Franchisee conferences are often one of the most valuable tools in a franchisor’s arsenal. A successful franchisee conference can deliver critical training, bring clarity, and orient teams toward high performance when they return home. You can deliver an excellent franchisee conference if you implement some or all of the following ideas.
Set the expectation that all franchisees should attend the conference
They are sometimes seen as optional, but they should form an integral part of the franchisee’s annual planning. Schedule the conference a year in advance to allow plenty of preparation time and choose a time of year that will see the conference deliver the most impact. Providing motivation, focus and product training in the lead up to your company’s peak season can see significant results.
Encourage franchisees to prepare for the conference
They may not have time to prepare large reports or study notes, but they may benefit from a few prompting questions about what they want to get out of the conference, and any goals they’d like to achieve. It may relate to networking, getting out of a comfort zone, learning something new or sharing information with new franchisees.
Conference logistics and content
When it comes to the conference itself there are two key areas you want to get right: logistics and content. Engage a conference and events specialist to manage the logistics of your event. Industry experts can bring a 5-star experience together for you in less time than a team from inside your business (and it leaves your team free to concentrate on content creation in the lead up to the event).
Work with your event coordinator to organise a professional MC for the conference. An experienced MC will do more than tell jokes and introduce speakers. They can share valuable and relevant stories, keep delegates on track with time, share updates, encourage networking, influence the mood and the energy levels in the room.
Invest in the support structures like good food and freely available coffee and tea. The food and service you receive at a conference can colour the entire experience so reinforce the idea that mealtimes at your franchise conference are high-quality and an excellent chance to build networks.
Focused conference sessions
Keep your sessions focussed and powerful with a maximum length of around 45 minutes. Get your delegates moving and involved. Sitting and watching PowerPoint slides for hours on end isn’t inspiring and it can be a complete waste of time if it’s not used judiciously. Instead, encourage break out groups, panel discussions, interactive projects, team-building activities, new product samples/launches, or even outdoor sessions where appropriate.
Foreground your franchisees. External speakers and franchisors can bring critical information and training, but hearing case studies, examples and stories from franchisees operating in the same conditions can mean a lot more, be relatable and instantly applicable. In the same vein, invite sponsors to work the room but discourage formal presentations. Relationships will be made over dinner rather than over the sound system.
Add some fun to your conference
Consider adding a touch of fun such as a costume evening. It can bring a little levity and breaks the ice. Let delegates know ahead of time and keep the theme simple and accessible. Light, fun touches throughout the conference can help avoid a weighed down overly corporate feel.
Get feedback for your conference
Finally, seek out feedback from your franchisee conference attendees and work it into next year’s event. What expectations did the teams have and were they met? Was the content useful and actionable? If problems come up, determine if it was a problem with the content or the delivery. Take the information on board so you can deliver and even more successful conference next year.