I just got back from the Multi Unit Franchising Conference 2016 in Las Vegas last week and wow – the guys and girls there are ROCKSTARS! There were 640 multi-unit franchisees there. I met at least 40 multi unit franchisees and listened to panels and talks by another 20. These are the nicest, most generous people you could hope to meet – and they’re all multi-millionaires!
The conference itself was super organized. Every single event ran perfectly on time, even with external moderators and very robust discussions, the sessions ended with plenty of time to make it to the next session. I got A LOT out of these sessions. The most valuable were:
- The keynote with author Jim Collins (my write up on his 13 questions is here)
- The General Session panel on growth with Gary Rovins, Jim Collins, Aziz Hashim, Michael Kulp and Carin Stutz
- Protect your eroding bottom line with Tra Williams, Harsh Ghai, Jeffrey Tews and David Ostrowe
- Infrastructure, Evaluation & Execution with Steve Adams, Jason Johnson, Mike Knobelock and Dave Goebel
- The labor environment and the NLRB with Robert Branca, Mike Watley, Dan Ponder and Dave Endleman
The origin stories were what I found the most inspiring. Business leaders like Tony Lufti, who held the audience spellbound on the last day with his tale.
Tony arrived in the United States in 1976. He was going to school to become a doctor when he got a job on the graveyard shift for Jack in the Box. He had a second job working at 7 Eleven. Two years later Lucy Garcia, the franchisee, asked Tony if he would act as manager for “just one night shift”. A manager came in and showed him a little of what to do, then left him to it and that was the last he ever saw of a manager – he was the manager from then on! Tony credited his team and how they pulled together to support him on that first night. This is how Tony discovered his passion for helping others acheive. In his words, “I knew how to fix things. Put in new systems, change the culture, and you can turn a business around.” Tony took stores from $400k in annual sales to $1m. He taught himself to be the turnaround expert. From these beginnings, Tony has built a company with 5,500 employees, where 192 of the 200 leaders in his organization have been promoted from within.
There’s also stories like the one from John Hotchkiss who started in franchising at 9 years of age in Detroit, Michigan. John’s Dad was a CPA and the whole family moved to San Antonio, Texas in 1984 to go into business with family. That didn’t work out so well but John learned a lot of lessons from that experience. John discovered he loved franchising when he could set up the store and not need to go in, but still hear the registers ringing.
“I get to be home with my family on a Friday night making a lot of money. You can’t do that in a job!” – John Hotchkiss
John added a great tip to his talk: When you’re in a 50/50 partnership you can put in a ‘Shootout Agreement’ where if partner A offers to buy partner B out, partner B can also buy partner A out at the same valuation immediately. This settles disagreements!
Never get to the point where you think you know it all. That’s when you’ll fail. – John Hotchkiss
The calibre of people at this conference was unlike any other conference I’ve attended. I’d recommend anyone in franchising attend and go to every single session – including the golf day! It was fantastic.
Here’s a quick happy snap of my team on the golf course: