Franchises are scattered by nature, and when things are going well, you’ll have units all over the place. This means you’re running a booming business, but the same thing that makes your franchise successful can also start to splinter your team if you’re not careful. Franchises run best when everyone feels connected and up to date, and while weekly webinars, regular personal phone calls, and social media groups bridge many gaps, there’s nothing like getting people together face to face.
Franchise conventions are the best way to share big announcements, show the human side of leadership, and celebrate wins from the past year. They’re the ideal time to refresh everyone’s knowledge of the resources, support, and tools they have at their disposal, plus introduce offerings that will strengthen units. Most of all, conventions create better ties between franchisees and enhance relationships through shared experiences. The healthier franchisee friendships are, the more they can help one another, and the more they feel like part of the franchise family.
Many franchises have found that franchisors who attend conferences subsequently have higher sales growth and profitability, so attendance incentives should be huge. These tips will help you launch your most successful gathering yet.
Make it clear that the convention is a benefit of being a franchisee.
Any gathering is only as strong as the people who attend, so it’s vital that everyone shows up. Sometimes people see conventions as optional events, but you want every franchisee to think of the franchise convention as an essential, must-attend gathering that is actually a benefit of being a franchisee. Laying the foundation for this kind of thinking starts in the recruitment stage. When you meet with potential franchisees, describe the convention alongside the other perks of being a franchisee, and continue to positively market the convention throughout the entire franchise relationship. Your staff should also emphasize the benefits of attendance so that every time the convention comes up in conversation, the value is reinforced.
Plan ahead, and plan wisely.
Many franchisors schedule annual conventions during the cheapest month of the year, not the month that makes the most sense in their company’s business cycle. Instead of focusing only on the budget, think about what will fit well in the franchise calendar. You should also plan the convention well in advance—at least 12 months—to ensure everything is in place. This allows extra time for franchisees to plan their calendars and more time to promote the event.
Select a defining theme.
Every event needs a theme, and franchise conventions are no different. The theme can be uplifting, educational, grounding, or celebratory. The theme represents the core goal of the annual convention, but don’t let the idea of choosing one be intimidating. Just ask a simple question: What’s the one big feeling or idea every attendee should leave with? That’s your theme. From there, you can draft materials and messaging to match and use them to publicize the convention to franchisees.
If you only put your money into one thing, it should be food.
Food doesn’t have to be fancy, but it needs to be delicious. When the meals are good, people enjoy their time at an event much more, making them equally more likely to linger and keep talking. If you can earn a reputation for having outstanding food at your conventions, people are also more excited to attend next year. Since great connections happen over great tables, think of an investment in food as an investment in company culture.
Get help planning and running the event.
If you’re new to major event planning, I have some bad news: Event planning can be hard, and even if you put it all together perfectly, running the actual event in real time can be a full-time job. However, I also have fantastic news: You don’t have to do everything yourself. As a leader of your franchise, you want to use every minute of the convention to speak, listen, and focus completely on the franchisees. You don’t want to deal with last-minute questions from the caterer about where to set up tables. Before you start planning the convention, enlist the help of a trusted assistant who will serve as your event planner and manager. This person can research the details that comply with your vision and make sure everything is executed well.
Make space for some fun.
A franchise convention is all about business, but a big part of business is relationships. As you plan, make room for some recreational time, and add in fun activities to help people get to know each other in a more relaxed setting. Fun, like food, is a major contributor to culture. People may not remember every slide from every PowerPoint, but they’ll definitely remember games and offline rec time, and that’s part of what will bring them back next year.
Kyle Zagrodzky is president of OsteoStrong, the health and wellness system with a focus on stronger bones, improved strength, and better balance in less than 10 minutes a week using scientifically proven and patented osteogenic loading technology. OsteoStrong introduced a new era in modern wellness and anti-aging in 2011 and has since helped thousands of clients between ages 8 and 98 improve strength, balance, endurance, and bone density. In 2014, the brand signed commitments with nine regional developers to launch 500 new locations across America. Today, the OsteoStrong brand is staying true to its growth towards a brand with global reach with the addition of more franchise sales and new regional developers.