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Franch Lessons

The IFA Convention is the largest event in Franchising. Every year, thousands of people in the franchise industry come to learn and connect with others. We’ve been in franchising for 20 years and have found the IFA Convention educational and look forward to attending it each year. And there is no better place to immerse yourself in the industry. In order to continue to educate our team and bring more value to our clients, Hot Dish sent seven of our team members to attend. Taylor Graupmann, our newest Account Executive, shares his experience attending the conference for the first time.

hot dish team at their event booth

Franch 101: IFA 2020

The dust has settled, and IFA 2020 is over. After countless handshakes, parties, and meetings, it’s over. For a first-timer, it was fun, educational, and completely overwhelming. It’s the industry’s largest event, and I couldn’t get over the hugeness of it all – the sheer size, number of attendees, number of vendors and sessions. But also, the huge opportunity for those of us in the franchise industry to connect and gather. When I was presented with the greenfield opportunity (get it?) to attend IFA, I had only spent six short weeks working at Hot Dish as an Account Executive. I had just learned what an FDD was, let alone strategies to implement referral programs for existing franchisees. I had a lot to learn.

The marketing tracks were most interesting to me, but operations-focused sessions helped me gain an important perspective on how franchisors think. A recurring theme throughout the various sessions was looking to the future. From industry regulations to the idea that “What worked to get us here won’t necessarily work to get us there.” Whether an emerging brand or trying to get to 500 units from 100 units, what are you doing to be pushing forward?

Besides the somewhat aggressive “NO SOLICITATION PLEASE” signs, the roundtables were a highlight for me. It was a chance to hear what franchisors, franchisees, and suppliers are actually experiencing in their day-to-day work. Topics ranged from “The Power of TikTok” to “How to Engage Franchisees to Boost System Performance.” It was an opportunity to learn best practices and to be inspired by one another. It was here that it became clear to me just how passionate people are about the franchises they’re building.

Simon Sinek, best-selling author, motivational speaker, and popular TED Talk trailblazer, gave an inspiring keynote address that framed the conference nicely. He talked about how it’s not about where we came from, our competitors, or even the long-term goal. It’s about where we’re going in this never-ending game of business. Being the best leader you can be means remaining flexible, having the courage to fight for your cause, and having trust, transparency, and collaboration among teams. Honestly, I didn’t think any of this was really groundbreaking, but I think it inspired everyone (myself included) to take a step back and try to look at the bigger picture a little differently. I found that the ideas of courage and trust were the main themes many of the attendees took away—at least in the conversations that I had.

One of the best things I heard at IFA was a compliment about Hot Dish. Fresh from Simon Sinek’s talk and thinking about perspective on the business, someone said, “Hot Dish really just helps people become entrepreneurs.” And that really stuck. It’s a goal we can continue to work towards, that we can always get better at- a goal that makes me feel very proud of the work we do at Hot Dish. I’m not fluent in Franch yet, but I’m definitely conversational.

Meeting with clients, bonding with co-workers, and a great keynote from Simon Sinek, made IFA 2020 truly a memorable experience. See you in 2021!

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