Being a franchisor means being part of a family. And now might be the perfect time to bring your family together by planning a franchise conference. Hosting a franchise event means providing a space where everyone can share ideas, plan future initiatives, celebrate accomplishments, and generate excitement for what’s ahead.

Not only that, but franchise conferences or trade shows present opportunities for education and building connections between franchisees, vendors, and corporate leadership. As a result, these events boost brand loyalty, create excitement, recruit new owners, build relationships with vendors, and foster community among established and new franchise owners. Considering these remarkable benefits, it’s essential to understand exactly how to plan a successful franchise conference.

keynote speaker addresses audience

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What Is a Franchise Conference?

Franchise conferences provide an opportunity for individuals associated with the business to gather while showcasing the brand and all elements of the organization. Not only does the meeting offer a chance to create a robust community of business owners with similar products, services, and goals; but it also creates a space to introduce and announce new initiatives.

Franchise conventions may vary depending on business goals and size. But, generally, these events provide a space for collaborative thinking, sharing insights, and gaining new industry-relevant knowledge. These conferences also provide an effective way to create and preserve a healthy franchisor-franchisee relationship. Plus, franchisors can use this as an opportunity to recognize major accomplishments and allow owners to gather to discuss best practices. 

Why Franchisors Need to Make Their Event Memorable

In 2020, the franchise market (like many other markets) saw limited growth, but after a bounce-back in 2021, 2022 established itself as a year of expansion. In fact, Forbes named 2022 the year of the franchise with unprecedented growth. 

Now, that growth seems to be stabilizing, what does this mean for franchisors? The Franchise Business Review suggests that businesses will now be able to slow down their decision-making processes and return to a focus on the fundamentals of franchising. Instead of striving for maximum growth, the goal now is to focus on the growth that has been made and optimizing internally. 

On a similar note, in order to still be successful, franchises need to prioritize employee retention. By shifting gears to concentrate on current employees, organizations will avoid dealing with the effects of employee turnover and frequent hiring. This will necessitate ensuring that employees are engaged with the franchise and establishing a positive workplace culture. 

And what better way to promote franchise engagement and culture than with a conference? Events are a great way to bring teams together, boost morale, and promote collaboration. Plus, these experiences can also reward franchisees for what they’ve accomplished within their own business. By doing this, you can improve overall satisfaction, meaning your attendees will be more motivated to improve operations, achieve goals, and remain loyal to the franchise. 

Top Eight Ways to Excite and Delight Franchisees During Your Conference

The key to ensuring an unforgettable franchise event is meticulous planning. Hiring an event planning company with franchise-based experience makes organizing and creating that event much easier, especially if you keep in mind the components below.
pool side venue for corporate event

1. Select the right venue   

While you want to ensure you're choosing the best hotel or space, you must also ensure that it's the right venue in the right city. In terms of the destination, you often want to choose a centralized location for attendees, but don’t lose sight of the importance of finding a unique site that offers enticing elements. To do that, consider locations that have appeal beyond the convention – attractions and off-site activities that bolster the appeal of the conference. It's important to provide attendees with options for relaxation and entertainment.

Further, ensuring seamless travel arrangements with convenient transportation options to and from your venue is a must. You may also want to consider a conference app that includes travel information, real-time updates on schedules, and interactive maps to help attendees navigate the area.

2. Invite a compelling keynote speaker

Franchisors should invite speakers who can address current concerns and motivate franchisees to reach their goals. Throughout the industry, there has been a shift toward inviting subject matter experts as keynote speakers. By doing so, franchisors can stay within their budget and highlight someone with a unique perspective on current issues, targeting precisely what franchisees need to know to be successful.

3. Choose engaging entertainment

Often people assume the best option means expensive. While having a big-name headliner is great, spending tons of money is not always necessary to provide quality entertainment. Additionally, entertainment doesn’t need to be just one blowout production that spends your entire entertainment budget.

In fact, small entertainment opportunities that engage your attendees can be more memorable and fun. Whether it’s games, DJs, or activities that invite your attendees to participate, you may be able to create more unforgettable moments with a variety of intimate experiences rather than one expensive performance.

4. Don't forget about experiences

Beyond speakers and entertainers, attendees also want to gain value from the event. Because franchise conferences are a great way to promote networking, it makes sense to include downtime for socialization and event activations to keep everyone involved in the fun. 

Additionally, franchise events are a great way for franchisors to consider their corporate social responsibility (CSR). These conferences are an opportunity to rally everyone to work toward a greater cause, such as volunteering at a local charity or hosting a silent auction that raises money for a local charity. You may also want to make concerted efforts to highlight sustainability by including environmentally-conscious items in swag bags like reusable branded water bottles. 

5. Invest in your trade show

One of the most exciting parts of a franchise conference is the trade show. Your attendees look forward to seeing new products and having the opportunity to meet and speak with vendors. They’re also looking forward to trade show swag! Ensuring that you showcase some of your larger vendors, as well as new and exciting products, will delight your guests. But keep in mind that trade shows might only make sense for larger franchise conferences.
man and woman hug on stage during awards ceremony at a corporate event

6. Keep your vendors in mind

On the note of trade shows, these large-scale expos might not make sense for every franchise event. Instead, consider how your event would best reap the benefits of vendors and how those companies fit into your plan. If large expos aren’t the right fit, it might be time to pivot to table-top-style shows where attendees can interact on a more personal level with vendors.

Along those lines, vendors are also attendees. While they may not be participating in every aspect, they still deserve appreciation for their time, so make sure you give your vendors the recognition they deserve by ensuring they have everything they need. You may even want to give them a branded swag bag as well.

7. Plan awards ceremonies

Not just one – instead consider hosting multiple awards ceremonies to reap the most benefits for franchisees. Why? Because no one wants to sit through an awards ceremony that takes multiple hours to honor every winner. Instead, plan several smaller, more intimate awards ceremonies for specific audiences.  

By doing so, you’ll be able to cultivate personal experiences that shine a spotlight on those deserving of recognition. For franchise conferences, you might consider awards ceremonies for franchisees from each region. Or even take some time to recognize any plus-ones in the room to get everyone involved in the fun. The point is, it might be time to take a step away from traditional awards ceremonies and change things up. Attendees’ preferences are changing, so event planners need to pivot as well. 

8. Create an exciting theme

What better way to make a franchise event memorable than with a fun theme? The right theme is not only entertaining for attendees, but it can also reinforce the message you’re trying to convey. Plus, these themes create excitement and buzz, so your guests will leave your event with that lingering feeling of joy, ready to work hard and boost franchise success.

Use your event theme to set the tone for your franchise conference, and take it a step further by incorporating environmental branding to truly create a captivating experience in which franchisees become immersed in what you’ve created. Think stair wraps, floor clings, and window decals. Don’t forget the photo ops throughout the event, so attendees can share their experiences online!

Because a franchise conference is vital to your brand, the best tip we can offer to ensure your meeting is memorable is to work with an event planning agency – one that can advise you on all aspects of your event from venue and entertainment to swag bags and more.

If you’re ready to start planning your next franchise event, get in touch with the team at Bishop-McCann. Not only do we have years of event planning experience, but we’re also exceptionally familiar with the needs of franchise owners. We know exactly how to leverage these events to continue building your franchise family.

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