sessions.
Champion Best Practices – Your team doesn’t need to preach; showcase owners who are doing amazing things with the new profit center or overcoming common obstacles. Owners talking to owners can often convey, or at least reinforce, the stickiest points much more persuasively than staff or management can.
Keep it Fun, Interesting, Enthusiastic – The conference is a complete success if owners return home recharged, with renewed excitement to attack their business goals. It can’t be all fun and games, of course, but keep it positive. Even if tough talk is necessary, ultimately, owners need to be built up. They need to feel they are part of a great team that’s going to accomplish great things together.
- Allow for Quality Networking Time – Often 50% of conference value comes from connecting with business owners who understand you and your challenges. Make sure time is allowed for owners to meet and interact in meaningful ways. Receptions or dinners shouldn’t be too loud or completely filled with speeches, activities, or booze. Strike a good balance and this positive benefit happens all by itself.