2014 International Franchise Association Convention: A Review

Just as Mardi Gras was ramping up in New Orleans, thousands of people connected to the franchising industry gathered for the 54th Annual International Franchise Association (IFA) Convention, held February 22-25, 2014.

In the words of one veteran attendee of IFA conventions, “The IFA has become the leader in all things franchising. It’s the nucleus that pulls the multitude of players in this industry together. The IFA moves franchising forward, they educate, they influence Congress…they do it all.”

The convention in the Big Easy emphatically reinforced IFA’s position as a franchising industry colossus. Guest speakers included former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director, Leon Panetta, and Managing Director of Global Channel Sales for Google, Todd Rowe. There were hundreds of presentations to choose from, on topics ranging from franchise marketing and brand-building to negotiating real estate deals, and from navigating the Affordable Health Care Act to franchisee support. Classes were held for credit toward IFA’s franchising “degree” – the Certified Franchise Executive offering.

International Franchise Association AttendeesSaid the veteran attendee, “Whether you’re just starting out in franchising, or if you’ve got four franchise units or 4,000, this convention has something for you. And even though the event is gigantic, it still has the feel of a small, intimate gathering. People are generous, forthcoming with their time and their knowledge. It might seem hard to believe, but franchising is a tight-knit group despite the sheer number of people, and that gives a family feel to the conventions.”

Menchie's Frozen Yogurt & Firehouse SubsBut it’s not all work and no play for this big family – the IFA likes to party. There was A Taste of Franchising at the convention, where the franchises in the food industry served attendees samples of every kind of food and drink imaginable. The Fran Jam, an evening party sponsored by a number of companies closely involved in the industry, featured live music and top-of-the-line dining.

“If you are in franchising in any capacity – as a franchisee, franchisor, consultant, or vendor – you’re either at the IFA convention every year, or you’re wishing you could get there,” our attendee said. “The 2014 event was huge, not just in size, but in terms of the boost the industry gets from getting together like this.”

IFA’s 2015 convention comes to Las Vegas February 15-19. Don’t miss it!

(Photo Credit: Convention.Franchise.org)