02
Mar
11

Top 10 Things Learned At IFA Conference 2011

Weise Communications is back from the International Franchise Association (IFA) conference in Las Vegas (Feb. 13-16). The conference was full of highlights, from newest Hall of Fame inductee (Doc Cohen) and his moving acceptance speech, to 7-Eleven CEO Joe DePinto’s presentation on customer service and the two keynote speeches from former Massachusetts Govenor Mitt Romney and editor in chief of Forbes Magazine, Steve Forbes. The four-day conference didn’t disappoint. After five sessions, four roundtables and an executive forum, here are the top 10 things learned at the conference.

  1. Benchmarking KPI (Key Performance Indicators) through IFA ‘on track’ system is long over due.  Props to IFA for making this happen and highlighting it at the conference.
  2. Financing is still the biggest hurdle to overcome for franchise systems to grow. The IFA continues to push for political and financial movement in this area, while many franchisors look for innovative financing options of their own.
  3. Integration of marketing tools is essential.  Communication is no longer filtered through the media and our messages can go direct to the consumer. Thus, we need tighter control over what we say about our companies.
  4. A great way to get into the social media game is to use store locator maps on websites to help drive foot traffic. But, if you are using this tool, it is essential that locators are accurate and complete. The franchisor should own this operation, not the individual franchise owners.
  5. In 2010, there was a lot of discussion about using social media effectively in the world of franchising. In 2011, the entire conference could have been dedicated to this topic (@davemurr of Re Group). Franchise systems are increasingly savvy about driving consumers to their locations through mobile and location-based marketing, but still unsure how to use the same tools to sell franchises. Luckily we heard from some great systems that they are developing leads and closing sales based on their social media efforts. Social media is here to stay and it sounds like that message has been heard loud and clear by most franchise systems.
  6. A lead is a lead. A conversion is a sale. Franchisors are now more interested in the quality leads they can generate that actually close a deal, rather than simply how many leads they can get from any one source. The prevailing question now is, “How do I close the sale?” as opposed to “How do I get a lead?”
  7. Franchisors that still don’t believe in the value of social media probably have the wrong mindset. Social media is not pitching products and services; it is a relationship-building tool.
  8. When it comes to social media, like any other marketing outreach initiative, you need a plan that is realistic to execute and based on a legitimate goal. It also needs to be a sustainable plan because social media is not considered authentic unless it is ongoing.
  9. Separate training and support operational functions. Good professional trainers can get a franchisee started with excellent training. However, those skills are not necessarily successful for a franchisee operating for a while. They need a different level of support. Both of these functions need distinctive skill sets and most likely different people working on them. But the increased focus on the right area will increase franchisor profitability (@Mike_Walls of Caring Senior Service).
  10. Franchising industry must integrate social media with traditional methods and processes (@PaulSegreto of franchisEssentials). Social Media is a vital channel for growth both at the franchisee and the franchisor level (@JackMonson of Engage121).

Let us know if you think we missed something. Share your thoughts about IFA with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.

See you in Orlando in 2012.


13 Responses to “Top 10 Things Learned At IFA Conference 2011”


  1. 1 Lee vala
    March 2, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Good day Mark,
    Point number 7 says it all, I agree with you, all Franchisors who do not embrace social media are going to behind the curve, they will learn to catch up eventually but it will cost them more and a higher learning curve to go through
    I really enjoyed this article and I look for more informative point of views from you,
    Be well

  2. March 2, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Hey Mark,

    Good recap, and thank you for including my quip in your post. Like we talked about at IFA, I heard a lot about tactics and lead generation when it came to social media. Maybe I’m wrong, but I always understood the foundation of business was relationships. If that still holds true, then Franchisors have a great opportunity in front of them.

    Show me what you do. Show me your product, culture, service, and why you better from the rest. Do this and connect with me on a personal level. Then you have a valuable lead, and someone who would be a heck a lot more interested in investing in your Franchise.

    And here is a reality check for all of us. The generations coming up, don’t need to “invest” in anything. They are already masters of trimming the fat when it comes to their digital decision making. What is stopping any one of them from building their own Franchise? They don’t need much to invest these days do they? Just an internet connection, a computer/mobile device, and a unique idea that is built on the value of products and service. Make one thing, huh?

  3. March 2, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Or better yet, makes one “think”. That’s what I get for commenting on an empty stomach!

  4. 4 Mark Plumb
    March 2, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Thanks Lee, hope to see you again soon. As far as Franchisors embracing social media, I agree they must move toward social media sooner. There are great aggregation tools like Hootsuite that makes managing social media so much easier. The tools are there – It is simply about changing mindset.

  5. 5 Mark Plumb
    March 2, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Dave, I agree that relationships are critical for any business to be successful. However, I also think it is crucial for businesses to adapt and adopt.
    For example, our hunger for news has not diminished. However, the newspaper industry has not figured out a profitable business model, there is simply too many similar stories available on free websites. This industry is well behind adapting their offering and adopting a social media perspective. For the newspapers attempting to adjust, they tend to focus on the technology rather than building relationships with the community. They need to bring in people with experience building online communities, and completely reinvent. I found an article from the Economist (free content) that even identifies a press conference where President Obama did not take a single question from a major daily newspaper.

    Hope you and the Hungry Dudes got a great lunch!

  6. March 2, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Great list….although if you ranked these in order of importance, I’d make your #2 (quoted below) into #1. Nothing is more critial to growth than addressing the ongoing Credit Crunch.

    — “Financing is still the biggest hurdle to overcome for franchise systems to grow. The IFA continues to push for political and financial movement in this area, while many franchisors look for innovative financing options of their own.”

    There was a great workshop and companion roundtable discussions on this topic: “When the Franchisor Becomes the Banker: Best Practices for Franchisors Providing Financing to their Franchisees.” This is precisely the kind of alternative franchisee finacing option that franchisors are now considering, in light of the ongoing Credit Crunch.

    Our new company, Franchise Note Buyers, was an exhibitor at the Convention’s Trade Show and we’re helping franchisors to: (1) get rid of the risk involved in holding franchise-backed notes, (2) use their cash-out of those notes to recycle back into new loans to their franchisees or as they otherwise see fit.

    Many nimble and agile franchisors are adapting to the tight credit markets by opening their minds to innovative solutions that add to their traditional franchisee bank loan programs. We should see this disruptive innovation as the #1 continuing trend on the #1 challenge to getting deals (new sales and transfers) done in 2011.

    Cheers,

    Rich Kolman
    President & Principal Owner
    Franchise Note Buyers, LLC

  7. March 3, 2011 at 6:17 am

    Thanks for including me in your list. As I opened up my roundtable discussions, I quoted Social nomics author, Erik Qualman, who also happens to be the person behind the famous Social Media Revolution videos, “Social Media ROI is being in business 5 years from now!” A very powerful statement indeed and one that franchisors must keep in the forefront of their minds as they take their next steps in social media. Social media is not a fad, as many still follishly believe. Social media will continue to grow and expand beyond our wildest dreams as has all forms of communications mentioned in the Social Media Revolution 2 video. Great seeing you and everyone at IFA. Already looking forward to 2012 as a new member of the IFA Convention Committee!

  8. 8 Mark Plumb
    March 3, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks Rich! I appreciate you reading and passing along thesidenoteblog.com for others to read as well.

  9. 9 Mark Plumb
    March 3, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Paul, It was great to meet you at IFA. I attended one of your roundtables and agree that social media has changed the rules of the game, primarily because of online scalability.
    In a world where 90 percent of people trust consumer recommendations from known people, (Source: Neilson Global Trust in Advertising Survey, 2009) social media is taking on greater importance. It is the easiest method for recommendations to spread and an essential part of an integrated marketing program.
    Let’s stay in touch.

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