In the franchise system, it is common practice for franchisors and franchisees to come together, celebrate the year, and strategize for the road ahead in a national conference setting. But franchise networks can enhance their communities by creating periodic meetings at the franchisee regional level. Oftentimes formal meetings are only led and directed by the franchisor, but the power of franchisee organized and managed meetings can have a tremendous impact on your brand. Smaller meetings not only allow people within your franchise network to get better acquainted, but promote the sharing of ideas between one another to align on best practices, grow bottom lines, and enhance the system as a whole.
Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More® has always been a franchise concept focused on supporting its network. To move this mission forward, we began hosting regional meetings to benefit all of our 90 plus locations nationwide. As a supplement to our national conference, franchisees are able to give and take best practices from their counterparts and apply them to their own territory. The result was fantastic – we saw an 18 percent increase in system-wide gross revenue in the first half of 2019. We’re continuing to host these meetings, and look forward to the ongoing positive impact it will have on our brand.
Franchisors should consider programming regional meetings throughout the year to build comradery and further contribute to the success of the franchise network. Here a few things to keep in mind when doing so.
A small crowd creates an engaging setting
While national conferences usually involve the entire franchise network in a large space, each regional meeting is a small gathering of franchisees within a territory along with two to three members of the corporate team. Hosting these smaller gatherings is not only more cost effective but also allows for everyone in the room the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussion.
In an environment that is more intimate, entrepreneurs can begin forming critical relationships with experienced franchisees and listen to candid feedback on their experiences.
Additionally, setting up a meeting with a select handful of the franchises allows franchisors to check in with each franchise owner. Operating in 26 states and nearing 100 locations, regional meetings allow us as franchisors to have discussions with each franchisee, learning more about each one’s accomplishments, challenges, and areas of opportunity. At Big Frog, we view every franchise agreement we make as a promise that the franchise owner has made a sound investment. Smaller meetings are a great way to continue our discussions and make good on that initial promise.
Create a platform for voices to be heard
National conferences provide a great platform for your leadership to give an annual announcement, share awards, and inform the whole franchise network on national news and observations. Regional meetings however are a time for groups to dive deep into a variety of business topics, letting franchisees and store managers lead the discussion.
To enhance the value of our meetings, Big Frog opened up regional meetings to store managers. As the boots on the ground of each Big Frog location, we felt it was important to have our managers come share their experience and to obtain more knowledge on a wide range of topics. Through this, we have not only seen franchise owners increase their abilities in local marketing and maintaining a supply chain, but have also seen store managers boost their skills in merchandising, team building, and business planning.
When planning a regional meeting, reach out to a couple of successful franchisees and managers in your network beforehand and ask them if they would feel comfortable speaking on a variety of subjects. Feel free to help these individuals in creating and leading the conversation, but let their expertise shine through. A franchisee or store manager holding the attention of their group can give invaluable advice to anyone looking to learn something new and improve their own business.
Value people’s time
Regional meetings are a great time to learn and connect quickly. They can be filled with both social and educational activities, but only needs to be a day long. Pack your meeting with activities you and your team will love, but understand that this is a small part of growing your franchise network.
To put this principle into practice, our team creates a distinct itinerary of our regional meetings before they start. A day-long regional meeting can cover 6 to 8 topics at once, with each subject receiving 30 minutes to an hour of discussion time. With distinct topics and timelines for each discussion, we are able to ensure every topic is covered in a thorough and productive manner.
Regional meetings are truly an exciting way to get people together and talk about the pressing issues that will help build their business. Part social, part educational, these events are a great way to build your franchise community and let the leaders of your business share best practices to help everyone succeed. By making your meeting a grassroots system with intimate and engaging discussions, you can build a valuable experience that helps everyone – from franchisors to franchisees – reach a new level of success.
Tina Bacon-DeFrece, Ph.D. is the President, CEO and Co-Founder of Big Frog Franchise Group, and is responsible for strategic planning and tactical development for all aspects of the Big Frog Brand. Prior to her foray into franchising, Tina, as a Ph.D. Chemical Engineer, was a research director for a multimillion dollar scientific instrument company. Her responsibilities were to not only develop a full line of optical sensors, but to determine the profitability and marketability of the technologies.