Today, we’re speaking with our sales director, Rameka Jennings, who has over ten years of experience working in franchise meetings and events. During this episode, we discuss our franchise and retail vertical, along with how our agency goes about planning programs for this type of event. Topics include:
- Types of franchise events we plan
- What makes franchise meetings unique
- How to incorporate engaging elements in these events
- Most important elements to consider for franchise conferences
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Hi, and welcome to The Events Experience, where we take a deep dive into everything event planning. I work for Bishop-McCann, an agency devoted to creating JOY through meetings, incentives, and events for big name brands. On this podcast, myself and our company's experts will discuss all things events, so keep listening to hear all about the latest tips and trends for virtual, live, and hybrid events.
Hi, everyone! Joining me today is our sales director, Rameka Jennings, who has over ten years of experience working in franchise meetings and events. Today, we're going to be discussing our franchise and retail vertical and how our agency goes about planning programs for this specific type of event. Thank you for talking with me today, Rameka!
Thanks for having me, Brenna!
Yeah, so I will just start out by letting you tell our audience the three verticals that we plan programs for and what type of events we plan for our franchise clients specifically?
Yeah, so Bishop-McCann actually started in 1997, and we were supporting the pharmaceutical industry. We continue to have really deep roots and partner with several long-term clients in the industry as well. But as we were growing and adding more services along the way, we started diversifying our client base. So we started a silo called commercial that was basically our non-pharma client. With the addition of a marquee franchise client to our catalog of clients, we were able to then start the franchise and retail silo based upon bringing over more franchise clients and looking for support as we planned. This silo then grew even more, and when we purchased ASE group in January of 2020, we had an event agency that was dedicated to the franchise industry, so we were then able to bring over all of their clients as well that were very franchise specific. We were really excited to grow that silo and bring along some experts in the franchise space. We now partner with franchise brands to plan any type of meeting or event that they need support with. That's anything from an annual convention to a board of directors' meetings, training meetings, incentives, reward trips. You know, you give us a reason to celebrate or to bring people together, and we're here to support you!
Awesome, right! So digging more into this specific vertical, what makes franchise events unique?
What I think is really unique about franchise events is that they have a very interesting audience base. There's kind of three different audiences that you're planning for. You have the franchisor or "corporate." Then you have your franchisee base. These are the people that have bought into the corporate organization, so they own part of the business and their own businesses. So you kind of see them as entrepreneurs. These are your attendees that might own one stand-alone store, restaurant unit, or whatever it is, or they could be part of a larger organization that owns and operates lots of different franchises and multiple units of those franchises among the industry. So you really do have very diverse people coming from different backgrounds. And third are the suppliers, and the vendors that are the vendor partners to the actual franchise operation. They support them as well. So you've got people that are standing alone, an entrepreneur, and this might be their only vacation that they get for the year. They all kind of have unique interests as to why they would want to attend an event. So I think it's our job to really make sure that we are strategizing with the corporate entity to make sure that everyone is addressed and has their unique needs answered.
Right. So knowing that for some of these franchisees, this might be the only vacation they get, obviously, we want to make sure that this is an enjoyable experience for them. So what are some ways that we incorporate fun, engaging elements into these kinds of events?
Yeah, so a lot of times it has to do with the location and where we sourced the property, resort, or wherever we're going. So of course, a lot of times if you're considering an annual convention or something, people will consider the Las Vegas, Orlando, places where people could potentially (given the time) either extend, add on a couple of days pre or post, and/or just a lovely place to go if you're only there for a couple of days to get the information while staying at a lovely property. So we always kind of start with finding the home for this event that's going to really speak to the strategy of the franchise. But second of all, it's so easy. Let's just bring in some really fun elements that you're not going to see every day. So whether you're doing a theme night - you know, give someone a reason to dress up in costume, and I'm going to tell you, the franchisees are going to come out for a good time and have the best costumes. But theme nights, things like that, bring in keynote speakers, and if you can afford one of those big names that'll really wow people, it's amazing. Because at the end of the day, what we want to do is energize your attendee base and make sure they understand your strategy, so that when they leave, it is all relative to your theme and what you're trying to convey. They're “walking the walk” and “talking the talk” of what you want them to do. They're going to take that energy that they received at your event, and they're going to be applying it in their entire franchise system. So whether it's the one unit operator or the person that has 30 plus restaurants, they're going to be applying that same energy and be bringing that back to their unique locations.
Right. So other than making sure that attendees not only get this information that they need from this event, but they're also having fun at the same time, what are the most important elements to consider when planning a franchise meeting or event?
So again, understanding the unique, diverse attendee base that you will have. But also kind of thinking from the attendees' experience of, “What do they want to achieve when they're there?” So again, speaking to the franchise community, they might want a good agenda that gives them maybe an afternoon off to enjoy the location where they are, but then incorporate some of the timing as well so they can have the informational sessions. But really, we've discovered that if you can put people together and share best practices (whether it's a roundtable or finding unique ways to highlight sponsors and giving sponsors the opportunity to really have dedicated time with the leadership team), that's what they're looking for. You know, you talk about sponsorship, and these sponsors are spending the money to support your brand, but you want to give them more return than just a logo on a banner or cocktail napkin. Think about what they could potentially do to help the end user. What the vendor wants to do is they want some time, they want some exposure. Yeah, of course they're going to potentially have a trade show, but at the end of the day, a lot of people are going away from trade shows, too. So that's stripping back another layer that the sponsors would normally have as exposure to either the attendees, the corporate base, or whatever. Consider doing a breakfast roundtable where you bring in your leadership and maybe just have the sponsors and suppliers in that room. That's one breakfast; that's dedicated time. So really kind of thinking about the different people and what they want to get out of each interaction is really important to consider.
Well, thank you so much for meeting with me today, Rameka, and for sharing your insights into franchise events!
You're so welcome!
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Events Experience. Don't forget to subscribe to our podcast, and create JOY wherever you go!