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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We All Win with Learn2Swim Poolwerx’ Learn2Swim Week returns nationwide for its eighth year 25 Sep - 3 Oct Tragically, in Australia 25 children under 5 lost their lives prematurely from drowning in Australia in the last year, a 108% increase on last year and a 9% increase on the 10-year average, with 8 of these incidents happening in swimming pools. In New Zealand, three children under the age of four lost their lives last year. This is why Poolwerx and Kids Alive are back again this year with Learn2Swim Week, offering free swimming lessons for children under five from Friday 25 September to Sunday 3 October, in an effort to reduce childhood drownings. Over the course of a week, swim schools across Australian and New Zealand will offer free swimming lessons to children under the age of five as part of the water safety initiative, with registrations still open for swim schools to sign up for the annual event. Despite water safety remaining top of mind for many families, new research from Poolwerx reveals around 15 percent of parents surveyed still know someone who had, or directly encountered, a near-drowning experience – highlighting the importance of teaching little ones basic water skills to make swimming safe and fun for parents and toddlers. Further, over 30 percent of parents whose children participated in Learn2Swim Week in 2020 enrolled their children in ongoing swim classes after the week was over2, highlighting the impact that Learn2Swim Week has on both children and the parents enrolling them. Ex-Olympian swimmer Libby Trickett, alongside former Australian Olympic swim coach and Kids Alive founder Laurie Lawrence, has partnered with Poolwerx to support the initiative, urging all parents to sign up for Learn2Swim Week this year and get their kids enrolled in lessons. Libby Trickett said, “As a mum myself, I’m really proud to be championing Learn2Swim Week for Poolwerx this year. I know just how important it is to develop swimming skills when you’re young, and really capitalise on the opportunities our beautiful climate gives us to enjoy time in the water here in Australia. Former All Blacks centre, now Crusaders and Wellington (NPC) Assistant Coach Tamati Ellison, has also partnered with Poolwerx to support the initiative, urging all parents to sign up for Learn2Swim Week this year and get their kids enrolled in lessons. “I’m really proud to be supporting Learn2Swim Week for Poolwerx this year. Growing up my siblings and I spent a lot of time around the water which helped us develop key swimming skills plus build amazing memories. Learning how to swim and feel confident in the water is important at all ages. For us Kiwis, it allows you to enjoy the New Zealand summer and keep whanau safe in and around the water,” says Tamati. “Tamaiti akoana ki Te kaukau, noho haumaru ki Te wai, Tau Ana. Okea ki a Urorotia ako ki Te kaukau I tenei rā (A person who learns to swim is safer in the water. Give it your best, learn to swim today),” he adds. Poolwerx COO Nic Brill reiterated Poolwerx’ commitment to water safety, encouraging parents to take advantage of these free classes. “Swimming is a way of life for most Kiwis and Aussies, but sadly we’re still seeing backyard drownings. That is why it is crucial to introduce kids to water safety as early as possible. As Australasia’s largest pool servicing brand, we feel that we have both an opportunity and a responsibility to promote safe water practices in our community,” Brill said. “Nearly 2.7 million Australians and 58,000 Kiwis live in a house with a swimming pool, and with people staying at home more over the last eighteen months through COVID, we know this number is rapidly increasing. That makes Learn2Swim Week an even more vital initiative, and one which we are proud to pioneer.” To locate your nearest participating swim school and sign up for a free class, visit Swim schools can still register to participate at   [1]Royal Lifesaving Australia National Drowning Report 2021 [1]2020 Provisional Drowning Report [1]Independent study of 275 responses, carried out by Poolwerx
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