How to create a conference that gets franchisees talking

Inside Franchise Business: create a conference that engages franchiseesFirst you have to get your franchisees to the conference, then you have to deliver a first class experience that stops the snoozing in the back row. Get it wrong, and next year’s task becomes an uphill struggle.

Silvana Murray, category manager at Hairhouse Warehouse, lets us in to her world of planning and implementation…

“We look at what is happening in the retail sector that we are in, we seek feedback from franchisees as to the topics they would find interesting and the pressing issues they want to learn more about. All these elements start to create our agenda.

“Theme dinners are always received well, these are also a great way to get all delegates to engage and create conversation between themselves. While your day sessions need to be on point, you need to create fun in the evenings so that they can relax and enjoy.

Who should be involved in the planning and organisation?

“Your management team to assist with the direction of the agenda, franchisees to assist with the key topics of learning, an event company that can manage all the delegates registration and planning with the venue. And someone in the organisation who can relay the internal message to the event company to ensure that the tone of the conference meets expectations.

What tips do you have for structuring a conference day?

“Our conferences are generally planned a year in advance. We split up the sessions throughout the day so there aren’t too many intense presentations one after another. We make sure that we finish at 5pm each day so franchisees have some personal time between day sessions and dinners.

What are some typical outcomes that can be achieved with a franchise network conference?

“We always want franchisees to take away an action plan that they will implement in store or with their team once they leave. Conferences need to allow a business owner to walk away with at least three key action points that they can implement in their franchise to see results. We also involve our business managers in this process; after conference they follow up each store and go through their action plan and how it will be implemented.

What are the pros and cons of charging fees and mandatory attendance?

“As part of our franchise agreement franchisee attendance at conference is mandatory. But while this is the case we ensure costs are kept down to make it easy for them to attend – that is the key.

“If it becomes too expensive to attend franchisees will always find a reason why they can’t come.

“On the other hand, the franchisor is left holding the bill. To limit the cost to the franchisor we work with our supplier base who exhibit at the conference and can offer their package deals to the franchise network.”