Franchise development series recap: "Unconference" format successful, '09 session planned: expertise provided by "Unconference" attendees who are currently managing daily franchise operations is beneficial.

Author:Darby, Lynette E.
Position:EVENTS
 
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Developing and expanding your franchise system in a challenging economy calls for sharing proven methods that overcome obstacles and achieve success. Continuing to provide an accessible pass to established franchisors and providing brand-building tips, the International Franchise Association's Franchise Development Series was conducted in four major cities in 2008, including Atlanta, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

Along with addressing topics such as lead generation, building an effective sales team, profiling and qualifying candidates and closing the sale, the seminars featured franchisor case studies that were conducted by executives of such franchises as Carlson Hotels Worldwide, FOCUS Brands, Maaco Enterprises and Tasti D-Lite.

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An addition to the 2008 series was the debut of the "Unconference" programming format unveiled during the Super Session in Los Angeles. Due to the recent challenges in the economy, the session aimed to maximize attendees' experiences and placed a portion of the programming in their hands. The content of the morning session was created and managed by participants rather than IFA staff and invited speakers. When addressing the everyday problems and challenges that come with trying to expand franchise businesses, the thoughts, insights and expertise provided by attendees who are currently managing daily franchise operations was most beneficial.

"The Unconference session was a refreshing approach to getting attendees involved in discussing current issues," said FranNet Pres. and COO Jania L. Bailey. "The topics discussed in the Unconference were timely and relevant to everyone in attendance. I would be very interested in attending sessions of this type in the future."

During the first Unconference-brainstorming session, all attendees were given an opportunity to share their ideas for potential breakout session topics. At the conclusion, the group cast votes for the list of topics presented and determined the final four topics that became the topics for the breakout sessions conducted during the remainder of the morning. Attendees whose topics were selected became the discussion leaders, providing their thoughts and then opening the session to an...

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