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While attending the 2012 International Franchise Association convention in Orlando this week, I could not help but note that the more things change the more they stay the same.
It was about 25 years ago that I attended my first IFA convention in Maui. While enjoying an ocean front room, the agenda was light on content but heavy on relaxation. I would venture to say that the number of workshops held during one day at this year's event exceeded all of the workshops in Maui and the roundtable discussions were far and few between. In those days franchisees were not IFA members and private equity was in its infancy as the country had just entered the leveraged buyout and junk bond era.
At this year's event, I was on assignment for Blue MauMau My objective was to capture the flavor of the convention, renew acquaintances and conduct an interview. There were so many concurrent workshops there that I found myself sampling them in order to observe the number of attendees and the presentations. I must admit, this approach wouldn't qualify me as a keen evaluator of the workshops I had attended. However, I would note that all but one were panel discussions flavored with personal anecdotes. When it came to workshop content, social media was the topic du jour.
I was struck by what I didn't see on the convention agenda.
If this year's agenda is any indication, it appears that more can be done to improve franchisor and franchisee relations. Having served on the IFA Franchise Relations Committee, which published the first Franchise Relations Handbook over 25 years ago and having been a franchise executive and franchisee, I feel qualified to offer my unsolicited suggestions for improving the annual IFA Convention.
Given the importance of the IFA as a vehicle for fostering improved franchisor and franchisee relations, enhancing the content and format at the annual convention would be a positive step in the right direction.