FLDC Is Back - And Better Than Ever!
For the first time since October 2019 the Franchise Leadership & Development Conference was held <live and in person> and was one of the most energy-filled events I’ve seen in long time—as it was for so many of the attendees. You could feel it: there was a palpable buzz in the air. And you could see it in the spontaneous hugs, elbow bumps, and excitement at seeing one another again after so long. If there were a theme song for this year’s FLDC, it might be “Reunited.”
Pandemic or no pandemic, it’s always great to attend the conference and see franchise leaders interact and share their development challenges and insights into how to maximize (or at least improve)their development skills, practices, and processes. Still, after being cooped up for so long, networking and personal connections were more important than ever. Read all about it in this issue.
In tandem with the FLDC, we close out every year by devoting our Q4 issue to the theme of franchise development. That’s a big topic any time of year. It’s also when we publish highlights from the Annual Franchise Development Report (AFDR); the results of our annual Mystery Shopping exercise; and profile the winners of our annual STAR Awards, which recognize outstanding performance by franchise development teams.
The AFDR is a treasure trove of data and analysis on topics ranging from recruitment budgets to, where brands are spending their marketing funds to cost per lead, cost per sale, the role of brokers, and more. This year’s results, filtered through the lens of the pandemic, were more eagerly awaited than ever. For franchise development teams planning their strategies and tactics for the coming year, the benchmarking data in the AFDR is golden, perhaps shining a more brightly this year as they scramble to find their footing in today’s uncertain environment. Participants who filled out the in-depth online survey receive a free copy. See more about the results in the following pages.
Our annual Mystery Shopping exercise also drew serious interest from the attendees whose brands were shopped by experts posing as qualified prospects. You could hear groans and laughter at the general session as the pseudonyms of the mystery shoppers were announced. Again, see more about the results and analysis in this issue.
Then there are the annual STAR Awards, always a cause for a spirited, sometimes raucous, celebration at Maggiano’s Little Italy, a short walk from Atlanta’s InterContinental Buckhead. The STAR (Speaking To And Responding) Awards evaluate the performance of frandev teams with winners selected in several categories. This year saw some new faces take the stage to receive their awards, as well as some perennial winners.
Like The Dude in “The Big Lebowski,” the franchise business model abides. But beyond that, franchising persists, innovates, and continues to grow and change in the face of (yes, we’ll say it) Unprecedented Challenges, many of which are likely to continue. Since March 2020, franchise executives and development teams have worked harder than ever to recruit new franchisees and keep their doors open and their systems solvent. We are a resourceful group that once again has demonstrated it can thrive under stress. So thanks to all involved, franchising endures. To name another old song, “Keep Yourself Alive.”
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