So… What really happened at Women in Franchising 2017?

15 speakers, 121 attendees, hundreds of introductions and a whole lot of thought provoking conversation. Create. Connect. Cultivate was the theme and…

“It did exactly what it said on the tin! An enjoyable and informative event learning from inspirational women in the franchise sector. Understanding from real-life stories how creative, women are in business, and having the opportunity to connect with industry specialists is invaluable.” 
Carole Stubbs, Bluebird Care.

Pip Wilkins QFP, CEO of the Association spoke from the heart in true style about the event’s development since its inception and the need to keep evolving. That’s why, in 2018 Women in Franchising will become ‘Empowering Women in Business’ and what a conversation starter that was! The big question of the session? Do men get invited next year? Well the feedback has been pretty overwhelming with a resounding support for maintaining the authenticity and dynamic of an event which has been born and is a proven success by its very nature. Here’s what Pip had to say this morning;

“In the wake of our successful Women in Franchising yesterday it is was inevitable that the morning after would be full of ideas from the presentations, discussions and questions that arose from the event. I thought, as I drove to the office, what better time to put some thoughts down on paper than now!

“I left with an overwhelming sense of pride of the event we had put together. There was an evident passion from the crowd, not just for their own individual businesses, but for our industry as a whole.

“One thing has been on my mind since we departed Warwickshire, and that is next year and the elephant in the industry question – should this event be widened in the future to include men as well? I’m all for equality and diversity, after all that’s what franchising is about. Diversity will be a big theme we will be carrying throughout 2018 but Women in Franchising is a special event, unlike any other we do, and it’s special because of the make-up of the event and the fact that it is a room full of women.

“The reality is that women’s only forums, where women know they can go and discuss issues in the presence of other women, is still of value to a lot of women. The event enables women to work together to share stories that can then be presented in aggregate or as systemic issues when discussing them with a larger mixed gender group. There are a lot of conversations that need to take place about women as leaders and mentors, which can be passed to future generations. Those conversations need to happen among women. There is no doubt that these then need to continue in a broader mixed gender context, and hopefully champions of women’s equality will help get those topics on broader conference agendas.

“The event was established to respond a need to encourage more women into franchising, and through a PR campaign and an event that would showcase the great success stories we have. Enabling us to broaden the reach to wider media about how franchising can provide an opportunity for women to get into business.

“The aim next year is to make the bfa more relevant to business. And that means making our events more relevant to business too. I’m comfortable about a change in name and brand. It’s the right thing to do. We all want to see more influencers engage with the bfa and see the opportunities that franchising has to offer.

“But the overarching feedback from an open discussion, and in the many emails since only yesterday, is that changing the audience would change the dynamic of the event. We have established something really special and very successful. It is an event that adds value to the people that attend, it motivates and gets together passionate people with a common focus on growing our industry. After all, this is only one day in 365, so while it works and delivers a benefit to those involved I’m content that we have the right format.”

Of course the day wouldn’t be a success without value added content to those attending. The wealth of knowledge residing in one room was impossible to miss; discussions about recruitment best practice, PR opportunities, designing business plans, creating personal development plans. The agenda was packed with opportunities to learn and grow. There were jokes, debates, laughter, tears and even a song but what were some of the key takeaways?

Creating a plan, this could be in business, life, for an individual or a team. How do you know if you have got to where you need to be if you don’t know where you’re going? Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Connect yourself and your business, this may be a mentor, a conversation to understand team motivations or an engagement drive with current and potential customers to add value and build trusted relationships. Connecting with the right tools and expertise will increase the chances of delivering against your plan.

Cultivate, continual investment in yourself and your business, remaining true to your values, continuing the learning journey and evolving to remain agile and relevant to today’s markets.

And finally, we heard from Penny Mallory, an insightful Keynote speech which left us thinking. What does it take to be ‘world class’? A huge amount of determination, passion, drive and most importantly the right mind set and strength to compromise.

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