Franchise Professionals Share Objectives for Attending IFA Convention

A few weeks ago, I posted a discussion on various LinkedIn Franchise Groups about the upcoming 50th IFA Convention. I asked who was attending the event and what they were hoping to bring back to their organization. The response was great as many people not only shared what they were hoping to achieve, but also shared their thoughts about the event, past and present.

Take note of the objectives and offers of assistance as we share some of the responses…

Deb Evans, President and CEO at Computer Explorers, ICED – ” I am looking forward to connecting with the best in the franchise industry! I always return with new contacts and fresh ideas to implement. I am anxious to spend time with franchise friends I haven’t seen since last year. For anyone that is attending for the first time, feel free to connect with me. I am happy to provide some helpful tips regarding the weekend and meet in person!”

Sheryl Cassity, CIA, CPA, CMA, Director, Internal Audit – “Our firm is looking to expand our connections with the franchise community. We take advantage of this opportunity to reach new franchise concepts and re-connect with existing clients. The educational opportunities are extremely valuable. This is a great opportunity to learn what is important to franchising so we can respond better to meet the needs of the franchise community.”

Tanya Mitchell, CFE, VP Research and Development at Learning Rx – “I always come away with great new ideas for both franchisees and franchise development. I would love to learn new ways to market to qualified candidates, and how zors are using social networking and PPC to draw in qualified candidates.”

Christian Faulconer, CEO at Franchise Foundry – “We go for the networking and the education and we haven’t been disappointed. This year we are hoping to meet startup and emerging franchisors that we can invest in and help grow in 2010. ” I’m also excited to get the word out regarding what Franchise Foundry can do to help emerging franchisors so if you happen to be an emerging franchisor that is attending the conference, let’s chat.”

Christian also gave some strong reasons for young franchisors who are considering attending the event, perhaps for the first time…

1. You probably don’t know what you don’t know. The IFA conference is a great place to learn that there are a lot of smart people out there who know stuff that you don’t. The good news is that they are willing to share what they know.

2. You have a chance to network with people who’ve “been there, done that” and people in your same situation. Through our participation in the IFA, we have made connections that we will benefit from for years.

3. You may find out that you do something better than anyone else. It’s a very rewarding feeling to find out that you’ve been doing something right and to be able to share what you know with others.

Mary Ann O’Connell, CFE, President, FranWise Franchise Consulting – “I love to get together with my franchise friends. The entrepreneurial spirit makes them some of the most interesting people I know. After that, I use the networking and volunteer opportunities to market myself and my company’s services. I love to learn from everyone – what an incredible “university” of ideas we have there. From the seasoned veterans to the people with the newest ideas: there is still so much to learn.”

Scott Hoots, Director of Franchise Attractions at Ripley Entertainment – “I just confirmed I’ll be attending my first IFA convention this year. Looking forward to the interaction and the opportunity to expand my network.”

Marie A, VanDrisse, Executive Account Manager at F.C. Dadson
– “I have two goals I’m trying to achieve. Since I’ve only been in the Franchise market for about a year, I want to use the educational seminars to gain knowledge on the in’s and out’s of the business. Secondly, what makes a trade show worth your while, for both myself and our company, is when your can gain either network or new business opportunities. The more networking functions the better.”

Across five different LinkedIn Franchise Groups there were over 40 responses and subsequent comments from executives representing franchisors and professionals representing service providers. All-in-all, there was a diverse representation that makes franchising what it is today. Many are looking to network. Others are hoping to learn. While others are seeking opportunities to generate business. All valid reasons for attending the 50th IFA Convention.

Ironically, the last comment posted was by none other than Dan Durney, Principal at Powerhouse Franchising who chimed in, “All I can say is… Long live the BRICK! See y’all in San Antone!

Yes, we’ll see y’all in San Antonio. Here’s best wishes for a successful event filled with lasting memories that will give new meaning to, “Remember the Alamo!”


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Discussion About IFA’s 50th Anniversary Exemplifies What Franchising is Really About!

Recently, on the International Franchise Association group on LinkedIn, I posted the following discussion, “The 50th Annual IFA Convention in San Antonio is less than three weeks away. Will you be attending? If so, what do you hope to bring back to your organization? If not, is there a specific reason?”

Many franchise professionals responded and explained why they would be attending the event. Most of the responses centered around sharing ideas and building relationships. Sure, some mentioned exploring new opportunities with potential and existing clients, but we are all in business to make money, right? But in addition to generating new business, almost all that responded were looking to interact with fellow franchise professionals. Hopefully, long-term relationships will be established over time and the franchise community will continue to evolve and strengthen.

One of the responses was from franchise veteran, Michael Seid. He stated that he had been going to IFA conventions for 25 years. I really admired the fact that he had attended these events for over a quarter of a century! Think about all that has changed in 25 years. Just think about the technological changes that have occurred during this period of time. I mean no one was walking around the IFA event in 1985 with a cell phone, right? How about a laptop? Could anyone have even imagined the internet and email? Heck, fax machines were barely around in 1985, albeit the ones that were used that ridiculous paper that always seemed to roll onto to the floor and under a desk… just out of reach.

Yes, times sure have changed, but the love and passion for franchising apparently has not. It’s just been passed onto people like Michael Seid. By virtue of his responses to my original discussion, and subsequent question, “I’m curious, what was the convention like back in, what, 1985?”, Michael takes us down memory lane and does so in such a dignified manner and with genuine sincerity, that he really seemed to pay it forward. For the benefit of all within the franchise community, I am honored to share his response below.

“1985 was in Miami if I recall and that was not my first so it may be longer than [25 years]. If I recall the attendance at my first convention was measured in the hundreds – not like we have now in the thousands. It was a much different association – we have come a long way with programming and content and member services. A lot of the founders were still around. I just got a great biography of Joe Francis from The Barbers who was very active years ago. If you did not know Joe you missed a great man – really a fine individual who went out of his way to give guidance to anyone who asked for his help. His son is still very active in the IFA. It’s a great quick read if you have not seen the book. Joe is gone 15 or more years.

The culture of the IFA has not changed. You can still corner an experienced member as a new comer and they seem always to be thrilled to mentor and give advice. I remember asking Fred DeLuca a question when I was new in the association and he spent two or more hours giving me his advice. That has not changed at all as most members today will do the same for a new comer.

Looking back at what has changed – No franchisees back then. That was a major difference Steve Lynn and Jim Bugg made that happen). No PAC to speak of (Sid Feltenstein changed that). No franchise appreciation day (Bernie Browning‘s idea). No Education Foundation only an education committee (I think Sid Feltenstein is also responsible for that). No thought of diversity or minorities in franchising (Ron Harrison). No VetFran (Don Dwyer‘s idea during the first gulf war). No Second Tuesdays (if it was not Lane Fisher and Scott Lehr then they were responsible for making it grow as it has). Who would have thought we would be looking at using franchising to provide products and services to the poor in the emerging markets and yet today we have the Social Sector Franchising task force. No CFE (John Reynolds). No one would have thought of a franchisee ever being chairman (Steve Siegel was the first and Doc Cohen the second). No franchisees or suppliers forum leadership on the board (Joyce Mazero if I recall was the first Counsel of Suppliers chair on the board and Jeff Kolton was the second – although we had no vote then. Supplier membership on the Executive Committee did not exist (I had that privilege when I was supplier chair to be the first because of Gary Charlwood).

I remember the IFA chair years ago saying that he would never let a mattress salesman (his word for suppliers) ever being on the board. Suppliers got a board vote when Gary Charlwood was chairman). No suppliers elected to the board in their own name for six years (I was privileged to be the first and Lane Fisher the second). No women as chairman (Joanne Shaw was the first and Dina Dwyer the second). No major investment in research (Mike Isakson). I think Jim Amos when he was chair actually creating the first IFA long range strategic plan. When Don DeBolt became president of the IFA we were near bankrupt and look at the great financial condition we are in now (Russ Frith as Treasurer did an amazing job). We did a lousy job in lobbying years ago and now we have a huge public affairs team. We dealt with Coble and LaFalce holding hearings on relationship laws in Congress and those days are gone.

Yes a lot has changed over the years. We owe a debt to a lot of some very smart folks who were in the leadership back then who kept adding great elements to make the association better. Along the way we had some who were less than stellar also but for the most part, we have been fortunate by those who chose to be in the leadership. Lets not forget the amazing job Debbie Moss has done in growing and professionalizing the convention supported by a really professional team of staff.

Still with all of the change, growth and the better financial condition of the association, the culture of the IFA has not really changed. I expect that many of the members/leaders from years ago who have not been active in the IFA will be at the 50th anniversary. Some of them will be surprised and pleased how far we have come.”


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50th Annual IFA Convention – Do You Plan on Attending?

The 50th Annual IFA Convention in San Antonio is less than three weeks away. Will you be attending? If so, what do you hope to bring back to your organization? If not, is there a specific reason?

This year’s historic convention promises to be the best ever. Join the largest gathering of franchise business professionals at the premier franchise industry conference dedicated to excellence, education and relationship building. For 50 years, the International Franchise Association has worked to protect, promote and enhance franchising by advocating on behalf of the industry and hosting exceptional educational programming and networking opportunities. This year’s event will be no exception.

The 50th Annual IFA Convention, this year in San Antonio, Texas (February 5-8), promises to honor those who have made the industry what it is today and showcase the growth of franchising over the past half century. You will leave inspired, optimistic and ready to face the challenges that lay ahead.

Click HERE for more information!


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