What I learned at the IFA

What did franchisors gain from attending the International Franchise Convention in Las Vegas in February?

A 47-strong delegation attended the major US event under the umbrella of the Franchise Council of Australia.

So what did they bring back with them to put into practice in their businesses?

Jacob Foster, founder managing director, FCF – Fire and Electrical

“The biggest take away for myself and our organisation is, undertime. Undertime is the time that employees are disengaged and not focusing on benefiting the company or our clients. “How do we as a smaller franchise team ensure that our franchisees’ staff and store-operated employees focus on limiting undertime? We believe that engaging staff at all levels in participating in group events will help put a culture in place that limits undertime.”

Audrey Lucas, national marketing manager, Salts of the Earth

"The round tables were a great way to share ideas and learn from a wide range of people from different sectors in franchising. It also allowed for a really interactive way to bounce ideas and learn about new digital marketing trends and strategies I could apply to SOTE's marketing strategy.

“I felt very fortunate to be able to go to the IFA and the round tables helped pull me out of my comfort zone and meet and connect with people that have been in the franchising industry for year."

David Lindsay, founder, Salts of the Earth

“Conventions held in Australia are great to attend and rub shoulders with your peers and discuss industry trends, however; we are now in the age of innovation, disruption, and thinking outside the box and what better way to do it than by attending the IFA Convention.

“One presentation that was a highlight for me was Chuck Runyon and David Mortensen, the founders of Anytime Fitness. They spoke about their “Secret Sauce” – People, Purpose, Profits, Play.

“They attribute their success to creating an amazing working culture and employing experienced people who fit that culture to grow and support their dedicated and engaged franchisees.

“At a Certified Franchise Executive program I got a great bit of advice for ensuring new franchisees are across how the system flows and how the system is structured and that is have them fill out a questionnaire based on the content of your disclosure document and franchise agreement. This also helps future disputes that may arise due to non compliance.”

Tracey Leak, Gutter-Vac

“Getting the latest knowledge, especially around social media and online strategies was really valuable. They had an awesome session on video marketing.

“The one big take away was how Facebook is now putting a higher weighting on videos and that longer videos are becoming more popular than the short 30 second ad type of videos we have been encouraged to use for the last couple of years.  

“In the session they also did a great exercise with us on building the creative for an effective video marketing campaign that was really insightful and helpful.”

“In my role helping franchisees, it was fantastic to learn how other groups best support their franchisees.  That thought that as a franchise you want to be big, but at the same time think small by helping one franchisee at a time.”

Warren Ballantyne, CEO, Gutter-Vac

“My big takeaway was ‘You can’t operate without profit, you can do without process, people and play but not profit’.

“The NextGen program excites me and gives me confidence the sector is in good hands, it is also an eye opener the see the invaluable mentoring that takes place.”

Brendan Green, Hire A Hubby CEO

“As a mature system, the primary purposes of Hire A Hubby attending IFA was to see what if any new trends were emerging that may have any effect on our business. My particular slant in this regard was to see what sort of technological advancements may have been made in relation to all things digital; management systems, marketing automation, video content etc.

“While there were some impressive solutions on show, there was nothing that was a show stopper.

“What this means for me, is that the Australian franchising industry is very well positioned in terms of our overall methodologies.

“Interestingly, I sat in a series of related round tables, and aside from the distinct American accents, it could have been a round table here in Australia given the similarity of challenges being discussed.”

Nik Leigh, CEO, Real Property Photography

“Some of the most valuable information and insights I took away was from talking to fellow franchisors from around the world in all sorts of different fields industries through the round table sessions.

“The use of new and innovative technologies that assist both franchisees and franchisors to create more efficient and streamlined operations and to improve profitability was certainly the biggest take away.

“The use of augmented reality and virtual reality within advertising and marketing was particularly interesting as it adds a completely new element of engagement for consumers. Such technologies are of particular interest to Real Property Photography as we not only look to implement within our marketing, but for franchisee training and as a service offering..

“Constantly innovating is particularly important in any business, however it was fantastic to hear and see initiatives that have been implemented by various franchise systems across the globe with respect to franchise training, franchise document management, reporting and so much more.

“It is always so encouraging to hear from fellow franchise systems through events such as the IFA, whom have generally overcome similar challenges and problems that you may be experiencing at that time.”

Ben Fletcher, CEO, Listen to Your Body  

“What did I get out of the International Franchising Association Convention? American franchise systems think big and seem to put in place incredible sales, marketing, training support systems to help their brands grow fast and big!

“American systems seem to have incredible confidence, they back their plans and people to get there while remaining highly focused on the customer.

“I found the biggest trends revolved around marketing and discovery days. In Australia we seem to have seven to 10 marketing and advertising platforms that are commonly utilised to grow franchised units. But even the largest of American franchised systems only use two to three platforms but make sure they execute their plans incredibly well.

“Multiple franchisors and franchise development executives placed emphasis on a discovery day during the franchise application process.  

“This is a thorough one day in-store exploration day where both parties gauge whether there is a potential franchise partnership. Some systems host up to 20 prospective franchisees on a discovery day and 50 percent may purchase a franchise.

“The huge positive for a prospective franchisee is they get to live in the shoes of a franchisee for a day before committing, which will level out expectations before potentially signing a franchise agreement.”