Franchise conferences and conventions can be a great resource for franchisees or anyone exploring franchise opportunities. In addition to being an excellent learning experience, franchising conferences are a chance to meet other franchisees or franchise representatives. But a lot happens at conferences. And it can be overwhelming. We have your peek behind the curtain so you know what you’re in for, in advance.
Sessions are a hallmark of any conference. In addition to being a great excuse to escape the hubbub of the convention floor, you can learn a lot. The best way to get the most out of each session is to come prepared. The International Franchise Association’s Annual Convention has 50 sessions. It is impossible to make it to all of them. The same is true for most franchise conferences. But you don’t need to. Before you head to the conference, spend some time on the hosting organization’s website. It should include a schedule of the educational sessions offered. Some just won’t apply to you, like sessions specifically for franchisors. Some sessions will be targeted for those still considering franchise opportunities and others will be for franchise owners.
From the sessions that apply to you, choose a few that apply to your business goals. It can be tempting to squeeze in as many sessions as possible, but you don’t want to miss out on other valuable networking opportunities. Once you know what sessions you’re attending, jot down a few notes on the information you want to gain from each one. This will help you when the session facilitator asks “does anyone have any questions?” Plus, this makes sure you are getting what you want from the conference as a whole.
The Convention Floor
The main convention hall will be full of vendors, franchise representatives and business opportunities. It can be overwhelming to navigate. Our advice: don’t try to do it all in one day. Visit the booths that interest you. If you are exploring franchise opportunities, be sure to have a list of questions to ask each franchise representative. Try to take notes, gather information and exchange contact information. After the conference you will be able to take these materials home and make a more educated decision about the next steps in your franchise journey. Franchise representatives might not have a lot of time to talk, so it’s important to ask your questions up front. Plus, you’ll know as soon as possible whether or not it’s the right opportunity for you.
Networking is the Name of the Game
You’ll have the opportunity to chat with franchise representatives, franchisees, and other experts in the franchise industry. It’s no surprise that a lot of networking happens at franchising conferences. Take advantage! It’s likely you will meet the same people in more than one session; get to know them. You can likely relate to them and where they are in the franchise journey.
Beyond the sessions, get out on the floor. The convention hall will be full of franchise reps and development teams who have a lot of franchising knowledge to pass on (as well as franchise opportunities to pitch).
Outside of official conference events, industry social events are likely to pop around town. Go to them! It’s a great opportunity to chat with other attendees in a more casual environment. Don’t forget to swap contact information with the people you meet. Sustainable business relationships require follow-up.
A lot happens at franchise conferences, but you’ll be ready to take advantage of all they have to offer. Just come prepared, ready to learn, and excited to meet new people in the franchise industry.