A favorite business mantra throughout my career and life has been "We are who we are because the people that come into our life."
This mantra led me to help launch and spearhead the IFA's Franship Program in 2010. Looking back on the program's inaugural year has provided insight into the industry and forged bonds between different franchisors in administration, operations, sales and marketing, as well as strengthened relationships between suppliers and franchisees.
The mentoring program was designed to provide franchisees, franchisors and suppliers the opportunity to share best practices along with strategic positioning and advice from some of franchising's premiere leaders. Franship has 16 mentors serving as ambassadors and collectively mentoring more than 50 different franchisors, franchisees and suppliers. The program has converted over 80 percent of non-IFA members that reached out to Franship for assistance who have since become members of IFA.
Finding myself on the "other side of the desk" and talking with members of the industry that were seeking advice and knowledge about their own franchises, it became obvious that the industry needed a mentorship program. While the franchising community has always leaned on each other for support, the Franship mentoring program lends structure and formality to the process.
Access to Expert Advice
For instance, Melanie Bergeron, CFE, chairwoman of the Board of Two Men And A Truck and a member of the IFA Board of Directors, now mentors two franchisors on a regular basis as a part of Franship. She was honored to be a part of Franship because of her own experience starting out in the industry.
"When Two Men And A Truck first joined the IFA, the networking and help was like a fresh glass of water in the desert," said Bergeron. "We were desperate for information and everyone we met kindly took us under their wing, it was amazing. This is why I'm eager to give back."
And give back she has. Bergeron gets a lot accomplished on brief phone calls and e-mails with her mentees and says that it is not time consuming. She also adds that it is rewarding to give advice and encouragement and then watch these emerging franchisors take their businesses to the next level.
"I even attended one of my mentee's (Painting with a Twist) first annual convention," added Bergeron. "They did such a great job. It is so rewarding to give recommendations, see them being used, then to be included in their event. The whole...