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Register Today for IFA’s 54th Annual Convention

No matter how you are involved in the franchise industry, the IFA Annual Convention delivers significant take-home value.

I have been attending the International Franchise Association’s Annual Convention for nearly 20 years; it’s hard to believe. It has grown phenomenally in terms of attendance and educational content for both franchisees and franchisors. Another area of significant growth is the number of franchise service and product providers participating in the exhibitor marketplace, an educational experience on its own.
Where does meeting content come from? Significant association member and IFA staff planning goes into each convention. Member feedback drives the meeting content. The end goal is that no matter how you are involved in the franchise industry, you have opportunities to gain significant take-home value.

Start With Giving Back and Networking

Before we receive, let’s start with giving. The day prior to the convention kick off is a “Franchising Gives Back” event where meeting attendees work together in a pre-arranged community service project. What better way to get to know fellow association members?

And you certainly can’t miss the “Taste of Franchising.” This is a very popular, all-inclusive networking opportunity where brands can showcase their great food by serving hundreds of attendees. Not only is it a perfect place to rub elbows with fellow industry professionals, it is a wonderful opportunity to let people taste your brand’s food. But wait, you are not a food brand? Then there are several other opportunities to sponsor events that will put your brand front and center.

Is this your first IFA Annual Convention? The New Member-First-Time Attendee Reception is another “can’t miss” session. Here you will receive firsthand instructions on how to best navigate the meeting and get the most take-home value. Every session you attend during the convention is an opportunity to network. Bring plenty of business cards and prepare questions to ask of those who can guide you toward improving your growth.

At the convention, it doesn’t matter what industry you are in, we all speak the same language: franchising. Most attendees, whether mature or new to the industry, can relate to startup issues and are happy to share best practices and lessons learned. There are constant learning opportunities with every person you meet.

Education and More

There are also many Institute of Certified Franchise Executives Special Sessions prior to the convention kick-off. To earn the CFE designation, you simply need to enroll and accumulate credits. Attending the convention and several of the sessions will earn credits toward your CFE.

The ICFE Special Sessions are on a pre-register, first-come, first-served basis. Why get your CFE? It is the No. 1 source for a well-rounded franchise education. Not to mention the networking, ability to stay relevant, gain respect from peers and boost your career advancement.

Another heavily attended and highly ranked event is the Annual Leadership Conference sponsored by the Women’s Franchise Committee. This event is known for featuring industry leader speakers and panels, followed up with roundtable case study discussion and education. During the conference luncheon, the Crystal Compass Award is given to a leading franchise professional who has displayed strong leadership skills and helped mentor others. This is a pre-registered event. Yes, you will earn 100 CFE education credits for attending.

Another key reason to attend the convention is the exhibitor marketplace. Here you’ll find hundreds of suppliers who have the most state-of-the-art products and services to help franchisors or multi-unit franchisees meet your business needs. How refreshing to meet with suppliers who are familiar and experienced with your current and future needs as you grow.

As you peruse the agenda, you will notice many committee meetings. You may be wondering, “How can I get more involved?” My suggestion would be to get your CFE and then express an interest in attending a committee meeting as a guest.

Another attribute of IFA is that it has strong, enthusiastic and experienced volunteer involvement and leadership. IFA committees are hardworking, respected groups of dedicated people who are instrumental in keeping the association relevant and forward-moving. As you get more involved with the association, it is likely you will be asked to get further involved in your area of expertise.

The convention also hosts a well-attended, non-denominational Prayer Breakfast. This popular event is an energizing way to start the day. Enjoy wonderful food, spiritual music and keynote speakers sharing their faith journey. Good for the mind, body and soul.

The convention is also a time of recognition. Many esteemed awards are given to deserving people that our members nominate. The big four are Hall of Fame, Entrepreneur of the Year, Bonny LeVine and Ronald E. Harrison Award which honors excellence in diversity.

Advocacy

One extremely important educational element of the meeting is getting up-to-date information on legislative issues and how they may affect your business, such as the new affordable health care law, immigration reform and workforce policy, just to name a few.

It is crucial to support the IFA’s lobbying efforts that protect our industry. How can you help? By joining “Franchise Congress.”

Since the program’s inception in 2009, participants have built stronger connections than ever before with their elected representatives at both the state and federal levels. How? By leading meetings, answering questions and becoming better informed about the issues that affect their businesses.

Franchise Congress offers action alerts on important issues to keep you informed, expedient ways to contact your representatives and other resources to more effectively convey your most compelling stories to your legislators. To join Franchise Congress, contact IFA’s Senior Director of Political Affairs, Grassroots Advocacy & Multi-Unit Franchisee Engagement Erica Farage at 202-662-0760 or efarage@franchise.org.

The convention itself offers a steady stream of information, delivered in several different formats: Professional keynote speakers, political leaders past and present, interactive panel discussions, educational summits, hundreds of solution-based roundtables led by experts and organized by topic such as leadership, marketing, technology − just to name a few.

And so you aren’t overwhelmed, the IFA does provide a mobile App that will help you organize your agenda, maintain a list of convention attendees and so much more.

The IFA Annual Convention is one of the most well-attended franchising events in the world. It affords one-stop shopping for education, networking and plenty of celebration.

What are you waiting for? Come join us in New Orleans Feb. 22-25, 2014.

Melanie Bergeron, CFE, is chairwoman of the board of Two Men And A Truck International, Inc. and serves as IFA’s treasurer. Find her at http://fransocial.franchise.org/Home/ via the directory.

 

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