This years’ IFA Annual Convention was held in San Antonio, Texas and offered participants the opportunity to attend educational sessions, roundtables, summits and mini-super sessions covering multiple aspects of the franchise industry. Designed specifically for franchisees, franchisors and supplier partners that support the franchise industry, the convention was the perfect place to upskill and make a head start on goals for 2016. The convention offered information on the latest trends and information in the areas of franchise relations, management and leadership, financing, multi-unit growth, franchise development, social media and much more.
This year I was joined by a 30-strong Australian group from various franchise systems, all there for the same reason; to learn how we can improve our systems back home. IFA 2016 wasn’t all work and no play, with some of the Aussies heading out to a rodeo in San Antonio, for a Saturday night of cowboys, music and deep fried food.
2016 was my second IFA Convention, and was once again a great investment of time – the 2017 IFA Convention is in Las Vegas and I would urge you all to join the Australian contingent next year.
The key messages I took from this year were centred around leadership, specifically that it is not something that you can turn on and off when it suits, rather a trait that needs to be on show each and every day. Michael Isakson, the retired President and COO of an international franchise services company, summed it up best at the convention by saying “people go to places of the greatest positive association”. I took this as relevant to not only the people you are employing, but also your customers.
The average workforce has a broad spectrum of generations, from the baby boomers at one end, who will follow your lead, to the millennials, who will inspire you with innovation and a new way of thinking and doing and let’s not forget the X’s and all they have to offer either! Franchisors need to consider this new generation; they way they work, operate and see life are quite different; and adjust how and what you offer this new breed of potential franchisee and employee.
Through looking at how you interact with potential franchisees and adjusting your communication style to reach different targets you are casting your net further and are bound to engage a wider audience. By giving millennials a framework that allows them to fill in the dots and be driven by their own self select and outputs you will see greater engagement and results. Results will be further improved if you respect the work/life differences of this generation and and structure the business outputs to suit the owner and their wants out of life. This includes a good work/life balance; family; travel and to operate a business that has a positive impact in their community.
As leaders we need to have the ability to change a person’s energy or attitude, inspire or drive them to be solution centric, to believe in and support your organisation’s goals. In doing this, you will create a culture within your business that fosters growth and connection. Whilst there is place for all in the workforce, your leadership role requires you to effectively manage distractions and alerts while guiding and leading those around you.
Remembering what Peter Drucker once said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” serves to highlight the importance of creating a thriving and productive culture within your brand. Having a focus on developing leaders instead of just the business will be more beneficial to the brand in the long-term.
“The crowd will follow a leader who marches twenty paces ahead of them, but if he is a thousand paces ahead of them, they will neither see nor follow him.” George Brandis
Another theme evident to me throughout the program was that the bold, successful brands are about the experience and the connection, more so than the product or service. It’s how the customer feels when you are connected with the brand. It is within your local community that you will have the greatest impact and influence. You need to be able to connect at grass roots, customers will return for the feeling they get from your business, not necessarily your product or service. You need to harness the heartbeat of the community and provide the experience to everyone. It is all about bringing back personal service and connection at the local level that will make your business stand out and be remembered against those who don’t.
Franchising is the system of the future. We need to look at how we can bring personality back at the local level and implement changes to achieve this. It’s not the brand power of the franchise alone that will determine the success or failure of a business, it is whether or not the brand can be ‘lived’ at the local level with the local community, in tune with their worlds and challenges.
“Business success is all about ‘winning on the street’, you need to be connected at grass roots level and making a difference.”
Regardless of how many conventions, conferences or meetings one attends, there is always something new to take away and apply to one, or multiple, aspects of your business. Next year, the IFA 2017 convention will be held at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las from the January 27- February 1, 2017 and will be well worth attending. I will certainly be there.