Takeaways from the International Franchise Association 2013 Convention

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International Franchise Association 2013 Takeaways

Attending the IFA (International Franchise Association) convention was, for me, a whirlwind of new people, new ideas and new perspectives. If you weren’t able to attend this year, plan to next year. From the speakers to the breakout sessions to the wealth of informal sharing among the attendees themselves, you’ll find your thinking challenged and your energy re-charged. This is truly a worthwhile event for any franchisee and franchisor.

Here are some of the things that struck me most. Keep in mind these are just a handful of my top-line impressions. For more details, visit the IFA 2013 convention website.

Betterment of the industry as a whole. The feeling of community and ‘How can we help each other?’ were pervasive throughout the convention. Among franchisees and franchisors, there’s a real emphasis on peer-to-peer learning and sharing experiences, even among competitors.

VetFran. This amazing organization educates, trains and financially supports veterans. By recognizing that veterans are disciplined and bring real purpose and value to business, VetFran is ‘employing the future of our country.’

Dr. Condoleeza Rice. As the keynote speaker, Dr. Rice gave a moving and passionate presentation about the future of America, the role the private sector will play in keeping us strong and the myriad social and political issues we need to solve, including early childhood education and immigration reform.  Not surprisingly, she received thunderous applause and multiple standing ovations. Read more here.

Building a culture of accountability. This was one of the terrific breakout sessions, geared to improving organizational performance. This one featured the top five best practices from The Glass Doctor franchise owners that covered areas like knowing your numbers and your customers; leading by example; goal setting; and local advertising and marketing.

Less government, more action. Given all the goings-on in Washington, it wasn’t too surprising that another continuing topic of conversation had to do with the government’s influence on business.  Many here seemed to feel that the government is losing focus on the private sector. And although there are sharp differences of opinion on what the government is doing and should be doing, many feel that tax hikes, the Affordable Care Act (aka ‘Obamacare’) and a lack of financial support are hurting franchisees and franchisors.

Job creation. Job creation was a pervasive theme that was woven throughout the convention, the individual sessions and general conversation.  According to IFA’s 2013 Policy Platform, the association represents 825,000 franchise establishments, which support nearly 18 million jobs, $2.1 trillion in economic output and 3.4 percent of GDP!  It expects growth in 2013 of about 2 percent (an estimated 162,000 new jobs and 10,000 new establishments), but says the industry could do even more with the right policies.

The 2013 IFA Convention was a resounding success and we hope you join us at one of the next franchise conferences: Multi-Unit Franchising Conference – March 27-29 in Las Vegas

Image courtesy of the International Franchise Association

Alison Leon

Alison Leon is the Vice President of Marketing at BFS Capital. With over 13 years of experience at major financial institutions, including JP Morgan Chase, Capital One and Bank One, Alison understands the everyday needs of small business owners and the important role that financing plays in growing a business. Her content focuses on marketing strategies and resources for small businesses as well as tips on how to secure financing for any business expense. Connect with Alison on LinkedIn and Google+.