Great Concept, Great Execution: Multiunit Conference Makes Big Splash In The Arizona Desert

If you were fortunate enough to attend the annual Area Developer Multi-Unit Franchising Conference this April in Scottsdale, you know that the weather was terrific, the facility outstanding, educational sessions abundant, and that franchise networking opportunities flourished late into the cool desert night.

With more than 150 multiunit franchisees, plus another 250 franchisors and suppliers, this was the best attended and most successful conference in the 7-year history of this event. And the follow-up evaluations confirmed that yes, this was a "deal-making" conference.

This did not happen by accident. The folks at Franchise Update Media Group, led by Therese Thilgen and Gary Gardner, assembled an awesome team of Franchise Update staff and multiunit franchise leaders to develop and execute what has become a "must attend" event.

The theme of the event, "Mastering Growth," focused on the opportunities available for successful multiunit, multi-concept operators. Educational seminars focused on growing into the next level of multiunit operations. Sessions examined dealing with growing pains as you expand to 20, 50, or more units; best practices for recruiting and retaining top employees; and overcoming hurdles in finding the best locations and necessary financing. And all of it revolved around the idea of growth.

The keynote speakers reinforced the opportunities available to those seeking growth. Economist and author Barry Asmus shared his positive message about how strong the U.S. economy still is compared with the rest of the world. FRANdata's CEO Darrell Johnson updated us on the state of the economy and franchise marketplace: there's ample room for growth. Author Larry Winget gave his humorous and unique spin on taking responsibility for our own actions. Larry's book "Shut Up, Stop Whining, and Get a Life" perfectly describes his message.

And from Jim Sullivan, who knows a thing or two about how to improve performance in multiunit operations (his multiunit leadership program is known as the place "Where Leaders Go To Learn"), we heard specific action plans and the important role multiunit managers play in growth. Two gems from Jim: "Stop managing people and get better people"; and "Well done is better than well said." Both made it into my notes—and into my company operations when I returned home.

Outside of the sessions and speakers, the three-day event built in plenty of quality networking time. The commitment of the annual conference is always to schedule time for multiunit operators to get to know each other and share ideas on concepts they like and on operating their organizations. Our thanks to the successful multiunit franchisees who were generous as ever in sharing their time and advice with operators seeking to grow to the next level.

For most franchisors, future unit growth will come from multiunit franchisees. This conference provides an annual venue for all to explore mutually beneficial relationships—including the suppliers who provide services and products targeting growth-oriented multiunit franchisees (and who consummated some deals of their own).

I must mention that it is always an inspiration to witness "Little Rocco" (Rocco Fiorentino, Jr.) sing "God Bless America" during the event. His organization, The Little Rock Foundation, is a fantastic group that helps children suffering from blindness and other visual impairments to lead fuller lives.

Planning is already well under way for the 2009 Area Developer Multi-Unit Franchising Conference, next April at the fabulous Bellagio hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Be sure to put this event on your calendar because these conferences just keep getting better each year. And that is saying something.

Published: August 7th, 2008

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