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Published October 1, 2021

A Newcomer’s Take on Franchising: Perspectives from the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference

Three takeaways from talking with franchise leaders about the future of franchising

What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. And in the case of the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference, that’s exactly what we wanted. I started with FBR in the midst of the pandemic and without any franchising experience. I’ve heard that franchising could reflect a “good-old boys club” vibe, an industry that was home to people who rarely left it, and to say I was intimidated would be an understatement. Then I had the chance, the absolute pleasure, to attend my first in-person event in Vegas for the MUFC, and that all changed. 

I quickly learned that people in this industry don’t have a “one-size-fits-all” type of story. Some come from a hospitality background, or maybe education, tech or construction. Others were born into franchising, and decided they never wanted to leave. Either way, I found myself asking each person I came into contact with, “How did you get into franchising?”, while I sat back and learned more about this industry than I ever could have imagined. So after three full days of being able to connect and ask these questions with franchise leaders, brands and other suppliers, this is what I found:

1. Franchising isn’t slowing down. 1800 attendees. 1800 attendees were scattered within those walls of Caesars Palace for MUFC. Maybe we were all sick of being cooped up for the last 18 months, but my thoughts reflect what we’ve all been saying: people want to be in control of their own destiny more than ever. Existing franchise owners and new-to-franchising candidates are looking to be their own boss all while joining an established culture they can believe in. As for the future? The MUFC record-breaking attendance solidified our thoughts: franchising is only getting hotter.

2. In-person meetings are still King (or Queen). Networking, hand shakes, breakfast meetings. Business and social engagements will continue to be the heart of business life, no matter how many social media platforms or virtual meetings there are. As I was sharing meals with some amazing leaders in the industry, I came to the realization that no matter how convenient a Zoom meeting is, nothing replaces having dinner (or coffee) with someone you’re excited to meet. (In fact, we’re thrilled to be headed to the Leadership + Development Conference on October 19-21 – schedule some time to meet us!)

3. Data, awards and validation hold more value than ever. We already know that the franchising world is growing more popular – and now it’s more important than ever for brands to differentiate themselves. Whether it was brands on the MUFC expo floor that had our FBR Franchisee Satisfaction Award winner plaque (hint, 22 brands could display this), or others that used our reports to show candidates what their franchisees have to say about them , this data gives candidates the information they need to make an informed buying decision. So yes, data matters – but how you’re using the data matters even more.

We also had the absolute pleasure to sit (in the same room!) with some of the intelligent Women in Franchising. We normally take an hour out of every Wednesday to meet on the new virtual app, Clubhouse, but while we were in Vegas, we did it live…and it didn’t disappoint! After reliving our time at the event, we were able to come together to dig in to what  we would like to see for the future:

Tips for future attendees

  • Invest in small sponsorship opportunities to obtain the list of attendees
  • Reach out to contacts before AND after the event with personalized notes

Hopes for the next conference

  • More diversified and engaged panels,  with new pain points or subjects to discuss
  • Let’s hear more about franchisee retention!

As we look to the future of franchising, my hope is that it will only get more popular and open even more doors for people, like me, that didn’t know it existed. There are so many resources (and leaders) to learn from, including my favorite – A Crash Course in the World of Franchising. Franchising isn’t slowing down, in-person meetings are still on top and data will always be extremely relevant. 

Want additional information on how to join our next Franchise Operations or Franchise Development roundtable? Email me to save your spot!



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About the Author: Courtney Stillings

As the Director of Client Development, Courtney handles new business development, as well as ongoing client relations and account management within FBR. As a person who is passionate about making sure every business can succeed, Courtney loves to get creative in helping franchisors exceed their goals. Outside of work, you can find Courtney going on adventures with her Golden Retriever, Tuckerman and watching any New England sports team!
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