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3 Takeaways from IFA 2022 and Shaquille O’Neal

Gabriella Ferrara

What an incredible week we had in San Diego being with 3,200+ franchise professionals at the 2022 International Franchise Association Annual Conference. It was great to reconnect with old faces and meet several new ones, especially after not being able to be in person in 2021!

There were several incredible speakers, including Shaquille O’Neal, an NBA Hall of Famer and one of the all-time basketball greats. Not only is Shaq a world-renowned athlete, but he is also both a franchisee and franchisor across multiple brands and concepts, including Five Guys, 24 Hour Fitness, and his latest venture, Big Chicken. His experience, authenticity, and humility came across through all the nuggets of knowledge he shared with the attendees.

Here are my top 3 takeaways from Shaq’s IFA keynote talk:

Lesson #1: "Franchising is a team effort, surround yourself with people smarter than you.”

It is important to recognize that you are not going to be an expert in everything you do, whether you are a franchisor, franchisee, or supplier. To succeed in franchising, draft a team that offers different strengths and perspectives than you.

Be sure to hire employees who have diverse skills and can complement your own abilities. When adding to your headcount isn’t enough or feasible, hire vendor partners that you trust to act as an extension of your brand and team. This not only allows you to tap into the knowledge and experience of their entire organization but also provides you with the flexibility and ability to amplify your efforts.

Lession #2: “Learn from criticism.”

Listening to your employees, customers, and prospects is critical to improving your customer experience. Review channels have made it much easier to receive real-time feedback. Franchisors and franchisees should be looking at every customer review, both positive and negative, and responding to them.

This feedback is important to enhance your existing processes, products, and services. While the number of review and reputation channels has increased dramatically over the years, there now exist platforms that can consolidate them all in one dashboard. In addition to tracking progress, having your review management in one place makes it easier to act on both positive and negative criticism.

Lesson #3: “You need to have fun in everything you do.”

If the past 2 years have taught us anything, it is that life is more than just revenue and profits. It is important to make sure you care about and are enjoying what your franchise sets out to do.

Be passionate about your brand and ensure your brand story brings a narrative that customers can resonate with beyond a one-time transaction. Consumers who identify with not just a product or service, but a brand, tend to become lifelong customers and advocates.