The power of community – how an annual conference can strengthen your franchise brand

As both a franchisor and a leader, one of the key attributes that you must have is the ability to listen.

The power of community - how an annual conference can strengthen your franchise brand

The disruptive nature of the Omicron variant is continuing to impact many franchises as they seek to return to normality. Over the past few years, the pandemic has put increased pressure on franchise models in many unforeseen and challenging ways. One important takeaway from the period has been how important franchise communities have been in overcoming the difficulties of the pandemic. From collaboration to ongoing support, having a network of franchisees to back you can make all the difference to your business at times of unprecedented stress. Kevin Thackrah, Director of Petpals, maintains that strengthening the bonds in your franchise network is more pivotal than ever. Here, he shares how Petpals saw last month’s annual conference as a fantastic opportunity to build on the culture of its award-winning network. 

As both a franchisor and a leader, one of the key attributes that you must have is the ability to listen. When arranging a conference, a priority is to ascertain what your network wants. A conference is not just about your ideas, but in fact, it should be about what areas franchisees need support in. Before organising the conference, we considered the common issues that have been mentioned within the network, and organised key speakers and presentations that would help offer solutions. Due to the pandemic, we had many franchisees still reluctant to mix in a large event, therefore after much consideration we moved the event online. We would not be an ethical franchise brand if people were excluded due to events that are outside of their control. 

Even though we made the decision to host the event virtually, we still wanted to offer our franchisees time to socialise.  This is easier in a face-to-face environment, however, we had regular breaks throughout the conference so the network could catch up on a human level. Having these moments of socialisation goes a long way in establishing a healthy network. Through my time with Petpals, many franchisees have told me how valuable these moments of social interaction can be, and we are therefore always keen to create these moments whenever we can. 

We started the conference with our ongoing vision for the brand. How can we expect franchisees to be part of a cohesive network if they are not aware of where we are going? We reiterated our key values and shared how as a franchise we are going to make the most of 2022. At Petpals, we want the highest possible standards of excellence when it comes to the care of our clients’ pets. The only way to achieve this is by us all working together as a unified franchise community.  

During the conference, we were keen to showcase the wealth of knowledge that our franchisees possess. To do this, we had presentations from not only our head office specialists but also franchisees – as no one knows how to make the model work better than the stars of our current network. This not only highlights the brilliant resources available at Petpals, but also how we value excellence within our business. We also had presentations from industry experts including the CEO of the British Franchise Association.  

We also had our annual awards – where we recognised some outstanding franchisee achievements. It is my belief that recognition goes a long way in making franchisees feel valued. At the end of the day, we’re nothing without the amazing franchisees in our network, and this should always be celebrated. Sometimes as a franchisor it is easy to get lost on your overall mission, and to lose sight of the brilliant people that make your network stand out. Therefore, an awards ceremony is a fantastic way to build community in your franchise and an excellent way of highlighting some of the people who make the brand special. The community you build within your network is pivotal in everything you do, and it should be a key focus of development for you and your franchise in 2022.

Kevin Thackrah
Kevin Thackrah