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This year, I attended my first IFA conference, with a mix of excitement and curiosity about what awaited me. Since Elyse (rightfully) put a stake in the ground of what Elysium’s niche was going to be – food & franchise – she returned home from each franchising conference and event beaming with new ideas, learnings, and relationships to add to our #franchisefamily. Having experienced her reactions first-hand, I was eager to learn more about the fascinating world of franchising and meet the franchisors, franchisees, and partners I’ve heard so many wonderful things about. With that, we packed our bags and headed out of snowy Philadelphia to sunny Phoenix to enjoy all the conference had to offer. 

My 4 most significant #IFA2024 takeaways are:

The Franchise Community is POWERFUL:

Over the 4-day conference, we listened to many captivating speakers with incredible stories to share. Don Yeager spoke about the significance of the “why” behind everything we do, making us all teary-eyed as he shared stories of the “why” moments he experienced while working on his book, “Wish Granted,” highlighting inspiring moments from the Make a Wish Foundation. Senator Joe Manchin advocated the importance of political engagement and speaking up to drive forward legislation that will benefit the franchise community and block potential legislation that could be harmful. Deion Sanders, known as Coach Prime, emphasized the importance of being a leader and staying present with his message, ‘Be where your feet are.’ It’s a sentiment we often recognize but sometimes forget amidst the hustle of daily life.”

Franchisors & Franchisees are Stronger Together:

The symbiotic franchisor and franchisee relationship is crucial for mutual success. Franchisors can create processes and operations to set up their franchisees for success as they become small business owners within a more extensive operating system. It is also crucial to have open lines of communication to allow for valuable feedback, fostering brand evolution and cohesion. Conversely, franchisees have the responsibility to follow those previously mentioned processes to effectively shepherd the brand they’ve invested in.

I sat at a fascinating roundtable discussion with a new franchisee, operating for less than two years, who attended IFA on his own intending to learn how other brands communicate with their franchisees. This individual had never had any in-person relation with their corporate team! The roundtable attendees were initially taken aback, but the discussion swiftly evolved into a forum for sharing experiences among franchisees and franchisors alike.. Topics ranged from the efficacy of initiating a Franchise Advisory Council (FAC) to fostering transparent communication channels and understanding the vital information outlined in the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), reiterating their pivotal roles in each side of the franchise relationship. At the end of the day, everyone at the table echoed the same sentiment – a happy franchisor and franchisee is paramount for success.

AI isn’t Going Anywhere.

We’ve all heard about artificial intelligence ad nauseoum so it’s safe to say that we’re aware that it’s ridiculously powerful, sometimes scary, but not going anywhere. AI was a theme throughout the conference, with dedicated breakout sessions, frequent mentions in general sessions, and Elyse even hosted roundtable sessions focused on the matter. Key learnings for franchisors include making sure you don’t place any proprietary information into any AI tool. The rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t post something on your website, you shouldn’t enter it into AI tools. Additionally, providing guidelines and training sessions for your franchisees can be beneficial in making sure your brand standards are protected with the usage of AI tools. For franchisees, remember that embracing the power of AI can help you efficiently run your business. Just make sure you are upholding the standards of your brand and always keep in mind that while AI doesn’t replace people, it definitely can help your people operate more efficiently. 

Nothing is Better Than In Person.

While Zoom provides an efficient and effective means of communication with our clients nationwide, being at the IFA convention was just another reminder that truly nothing is better than being in person. Getting to see our clients and partners beyond the confines of a Zoom box was most definitely my favorite part of the entire conference. Meeting the teams from Zorability, East Coast Wings, MY SALON Suite, Ducklings Early Learning Center Franchise, Entrepreneur Source, and so many others was an experience alone that made the whole trip worthwhile!

IFA 2024 was a fulfilling experience from start to finish, full of wondering learning moments, meaningful connections and a whole lot of fun! We can’t wait for Vegas next year! ~ Lexie