Just as an operations manual and royalty payments are an integral part of franchising, so are Annual Conferences and Regional Meetings. Regardless of a size and industry, you can expect franchisors worldwide to orchestrate and host an Annual Conference.
The purpose of the Annual Conference is to get the franchisor and franchisees all under one roof (attendance is normally mandatory) so that the franchisor can update franchisees on the latest developments and advancements.
It is a fantastic opportunity for the franchisor to train franchisees on any changes to the franchise system (such as a new IT system), to share success stories of other franchisees, to educate on any developments in the marketplace and much more.
The Annual Conference is normally a key event of the year and can be anything from a day-long meeting at the Franchisor’s HQ through to a full blown three-day event with key-note speakers and award ceremonies!
It’s common for external suppliers to come and exhibit at the conference or provide specialist seminars for the franchisees. There is often a motivational element to the conference as well, which usually manifests as a combination of special guest speakers and awards for top performance.
As a franchisee, one of the greatest benefits is having the opportunity to network and connect with your fellow franchisees; to find out how business is going for them, what they’re doing that’s working, what changes they’ve seen in the marketplace and more. A good franchisor will often facilitate these conversations and provide ample time for networking (usually in the evening when people can relax over a drink).
As a franchise network grows, it will usually look to supplement its Annual Conference with Regional Meetings. Regional Meetings happen once a year and usually occur around the same time. They tend to be broken down into regions i.e. South East, South West, etc. and are normally more formal in nature than the Annual Conference.
Regional Meetings allow for the franchisor to have more regular contact with their franchisees so that they have a greater understanding of what’s happening at the ground level. They can be an excellent platform for franchisees to share any challenges and/or concerns.
Like the Annual Conference, the franchisor may bring in specialist suppliers that provide educational seminars, such as a business broker who can educate franchisees on how to prepare their business for sale.
Traditionally, Regional Meetings tend to be more formal in style with a fixed agenda and maybe even a round table. They rarely last longer than a day and attendance is normally compulsory. In comparison, the Annual Conference tends to be more of an ‘event’, with guest speakers and award ceremonies. Annual conferences have a more social element to them and can be great ways of forming new relationships and building upon on old ones.