Organising a franchisee event can take a lot of time and effort and you need to get the formula right if you want to motivate the business owners working under your brand. Here are the key steps you should take as you make preparations for a perfect franchise conference or gathering.
Here at Point Franchise, we have plenty of tips for franchisors who want to grow their business effectively. This article will focus on how to organise a fantastic franchisee event, whether it’s in person or virtually.
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18 tips for franchisors creating a franchisee event
- Know your purpose - Before you start thinking about the finer details of the franchisee event, you should consider its ultimate objective. Ask yourself why you’re organising this gathering and what you want it to achieve. Perhaps you’re briefing franchisees on a new product or service, providing training, creating a networking opportunity to improve company culture or simply giving attendees some tips to boost sales. Once you know your purpose, you can tailor the event to meet your goals.
- Create a budget and stick to it - Franchisee events are important, but you don’t want to spend the better part of your annual budget on them. Work out how much you can afford to put towards your get-together, and plan it with your chosen amount in mind. You may be able to include complimentary refreshments or a free event programme, for example. For virtual events, you can get away with having a much smaller budget, so this could be an option if you need to tighten the purse strings.
- Ask your franchisees for suggestions - Your event will be more successful if it gives franchisees what they want. Send out a poll or ask your followers to comment on a social media post telling you the elements they’d like to see at a franchisee event. Then, incorporate as many of their ideas as possible, prioritising the most popular ones.
- Secure interesting speakers - If your event involves a talk or two, choose your guest speakers wisely. Don’t feel pressured to approach cut-throat businesspeople if they have little charisma and struggle to engage an audience; a high-flying franchisee or a relevant influencer could do the job nicely.
- Make it interactive - The more involved your audience is, the less likely they are to get bored and leave halfway through - particularly if you’re hosting a virtual event. Consider introducing debates, games, competitions and Q&A sessions. You should aim to generate a two-way conversation, rather than talking at your guests. One way of promoting a collaborative atmosphere during an online event is to persuade guests to keep their webcams on.
- Provide networking opportunities - One of the biggest plus points of franchise conferences for franchisees is the chance to make contacts within the business. So, allow for a ‘mingling session’ or give investors time to chat during games or workshops.
- Add an original touch - Guests won’t be interested in attending your franchisee event if it uses the same old formula used by many organisers before you. Make sure your gathering offers something different or valuable to give franchisees a reason to stay.
- Choose your venue or platform - If you’re hosting an ‘in-person’ franchise conference, select a convenient location with a car park, close to public transport terminals. If it’s a virtual event you’re running, choose a platform based on the features you need. Some offer the chance to chat, share screens, upload files and host live polls. Most importantly, make sure your platform can support the right number of guests for your event. For small gatherings, you might decide to use Google Hangouts, Whatsapp or Skype; larger conferences might require Zoom, Demio, Webinar Ninja or Huddle.
- Choose your moment - Timing is crucial if you want a good turnout. Think about whether it makes more sense to run your franchisee event during the day, in the evening or at the weekend. Try to avoid school pick-up times and, if you’re hosting a virtual gathering, steer clear of lunchtimes too, when parents may need to focus on feeding their children.
- Take advantage of tech - Technology isn’t just important for virtual events; you should use it for a ‘face-to-face’ gathering too. You’ll be able to present information in an engaging way by using projectors, video clips, conferencing tools and interactive app games during your event.
- Think about Corporate Social Responsibility - You can’t afford to risk damaging your brand’s reputation by disregarding CSR. When planning, think about how your franchisee event can celebrate diversity, inclusivity and sustainability. These factors should be reflected in everything from the speakers you appoint to the marketing materials you use and the accessibility options in the venue you hire.
- Introduce a registering system - You’ll be better prepared for your franchisee event if you have a good idea of the number of people you’re expecting to attend. Use Eventbrite or Google Forms and ask prospective guests to register in advance.
- Create an itinerary - Once you’ve planned your event in detail, provide franchisees with a run-down of everything due to take place. That way, they’ll be able to plan their day and start to get excited.
- Introduce a hashtag - One of the best ways to create a buzz around your event is to start a hashtag campaign on social media. Make sure all the attendees know how they can spread the word online, and encourage them to upload photos of their day.
- Share resources - Your franchisees will be able to get the most out of the event if you provide them with useful resources. If you plan to discuss an interesting topic, consider creating a document with the key points you’ve covered or helpful tips. By doing this, you can give guests something to take away.
- Incorporate breaks - If your franchisee event will last longer than an hour, make sure you allow time for guests to go to the loo, grab a bite to eat or stretch their legs. People won’t be able to concentrate and stay engaged for hours at a time, so it’s in your best interest to provide breaks.
- Measure results - Don’t forget to evaluate how successfully your franchisee event reached its goals. Go back to step one and make sure you’ve got a way of quantifying the effectiveness of the gathering. Once you’ve collected your findings, you’ll have the information you need to make your next event even better.
- Follow up with franchisees - To gather even more insight, get in touch with your attendees to find out how useful they found the event. You could create a survey with key questions and space for comments.
>> Read more:
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- Why it’s Important for Franchisors to Visit Franchisees.
Hints for virtual events
The number of virtual events has soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many people are still getting used to communicating through online technology. Here are a few tips to make sure your online event runs smoothly:
- Set up in a quiet spot away from family and pets. We’ve all seen those viral videos where children interrupt the speaker halfway through an interview or discussion.
- Brief speakers before the event. As Belinda Barker, World Media Group Director, says:
A webinar doesn’t have the natural flow of a live event, so it’s vital to keep speakers brief and on point. For Q&A sessions, for instance, I'd suggest scripting some of the questions in advance to make sure that speakers are aware and fully prepped for them.
- Have a back-up host ready. Technology glitches happen, so you should always be prepared for someone else to step in if the host drops out for any reason. Emma Robson, Head of Events at Ingenuity London, says:
Wi-Fi is famously temperamental, so it’s helpful to have another team member on standby to jump in when your signal falters. When this happened to my colleague, I had to reclaim myself as a host and take over temporarily.
More information on planning franchise conferences and events
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©