I must admit, usually, a franchisor’s conference would see me putting on my running shoes and legging it as fast as I possibly can.
And so, it was with some trepidation that I fetched up and a large hotel in the Midlands on Friday evening ahead of an exhibition, conference and black tie do the next day. Although, I have to say, it was with slightly less trepidation than usual, having attended a conference of this particular franchisor before.
But why so much trepidation?
Well, I might have been slightly tainted against franchise conferences in the past for a couple of reasons.
The first reason was the attitude of a particular franchisor whose attitude to conferences can be summed up like this: ‘Why should I get all my franchisees together? Their relationship is with me, not each other!’
The second reason is that I’ve spoken at a few of these things and I’ve seen it when things go wrong. For example, one guy didn’t do his research, tried to do an online demonstration, which didn’t work and then told franchisees that they had to pay for his product by order of the franchisor (which wasn’t actually true). There was pandemonium and the guy literally ran for it after getting a real hammering from the already militant bunch of franchisees.
What made it worse was that he left his watch on the lectern and had to come back for it!
Talk about Linford Christie.
Anyway, to this weekend…
The conference I attended was just about the very best I’ve been to. The franchisor organised an exhibition of all their suppliers so franchisees could get up close and personal with the businesses who could support them in their work. In the afternoon, the conference itself was attended by more than 250 people who all heard a consistent and very sensible message.
The evening event was brilliantly organised, quirky, fun and the awards were very well received.
But what stood out for me, was that franchisees, after the awards, didn’t disappear; they stayed and socialised – with each other and the franchisor’s team and, believe me, that doesn’t always happen.
It’s the sign of a franchise network that is happy and, more importantly, understands what the franchisor is doing for them.
All in all, I have to say my attitude to franchise conferences has swung 180 degrees… I can’t wait for the next one.