Turn Your Convention Momentum into Year-Long Results!
By: Evan Hackel
This is the final installment of our three-part series on leveraging franchisee conventions. Part 1 addressed how to improve attendance at your franchisee convention. Part 2 discussed how to make your franchisee convention an event that provides the maximum benefit to your franchisees.
In part three, we look at strategies you can employ to take the momentum and ideas gathered at your convention into your franchise operations and as a recruiting tool for the next conference. As with parts one and two, we draw on the results of an online survey conducted by Speak!, Ingage Consulting, and Franchise Business Review, which drew responses from nearly 200 franchisors.
Hosting a top-quality, exciting conference can do many things for your organization. For starters, it inspires your current franchisees, sparking and renewing enthusiasm for the business and for the relationship between the franchisees and franchisor. Additionally, a great conference can be a fantastic recruiting tool for new franchisees. If you have candidates that you want to close, bring them to your conference. The energy can be contagious and you can close more sales on the spot. Most of all, a great conference can provide the tools for improvement that can permeate your entire organization.
One important tool in that process is the conference survey. Based on our survey, most franchisors do some level of post-conference survey:
How do you determine the overall success of your meeting?
We do a post-event survey internally
We do both a pre-event and post-event survey internally
We don't measure
We work with a third party to help us understand exactly what the franchisees need and want pre-event and how well we did post-event
Whether you survey your franchisees as they leave the conference or through an e-mail survey a week to 10 days later, your post-conference survey should include the following questions:
What were the top two highlights of the conference for you (e.g., speaker X)?
How can we make the conference better (e.g., more/fewer speakers, more networking)?
Do you feel you received a good return on your investment in coming to the conference?
"You want your survey to provide genuine feedback on your conference and that doesn't restrict the commentary," says Eric Stites, founder and CEO of Franchise Business Review. "In fact, quite often the people providing the most significant and constructive comments are also people who gave the conference a favorable review and want it to be a success."
According to our survey more than 90% of franchisors do undertake their own survey as part of the conference, typically following the event (68.1% report doing post-event surveys; 22.5% report doing pre and post-event surveys).
In general, the vast majority of survey respondents reported that their franchisees were satisfied to a certain level with their conferences.
From a franchisee motivation and inspiration perspective, how satisfied are you with your conference/conventions?
However, the nearly 200 franchisors who responded to the survey were not quite as satisfied with how their conference resulted in improved franchisee performance. While nearly half were "very satisfied," more than half were only "somewhat satisfied."
How satisfied are you with your conference/conventions from an operational perspective, helping the franchise system operate better?
So how do you make your franchisee conference a winner after the event as well as during it? The key is in the follow-up, and that starts with the takeaways from conference. These can include:
An implementable action plan. During the course of your conference, incorporate time in between speakers and events where your franchisees can draft an action plan based on the ideas being discussed. By the end of your conference, your franchisees should have a plan of ideas they can implement.
Provide presentations for franchisees to share with their organization. Whether it's a PowerPoint, DVD, or YouTube video, franchisors should provide some sort of takeaway where franchisees can share what they learned at the conference with their staff. Franchisees, in turn, should schedule time to review with staff what they learned at conference.
Give them a scorecard. In addition to the action plan, your franchisees should leave with a scorecard where they can track how well they are progressing in incorporating the ideas learned at conference and tracking results. The scorecard is also something franchisees should be sharing with their franchise consultant to to chart progress and ensure they are meeting their goals.
Reward conference attendees. Part of your conference follow-up should include "earlybird" discounts for the franchisees who attended. This can start by offering special discounts at the conference for the next year's event and continuing those in your marketing efforts. Do not extend discount offers to franchisees who did not attend the previous conference.
Review with non-attendees. Schedule time for your franchise consultant to review the content from the conference for franchisees who did not attend. Be sure to bring them takeaways from the conference to bring their staff up to speed, as well as providing them with the scorecard described above.
In many ways, the follow-up work you do with your franchisees is as important as the conference itself. Granted, there is nothing like a live event to fire up your franchisees. Proactive and consistent follow-up can carry that torch to improved results during the ensuing year and at the next conference.
Evan Hackel, CFE is the principal and founder of Ingage Consulting and has 25 years of franchise experience, having developed, implemented and managed three successful new franchise systems. He can be reached at (781) 569-5900 or email@example.com.
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