Reflections on the 2013 IFA Convention

March 5, 2013

I just got back from another exhilarating IFA Convention at the MGM Grand, and 90 hours of networking, educational sessions, cocktail receptions and roundtables has me jazzed for an exciting year in the industry.

There was a record attendance this year, and it seems that, after a few years of "running in place," there is a genuine underlying optimism that 2013 will be a better year. That doesn't mean that there isn't some legitimate angst in the industry regarding the new Healthcare Act and additional business taxes. However, I’m confident that the people in the franchise industry will find a solution to these issues and move their businesses forward.

There is concern that Health Care Reform, along with newer taxes, will impact and slow down the growth of multi-unit operators, which could happen in the short term. Once we move further into 2013, however, and all the details shake out, I believe franchise owners will know how to manage these changes and grow from them.

Other key things I experienced at the convention were: 

  • The evaluation and increased use of social media and its correlated risk 
  • Benchmarking franchisee data to help grow unit economics
  • Increased concern about PCI (Payment Card Index) and data privacy risks now being faced by smaller companies. 
  • Increased awareness of franchisor’s errors and omissions insurance and its benefits.

I seemed to have many more hallway conversations with franchisors and attorneys about franchisor’s E&O insurance than in year’s past. Maybe it’s because I’m a franchise risk management and insurance guy, but I do think more franchisors are understanding that there are some unique risks associated with franchising that other industries don’t have and they need to strategically take these into account before they negatively impact their brand.

Overall, I love the convention; it’s my favorite professional event of the year. I’ve been going so long now that I get to see my clients, networking friends, industry experts and IFA staff all in one place…and have a great time while working.

I look forward to seeing everyone next year in New Orleans.