Tag Archive: IFA


There are many reasons to attend networking events, seminars and conferences.  I always ask myself:  “What’s the ROI. What is the return on my investment (time and financially) to attend”? 

If you are involved in the franchising industry you may be very interested in the event to be held in Atlanta next week called FranCamp.

Below is a quick overview of the presentations for FranCamp. We have strong franchise industry leaders as speakers and/or round-table moderators. The list of attendees is equally impressive. The Goddard School, Learning Express Toys, Mr. Rooter and Nothing Bundt Cakes are a few of the franchisors that are registered to attend. There are several IFA Supplier Forum Members such as Engage121, Fish Consulting and FranNet that will be present.

There are seats still available. Registration can be found http://fransocialcamp.com/register/

Special thanks to AK Stout and FitDesk for the great door prize donation! If you are not familiar with the FitDesk, watch AK’s review by clicking here.

If you will not be in Atlanta for the event, watch the Twitter stream and tweets #FranCamp. We will do our best to share the information as we hear it live!


I mustn’t forget to mention the TweetUp! Thursday, May 3rd 7pm at the JW Marriott in Buckhead Atlanta! Open to the public so bring a friend and have a great time networking over cocktails. http://tweetvite.com/event/francamp

Last week I had the opportunity to work with Joe Mathews, Franchise Performance Group and a leading franchise system. One of the topics of the day was evaluating the current corporate culture and steps needed to create an “achievement culture”.

Joe says: “Whatever the culture is, whatever the organization values, will ultimately determine the overall behavior and therefore effectiveness of the organization. The culture of the organization can be best described by how the corporate executives and the franchisees answer the following questions”:

  • Would franchisees say the value of the tools and support they receive is greater than or equal to the royalty dollars invested?
  • Do franchisees, employees, and leadership of the franchisor trust each other and work towards crafting mutually profitable campaigns, offers, and solutions?
  • Do franchisees feel they are heard AND understood?
  • Does information routinely flow up and down the organization or just funnel down from the top?
  • Would franchisees say they are informed about issues important to them?
  • Would they say they feel like an integral part of a team or more like the low man/woman on the totem pole?

If you are a member of a franchise organization, how would you answer the questions above? Does your organization have an achievement culture that attracts and retains top franchisor executives, employees and franchisee talent?   If not, what would it take to move the organization to achievement?

The Dwyer Group out of Waco, TX is an excellent example of an achievement culture. They are not only an active member in the franchise industry but in my opinion one of the leaders. Dina Dwyer-Owens has served as the CEO and chairwoman of The Dwyer Group since 2007. She is past chair of the International Franchise Association (IFA) and recently appeared on Undercover Boss!

Like most organizations, The Dwyer Group has an official mission statement and vision. What stands out in The Dwyer Group is their  Code of Values. Employees and franchisees are encouraged to live by the values professionally and personally.

  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Customer Focus
  • Having Fun in the Process!

Dina has published, Live R.I.C.H, where she shares how the company values are the roadmap to success of The Dwyer Group.  I highly recommend it.

Outside of the franchise industry is a company in Las Vegas Nevada that is well known for their service and their culture. That company is Zappos.  Tony Hsieh, CEO helped Zappos grow from very little to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually. That’s very impressive but what is equally impressive is their ranking  as “Best Companies to Work For”.  Tony and the Zappos team live by their 10 core values, listed below.

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

To learn more about Zappos, read Delivering Happiness by CEO, Tony Hsieh and request their recent Culture Book via this link http://about.zappos.com/our-unique-culture/zappos-core-values

What other franchises or organizations do you believe has an Achievement Culture?

Do you need help building an Achievement Culture? If so, connect with me!

Enchanted by Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki speaking at IFA

The closing speaker at IFA (International Franchise Association) convention was Guy Kawasaki, author of Enchantment. Guy defines Enchantment as “the process of delighting people with a product, service, organization or idea.” 

He shared several tips on how to be enchanting. Below are his top three:

  1. Be Likable – Learn how to smile! Sincere smiles create crows feet. Accept others. If you want to be liked, you have to like others.
  2. Achieve Trustworthiness – Trust others and then they will trust you. Gaining trust starts with giving trust.
  3. Bake, Don’t Eat – Bakers don’t see the world as “your gain is my loss and my gain is your loss.” Default to a paying it forward attitude. How can you help others?

Despite a recent surgery, Guy spoke with passion and enthusiasm. The lessons he shared to become enchanting are in his book and I highly recommend it!

Waiting for Guy

As Guy was leaving he paused for a quick picture with me. Well,  I have a confession to make – I asked his limo driver if I could hold the sign to draw Guy to me. The driver looked at me as though I had lost my mind but then with a big smile (including crows feet) he politely handed me the sign and said he would be waiting at the limo and would I kindly chaperon Guy in that direction.

Not only did I have a front row seat to hear one of the best presentations I have attended but I personally was given the opportunity to shake Guy’s hand, thank him and become completely enchanted! Not a bad way to end a great IFA convention attendance.

Thank you IFA and Guy!

Guy and Me!!

There will be several upcoming blog posts with updates regarding the IFA2012 (International Franchise Association) annual convention held in Orlando, FL.

I was honored to be interviewed by Nancy Weingartner, Executive Editor at Franchise Times in the E. H. Anderson, PR booth at the convention.

Deb Evans IFA2012 Insights: Social Networking from E.H. Anderson Public Relations on Vimeo.

Don’t forget to download my new eBook on Social Networking to the right and share the link! It is designed for the franchise industry but can be used by all.

Time to Prep for #IFA2012

TweetChat - #IFAtwtup

On Thursday, February 9th at 8am PT/10am CT/11am ET Engage121 and I will host a  Q&A TweetChat session  about the #IFA2012 Convention. What to wear, where to meet, what to bring, who to network with, what sessions to attend …

If you have not participated in a TweetChat before, the process is easy. Log into Twitter. Post your questions and use the hashtag #IFAtwtup.   Jen MacDonald, Director of Community & Client Engagement from Engage121 will moderate the questions and post as: Q1 #IFA2012 *********#IFAtwtup. If you have the answer simply reply with with A1 *******#IFAtwtup.

All Twitter – The Unofficial Twitter Resource has a blog post on “5 Useful Tools to Monitor Hashtags.” Choose the platform of choice and join in the conversation!

Monday, 10:15 AM Crystal Ballroom A&B

I hope you will join me in the session The Twitter Frontier: Harnessing the Power of Social Media While Protecting Your Franchise System with David Beyer, Quarles & Brady; Chad Cohen, Fish Consulting and Todd Leiser with Valpak. We have some exciting case studies to share and  tips on using social media. We will host a live TweetChat from the session collecting and answering questions, not only from the audience but from the virtual audience following our session.

Attending the IFA Tradeshow is a must! The list of exhibitors is massive so knowing who will be there and scheduling time takes a plan of action. Not only is it the place to find the newest products and services in the industry but there are door prizes, games, food and networking!

Watch the  video by Liz Anderson explaining how  e. h. Anderson, PR (Franchise PR specialist) and Franchise Times are prepping  for IFA 2012 (booth 306).

The clock is ticking. Plan ahead and prepare yourself for one of the best franchising events offered.

I can’t wait to see you there and as Liz mentioned in the video, I will be announcing my new venture!

Are You Ready for #IFA2012?

In just four weeks the franchise industry will gather in Orlando FL for IFA’s (International Franchise Association) 52nd Annual Convention.

Is it your first time to the annual convention? Are you prepared to network with 3k people in the franchise industry? Can I help?  Send me an email devans.ce@gmail.com  and let’s schedule time to chat.

In the meantime, here are a few tips:

Business cards

Social Business Card

This is stating the obvious and I’m sure you have your cards ready but do they include your social connections? Have you listed your Website, Twitter handle, Facebook and Blog link? Do you have a photo? What about a QR code leading to one of your social platforms?

If you hurry you might be able to order FREE Facebook MOO cards! Find the link here

Planner

There is an app for that! IFA is offering a smartphone app that provides schedule of events, lists of speakers, exhibitors, session descriptions, handouts and much more! App link 

For some it might be easier to view the brochure via this link as you add events to your calendar on your smartphone:

Meet Industry Leaders

One of the highlights is the  The CEO Business Solution Roundtable session held on Monday February 13th (2:45-4:45). Some of franchising’s most accomplished leaders (CEOs, CFOs, COOs, Presidents, and Executive Vice Presidents) are available to share their success stories and moderate discussions on franchise relations, sales, operations, etc.

The complete list of approximately 50-75 tables and the moderators will be in the conference material received at registration. Take time to view the list. There will be a huge variety of topics and moderators. Consider learning more about the moderator on LinkedIn or their Website prior to the session.

Keep in mind that you will only have the opportunity to attend two 35 minute sessions.  If the two (tables) you want to attend are at opposite ends of the room, you may not get to both. Imagine a room with 3k people moving from one table to another in a period of a five minute break between sessions.  If you want to attend the session at table 10 and then table 78 the chances that you can easily glide from one table to the other is unlikely but not impossible.  Plan your route (seriously).   As much as you may want to, it is not acceptable to stand on the tables and move from one to the other until you reach your destination. Choose your tables wisely!

Largest Networking Events in the Industry

This is not the time to be shy or humble. Have your business cards in hand and be ready to meet as many people as possible. Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself to the IFA staff. They do a fabulous job putting the convention together and are a great group of individuals.

Matt Haller

Matt Haller (IFA) Paul Segreto (franchisEssentials) Jack Monson (Engage 121)


As a first time attendee you will be notified by an IFA Ambassador. The IFA Ambassador will contact you prior to the convention. Their goal is to make you feel comfortable at the convention; understand the services IFA offers and how to get the most out of the convention.

Plan to attend the reception held specifically for those members that are new to the Convention and to the IFA.  The reception is Saturday, February 11th from 5:30pm – 6:30pm in Grand 7 at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

Taste of Franchising will follow and it is one of the most popular events! It is a one of kind networking event that showcases some of the best food that franchising has to offer.

IFA TweetUp

Whether you are curious about social media or already engaged – the #IFA2012 TweetUp should not be missed! Join us after the Taste of Franchising at the Main Lobby Bar and Veranda in the Marriott. Enjoy cocktails and social media conversations. RSVP http://tweetvite.com/event/ifa2012

Don’t forget to view the exhibit list and schedule time to attend the exhibit hall events. There are always games, door prizes and of course the opportunity to learn more from the IFA approved vendors who provide innovative and cost-effective products, solutions and services.

Don’t Go Home Disappointed

Planning should start now, not when you arrive in Orlando. Decide on the sessions you want to attend, schedule time with those you want to meet with, and make a list of what vendors you need to spend time with during Exhibit Hall hours.

If you have extra time and planning to visit Disney World here is a link to FASTPASS  which will cut your wait at some of the attractions. http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/fast-pass/

I’m busy preparing for my session Twitter Frontier: Harnessing the Power of Social Media While Protecting Your Franchise System with Todd Leiser,  Chad Cohen and David Beyer. I have the app and loading my calendar, viewing speaker bios, and scheduling meeting with vendors.

What tips and suggestions do you have to share?

 

It all started a year ago!

In 2009 I immersed myself  in social media seeking ways to build brand awareness for COMPUTER EXPLORERS (CE). As I worked hard exploring the world of social media I became more and more intrigued. Building an on-line community awareness for CE became exciting and an educational experience for myself.  It wasn’t long until I was asked to share my experiences with other franchise leaders at conferences and speaking engagements.

Meet the Geek

BJ Emerson

BJ Emerson was one of my social technology connections. I was invited to be a speaker at the 2010 IFA (International Franchise Association) annual convention. BJ was also attending as a speaker. This was exciting since we had never met IRL (in real life)!

After spending time with BJ I knew he would be someone to expand my knowledge in the social technology world.  I felt there was something I was missing in my use of social media. I asked BJ if he’d like to take a risk and join me in starting a Blog Talk Radio show on social technology. He thought it would be a lot of fun and came up with the clever name of Social Geek Radio. It was his idea to use the last 15 minutes of each show to “Geek It Out.” A segment sharing social technology sites that would be new to our audience. They were always new to me since he never shared with me prior to the show!

Our goals were simple:

  • Provide an educational show for business owners on the best practices of utilizing social technology
  • Empower others who love technology to connect with others
  • To make the cyberspace easier to manage and be heard over all the noise
  • To entertain and have fun doing so

We had a great time in 2010 but starting in the new year of 2011 BJ’s speaking and travel commitments were going to interfere with his availability on Thursdays for the show. Check out his calendar of events here.

I needed a new Geek!

I was connected to AK Stout, Saying It Social and I was very impressed with her social tech skills. Her Twitter profile says, “all you need to know about Online Marketing, SEO, Social Networking, & Social Media Marketing for Franchisees, & Small Businesses.” As a guest on Social Geek Radio she wowed our listeners.

I took a chance and called AK to invite her to be my new co-host. She accepted and has been a great geek! She easily picked up the Geek It Out part of the show and amazes me weekly. Recently she shared a list of some of the best sites that she has shared on the show: GeekItOut: Cool Websites & Tools

Year Two and Beyond

There have been challenges using Blog Talk Radio and it’s a commitment of time to do the show weekly. I don’t know how long this gig will continue but for now I’m having a great time. We have some interesting guests lined up for the next few months and there is still so much to learn and share! I hope you will join us as we continue this adventure.

Happy Anniversary Social Geek Radio and thank you BJ and AK for allowing me to get in touch with my inner geek.

QR Code Frenzy

IFA QR Bar Code

You never know what “aha moment” for one will become an avalanche of aha moments.  During one of the COMPUTER EXPLORERS conference presentations  QR codes were mentioned. Very innocently one franchisee raised their hand and openly admitted they did not know what a QR (Quick Response) code was. That’s one of the things I love about the COMPUTER EXPLORERS franchisees. They are not afraid to ask a question.  This time there were several franchisees that were unfamiliar with QR codes. As a group they were very interested in how they could apply QR bar codes to their business.

We took a minute away from the scheduled presentation and I explained that Graphic Management designed stickers linking to the  IFA (International Franchise Association) Website which I distributed as part of my recent presentation at the annual convention.

We also discussed how QR codes can be coded with  contact information. The 2D bar code can be scanned by a smartphone and the contact information then can be saved directly into the phone!

With a few key strokes and less than 5 minutes I created by own  QR code by using the open source –   ZXing Link here

QR Code with Deb Evans contact information

How to generate a QR code was not part of the conference agenda. That did not stop the franchisees from networking and learning together.  During breaks and in the evening I would find franchisees huddled together with their smartphones designing their own QR codes and discussing ways to implement.

Sometimes the best sessions are those that are not planned and actually cause a frenzy of learning.

What’s An UNConference?

COMPUTER EXPLORERS UN-Conference

This year we (COMPUTER EXPLORERS corporate team) decided to be very UNconventional in our conference planning. Our system consists of creative, brilliant and successful franchisees. We know that listening, engaging and connecting IRL (in real life) is a once in a year opportunity to learn in a peer-to-peer atmosphere. Top producers are always willing to share their successful business practices and newer franchisees share fresh ideas.

With all of this in mind, we organized a conference where the franchisees will moderate sessions that involve a hands-on, tell your story, share your challenges, brag about the successes and empower each other to charge forward attitude. Participation will be expected. No one will take a back seat as an observer. It  will be a large networking, brainstorming, strategic planning weekend. Certainly, UNlike any of the 26 previous annual conferences.

The 2011 Franchise Business Economic Outlook report indicates that franchise businesses are poised for stronger growth in 2011.  We know that the same old same old isn’t working today. In order to grow we need to look at our current strategies and UNdo old habits.  Now more than ever we need to UNcover new strategies. As a system we need to be UNrelenting in setting ourselves apart from the competition. As a team we will define “the new normal” and leave conference ready to thrive instead of merely surviving. We will discuss what’s working, what’s broke and what needs to be thrown away.

We gave up the expensive entertainment, high cost speakers and extravagant door prizes to cut our costs and pass the savings on to the franchisees. By charging the bare minimum for registration, the franchisees are in a better position financially to attend. When we say there will be no “rah rah” we mean fluffy speeches or UNrealistic expectations for the future.  There will be plenty of rah in our celebrating but a lot of hard work in a short amount of time.

We will go high-tech for little cost. Our keynote speakers will present virtually from Australia! We will use Web conferencing and Video Skype to open the conference. Our business partners are joining us over the weekend as we discuss social media, marketing messages and PR strategies. Franchisees will lead discussions on implementing new programs, how using the tools available affect their bottom line and what accountable action steps are needed to build a positive culture and profitable franchise system.

2010 was a tough year in franchising. When talking with other franchise leaders at IFA I learned that COMPUTER EXPLORERS is not alone. I heard other leaders declare that survival mode is so last year. 2011 is a year of potential and growth. I agree!  It’s especially exciting  knowing that in less than 8 days the corporate team will be strategically planning and charting a new course for COMPUTER EXPLORERS – side by side with the franchisees!

My goal for our UNConference is to be an UNbelieveably successful start to establish our “new normal.”

Last week I wrote my monthly letter to the COMPUTER EXPLORERS franchisees. I shared my beliefs about participating in conferences to learn from peers, attend educational sessions and grow personally as a leader.   The connections I make at conventions like IFA (International Franchise Association) or ISTE (International Society for Technology Education) allow me to network with my peers, connect and learn from other leaders in the industry and in turn help implement new strategies that will increase our bottom line and grow the system as a whole! I can share my successes and challenges and always return home with new ideas and a renewed enthusiasm.

The sessions I  moderated and presented mostly dealt with social media. It  is a well known fact that social media is not a fad. It’s not going away any time soon. Applications that are strongly used today may be replaced with another one tomorrow. The key to success is to be aware of the social media platforms, how to implement into your brand/organization and be ready for the next one to arrive. The Technology Summit and sessions related to social technology were standing room only events.

The round-table discussions I participated in dealt with lead generation, growing your system in tough economic times, local marketing strategies, etc. I used my iPad to take notes and have distributed to the group. They are adding their comments and we have now established a new network group.

There are several great blog posts and articles about the convention. Here are few you can link to and learn more about what you may have missed.

Brooke Howell, Editor of SmartBrief wrote this blog post: Live from #IFA: How franchises can put social media to work. Brooke covers the presentation by Ford Saeks, president of Prime Concepts Group, who spoke during the Technology Summit: Social Media — Ignore it at Your Own Peril.”

Thomas Scott, CEO Brand Journalists shared this post “Top 10 Marketing Take Aways from the IFA Convention.” He shares his thoughts on how to use social media for lead generation, business blogs and PR efforts.

My takeaway from IFA is the use of or lack of knowledge about  QR codes. A QR or Quick Response code is  a two dimensional bar code that contains information that can be scanned and saved. The code may link to a Website or contain contact information that can be saved quickly to a smartphone.  Below I listed a few ways that QR codes can be used in business.

QR code scarf

QR code scarf: Attending a convention with 2800 others using identical bags needed a little personalization. I had a QR code scarf created that I used in the winter. I used it with the tag line “scan me” so those I met for the first time could scan my code and save my information. The IFA convention was held in Las Vegas and there was no need for a winter scarf to wear but tied around my bag it distinguished my bag from other attendees. My contact information was at my fingertips. I had a great time sharing what I knew about codes and showing attendees how to download a scanner and then how to scan my customized code.

IFA QR sticker

QR code stickers: I had stickers customized to link directly to the IFA Website The stickers were distributed and placed on the back of name tags, program brochures and notepads. The use of smartphones this year compared to last year was exponential. It was great to see franchise industry leaders using their smartphones and connecting to social networks but many were unaware of QR codes and what to do with one. A quick 3 minute demonstration was all that was needed and it was great to witness “aha moments.”

Business card with QR code

Business card displaying QR code: Michael Wright, Business Development Director of People To My Site and his team had impressive business cards. Not only did they have a code on their cards containing their contact information, it displays an icon of a smartphone next to the code! I can imagine that anyone who receives their card will quickly understand what the QR code represents. Brilliant!

When I attend a conference or convention I am always prepared to share and ready to learn! What did you share and what takeaways did you return home with?

Note: QR code scarf and stickers were developed by IFA Supplier Graphic Management.

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