Day two of the IFA Annual Convention 2022  | Global Franchise
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Day two of the IFA Annual Convention 2022 


Day two of the IFA Annual Convention 2022 

The much-awaited Shaquille O’ Neal both entertained and educated the crowd in a riveting, hour long talk with Charlie Chase

The International Franchise Association (IFA) has always placed an emphasis on its certified franchise executive (CFE) program. That’s why Jennifer Brandeen started the day by recognizing and honoring the 156 graduates of 2021 and 122 of 2022.  

Opening General Session 

Paul Brown, the CEO and co-founder of Inspire Brands, which operates seven distinct QSR brands around the world. He spoke on the restaurant industry playing catchup with others, and that it’s the last global industry that hasn’t been transformed by technology. Brown, however, knows the importance of tech, and has invested thoroughly into it. 

“We first invested in A.I. based data analytics, it’s paid off around personalization and seeing what happens behind the scenes with loyalty programs,” said Brown. 

Shaquille O’ Neal made his highly anticipated appearance at IFA 2022 on stage in discussion with Charlie Chase, the president of FirstService Brands. Shaq spoke about his introduction into business and how he was drilled into working hard by his father, an Army drill sergeant. His mother also taught him to be open and giving with those who have less. 

“People call it giving back – I call it listening to what my mother tells me,” said Shaq. 

Customer service is a big part of Shaq’s philosophy in franchising, he believes that the customer has to be kept happy, and that can be seen in the policies of any franchise locations he owns. 

“If we mess up an order, people get a free dozen. We’re all about community, we’re all about making people happy,” said Shaq, speaking about his policy at his Krispy Kreme location in Atlanta. 

Shaq sits on Papa Johns board, and did so after making a point that the board had zero minority representation. Since his addition to the board in 2018, Shaq has led efforts to increase the representation of women and minorities in the franchise system. Shaq also made the point that franchisors cannot be sensitive, they need to keep an open mind and always consider the other side of the story. 

“I like reading comments, criticism makes me stronger. I learn from criticism, because there’s truth in it. Instead of getting sensitive about my chicken, I’d speak to my chefs to see if there was anything wrong,” said Shaq, speaking about customer criticism in relation to his own brand, Big Chicken

If there was ever a line that summed up Shaq’s philosophy to business and life, it’s his attitude to his children inheriting his wealth: 

“You don’t get none of my cheese until you get three degrees” 

Overcoming the labor pandemic: helping your franchisees to help themselves and recruit new staff 

Stacie Waller, CFE, president franchise and national accounts division, Althans Insurance Agency – Moderator  

Mark Dawson, COO, Clockwork, Inc. – Speaker 

Marianne Murphy, CFE, vice president of brand experience, Floor Coverings International – Speaker 

Mitch Cohen, franchisee, Sola Salons of New York – Speaker 

A lack of labor has emerged as one of biggest constraints to daily operations and expansion since the pandemic began. Much has been written about this topic, but the panel stressed the importance of conveying your vision to franchisees, and bringing them on board with your plans. It’s also essential that they can see some sort of progression, and that they know where they can go from their current position. 

“Seeing something much bigger that franchisees can be a part of, gives them a sense of longing and gives them a path to work toward,” said Murphy. 

The panel discussed the contribution made by franchisors to local recruiting efforts after franchisees were struggling. Naturally, franchisors have invested a lot more time and resources into franchisee recruitment than ever before, and are looking at increasingly novel ways to keep locations staffed. 

“It’s all about visibility, and you’re never not hiring. You never know when somebody is going to come into your vision who would be a good fit. That includes referral programs with existing employees; everybody wants their friend to look good,” said Murphy. 

Building that work culture, and friendships between employees can be the reason they stay. Building a positive work culture creates a sense of belonging and care for the brand. 

“On any level, building a team is personal. How in tune are you to what the guy sitting next to you wants to achieve? When people know that you’re invested in them, they want to be invested in you,” said Murphy. 

Moving forward now – best strategies and best markets in these times 

Bill Edwards, CFE, CEO and global advisor, Edwards Global Services – Moderator 

Eric Johnson, CFE, global franchising team leader, U.S. department of commerce – Speaker 

David Oppenheim, CFE, shareholder Greenberg Traurig – Speaker 

Alberto Vidal, director international business, Ace Hardware Corporation – Speaker 

The problems franchisors have faced at home in the U.S. has forced them to look abroad to emerging economies to keep growing, but the panel stressed that this kind of expansion requires committed senior management teams and proactive plans. It’s essential to differentiate the incoming brand from others already operating in the country. Preparation for international expansion is key. 

“If there’s a 1 per cent chance you’ll expand internationally, just get ahead of it and protect your brand, do it upfront,” said Oppenheimer. 

Market research to understand a new market is important, as every market is different and unique, and requires a close understanding of its culture to succeed. 

“It took us shy of seven years to go through the process of opening in Mexico with the right supply chains, attorneys and franchise brokers. We’ve opened the first seven stores already,” said Vidal. 

The pandemic created gaps in training and relationships, with many of them shifting online. There was much lost in the virtual training and meetings, but as things are opening up, the panel urged franchisors to shift to in-person, and especially maintaining relationships with master franchisees, who should be regularly visited in person. 

“Just like Mike Tyson said, everybody’s got a plan until a global pandemic hits,” said Oppenheimer. 

Maresa Friedman, chief strategy and marketing officer, Executive Cat Herder 

This massively oversubscribed session covered the ever-growing crossover world of marketing and A.I. There is a great deal of confusion about A.I. and what it will do, and what it may replace. Marketers may sometimes feel that A.I. is taking their job, but it comes down to a lack of education about the subject. Marketing is always growing and the march of technology cannot be stopped. 

“It just takes a little bit of a commitment that you’re going to learn something, and give it a reasonable period of time,” said Friedman. 

There is often the fear that A.I. will replace humans, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A.I. allows for easier innovation and testing, even if it isn’t supported by data. Marketers need not be constrained by data and A.I. predictive analytics. Coinbase’s bouncing QR code ad was a massive hit, but there was no data to suggest it would be. As Friedman put it, “sometimes we don’t trust ourselves and our own experiences.” 

While chatbots were something of an innovation at the time, they’re just a source of frustration now. People want a conversation and to be understood, and conversational marketing can help with this. It’s also essential for brands to use their customer data to personalize on a deep level, to things as trivial as somebody’s favourite t-shirt, as opposed to simple age segmentation. It’s a massive source of insight and predictor of future opportunities and behavior. 

“Personalization is like segmentation on steroids,” said Friedman. 

Larry Weinberg, partner, Cassels – Moderator 

Ximena Couret, associate, Baker McKenzie, LLP – Speaker 

Kerry Renker Green, associate general counsel, global franchise, The Wendy’s Company – Speaker 

Knowing your legal landscape before you make any moves is essential. While the U.S.’s legal system is based on common law, other markets have legislation and codes-based regulations such as in Australia. Franchisors should also consider how strongly laws are complied with before considering a market. 

“Ready, fire, aim is not a good strategy when it comes to franchise development. Having a proactive strategy is going to save you a lot of time and money,” said Green. 

Large and well-known domestic brands rarely think about how well known they are in a new market – which often is not very well known at all. As a result, the brand assumes success and gives a master franchisee the rights without it being tied to performance. The schedule may say one thing, but it is always different in reality. 

“You don’t want to grant exclusivity to anyone unless it’s connected to some kind of results, such as the opening of three locations over a year. I could probably count on my hands the number of times I’ve seen people stick to the development schedule,” said Couret. 

It’s been an excellent instalment of the IFA Annual Convention, with two excellent speakers during both opening general sessions. The education tracks were highly informative and full of franchisors taking keen notes. Overall, it was fantastic to see people in person once again and spark the old connections that the franchising community has developed over the years.

We can’t to see everyone in Phoenix for IFA Annual Convention 2023!

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