We have just got back from our trip to the USA that included going to our headquarters in Atlanta for the USA franchisees, but the main purpose of the trip was going to the International Franchise Association’s Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida.

What a great convention!

We had a few of us attend.  Myself and Anne, plus Michael who is on our board, Tracey, one of our business coaches and then also Norm, Multi-unit franchisee and also the Chairman of our Franchisee Advisory Group.

With multiple people attending it means we can divide and conquer.  We sit down with the schedule and go to different sessions (as they run up to 8 concurrent sessions at one time) so that we can maximise the learning and cover lots of aspects of the conference.

Michael and I attended a lot of Franchisor sessions on international franchising to hear the best practises around the world.  I also did a lot of networking and had meetings to attend as I’m also the Chairman of the Australian Franchise Council’s Board.

Tracey focussed on marketing and as always, came away with pages of notes, ideas and things for us to implement.  Learning machine!

Norm really enjoyed all of his sessions.  Lots on franchisee relations and a few session specifically for franchisees.  He got lots (as we all did) from the main sessions with the big keynote speakers.  Simon Sinek in particular was a huge highlight.

As always, we not only learnt a lot, we also got a tone of validation on what we are already doing.

It amazes me every year (and this was my 7th year of attending) about how much we are doing well already and in a lot of cases, we are advanced.  Maybe it is the size of the USA, but I always assume that these franchise groups in the USA that have hundreds, if not thousands of franchisees, with what to me seems like unlimited resources (money and people) and are supposed to be one of the leading nations in the world, I always assume that we will go and be like the “little guys” that are still doing things so basic in comparison.  But every year I go, I discover that we are not this at all, in fact, we are often teaching and showing them the way.

Tracey said that she was amazed at how far advanced we are on our social media strategies.  Now gutter cleaning is not really sexy right and we could have ignored social media totally, but quite a few years back now, I invested heavily in social media and using it for our business and helping the franchisees with it as well.  I still think we have work to do in this area, but I have to say I was blown away when Tracey told me about what she heard, in particular on round table discussions, on how far advanced we are as a franchise group in the area of social media… and that is with us with still a list of things we want to do and improve!  Kind of humbling really.

So once again, we turned up to learn on the world stage and we have come away with some great learnings, but more importantly, some items that we are going to implement into the Gutter-Vac business to benefit the franchisees and to grow the brand.

Was so exciting to be able to take Norm for the week to represent the franchisees and we can’t wait to see how this will impact – for the better – all of the franchisees and the Franchisee Advisory Group.

Next year, it is back to Vegas and I’m sure another round of great learnings.