A network that networks

A franchise conference is the most visible demonstration of the franchisor's commitment to its network of franchisees.

A network that networks

A franchise conference is the most visible demonstration of the franchisor’s commitment to its network of franchisees. They show franchisees that they value their opinions, that their relationship is a partnership, and that they are a serious and dedicated franchisor to prospects. A franchisor instantly breaks down the barriers between itself and its network, which can result in enhanced franchisee engagement and better buy-in to both the business model and the franchisor’s brand vision. Off the back of its annual conference, Kevin Thackrah, Director of Petpals, discusses the importance of bringing your network together and how the brand uses the event to encourage personal and business development and motivate franchisees for the year ahead.

For a franchisor and franchisee to grow hand in hand, sharing information and building a relationship is paramount. While annual conferences are nothing new, what your network gets out of them certainly can be – whether it be learning something new or a renewed sense of drive and determination for the coming year.

Last month, our franchisees travelled from across the country to join us for our annual conference. It was an opportunity to realign our core values and ethos with our franchisees to ensure our whole network has a collective vision for the next 12 months. This year, we focused on home boarding, marketing and new initiatives we are introducing, such as Novabright and Tractive. 

Keeping your franchisees in the dark is never a good idea. Since we started 22 years ago, we have understood the value these presentations can provide by offering insight into how the company is doing as a whole, and any news or future plans which franchisees need to be aware of. Goals are usually clarified to ensure everyone understands where their efforts should be placed to ensure continued growth for both franchisor and franchisee. Because of the interactive nature of conferences, there is always the chance to ask questions if franchisees have any concerns or ideas.

Open discussions hold particular importance at a conference, breaking up what sometimes can feel like long days of speakers and addressing pertinent topics with peers one-on-one or in small group settings to talk through challenges and share best practices. By learning from each other and asking each other for advice, franchisees gain valuable insight into new ways to do business. From guidance in business challenges to general tips, as well as fostering peer support, open discussions with franchisees and those at head office provide practical help with the trickier elements of the job. At the very least, casual conversation can lead to friendships and camaraderie that reassure you that a fellow franchisee is only a call away if support is needed.

As well as cementing relationships with franchisees, it is also an opportunity to make valuable contact with head office staff that you may only occasionally get to speak to face to face. It is always comforting to know who the ones are working behind the scenes to help the network as a whole. During the second day of our conference, franchisees were given the opportunity to have one-to-one training sessions with members of head office, and a group discussion with all attendees closed out the conference.

Conferences also provide the perfect forum for recognition of hard work. To close this year’s conference, we held an awards ceremony so those franchisees who have been a trailblazer or have been relentlessly building their business can receive the praise they deserve. It shows appreciation and gratitude for a franchisee’s good job, and it makes people aware that good work will be rewarded and that, as a franchisor, you care about the work they do. Applauding their efforts boosts morale and can also inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

At its core, a conference is the chance to connect with your franchisees, build relationships and share best practices that aid your brand and your network’s growth. Ultimately, they are what you make them. An annual get-together can be as simple as setting up a dinner where everyone can gather and share ideas, but the franchisors that accept these gatherings as a necessary connection point with franchisees will be in a better position to prosper in the future.

Kevin Thackrah
Kevin Thackrah