Why Knowledge is Priceless - IFA Convention 2019

Poolwerx CEO and Founder John O’Brien has been attending the International Franchising Association (IFA) Convention in the USA for over two decades. Here he talks to Inside Franchise Business about the importance of making contacts and networking at Franchising’s biggest event.

Why attend the IFA?

I first attended the International Franchising Convention in the USA in 1996 when there were four Australians among the thousands there. This year there were 50 of us, which represents small growth over the years. Given the presence of over 1000 franchise systems in Australia, I find this odd.

Which begs the question, it is worthwhile? It’s a huge financial investment, let’s call it $5,000-10,000 per person, depending on how you choose to do it and then there are the time and distraction.

Attend IFA with an open mind

I attribute a great measure of Poolwerx’ success to the tips I have picked up at IFA Conventions. Every year, I attend with my mind and ears wide open. You never know what gems might drop from the sky, and time and again they have.

Attend IFA to share what works

The remarkable thing about the IFA event is that you have all these systems sharing information surprisingly willingly. I suppose this is because franchising is a way of doing business rather than about the competitive mechanics or trade secrets of any particular retail/service operation.

Fred from The Burger Shed is not going to reveal his secret herbs and spices but will happily share what makes his franchise community work. It’s a lot less about what you actually do than the way you systemise it.

IFA 2019

(From left to right): Poolwerx CEO and Founder John O’Brien & wife Helen Moroney, Chief Marketing Officer Rebecca Barnes and Franchise Operations Manager Stephen Halls 

Attend IFA to spot trends

The scale is huge. In Australia, our systems might have 20 or 50 or even 100-or-more franchise partners but some of these folks in the US have thousands. If there’s a trend, problem or opportunity, it’s a fair bet they have come across it and they’re happy to share their experiences.

The IFA Convention is a great example of a sector creating standards and selflessly sharing experiences so that all of us can become strong links in the chain. It’s in our mutual interest (and in the interests of the thousands of small business people who depend upon us).

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