2015 Multi-Unit Franchising Conference: Shaping the Future - Together
2015 Multi-Unit Franchising Conference: Shaping the Future - Together

Multi-Unit Franchising Conference Chairman Robert Branca, Jr. talked with 1851 about what 2015’s conference has in store for attendees.

Change is a constant in life, and nowhere is that more true than in the multi-unit franchising industry.

“Franchising has changed a lot,” said Robert Branca, Jr., who can add Multi-Unit Franchising Conference chairman to a long list of official titles, including chair of the Dunkin’ Donuts Franchise Owners PAC and vice chair of the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition of Franchisee Associations. “The industry has evolved in several ways. Old ways of doing things … really don’t apply anymore.”

With that in mind, it’s only fitting that the theme of this year’s Multi-Unit Franchising Conference is “shaping the future.”

One look at recent headlines should be enough to determine why industry professionals are doing all they can to prepare for what's to come. As Branca spotlighted, today’s regulatory environment is leaning toward the eradication of the distinction between franchsors and franchisees, a development that would drastically change the state of the industry.

According to Branca, the best thing industry professionals can do – both franchisors and franchisees – is collaborate, a pursuit the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference is ideal for.

“We have so much in common, but it’s only events like these that allow us to meet each other and get to know each other,” Branca said.

There’s no denying that regulations are proliferating at a high rate, from labor issues and ingredients used in food products to everything in between. Now is the time for businesspeople in the multi-unit franchising sphere to come together, share their stories, learn from one another and do their best to educate industry outsiders.

“[The truth is] more complex than a sound bite,” Branca said. “It takes effort and time to explain the actual facts to people.”

One way for franchisors and franchisees to rise above today’s challenges is by getting more involved, whether through forming political action committees or joining trade groups. It’s also important for professionals to be aware of what the future holds, something this year’s Multi-Unit Franchising Conference is focused on.

In fact, organizers have gone so far as to invite futurist and author Dr. Peter Diamandis to give a keynote address regarding the current state of the economy, the way modern society is progressing and how this rapid change may affect those in the franchising world.

In addition to urging attendees to check out Dr. Diamandis’ address, Branca is also excited about this year’s “Meet the Speakers” events. Each year sees huge lines of people attempting to speak with panel members and moderators after sessions. Unfortunately, there simply isn’t enough time in the day for everyone to get to introduce themselves or ask a question. The Meet the Speakers Roundtables are designed to give conference attendees a better chance of trading words with event luminaries.

Branca also had plenty of advice for individuals attending the conference for the very first time.

“Have a plan, read the agenda, figure out which events you would want to attend … make sure you show up at any networking opportunity,” he said. “There are people with so much knowledge, make it your business to meet them and introduce yourself. Bring plenty of business cards - know what you want to say and what you want to ask.”

Whether they’re first-timers or seasoned veterans, this year’s attendees will surely be wondering what the future holds for the multi-unit franchising industry. If Branca has his way, the need for greater collaboration will be the most important takeaway from this year’s conference.

“The nature of multi-unit franchising is much different even than it was just 10 years ago,” Branca said. “Franchisors are recognizing that. Franchisees are working in a much more collaborative way with franchisors. The multi-unit segment is seen as more of a partnership than it has been. This conference will be about exploring that.”