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Dave Masterson's thoughts on technology happenings, personal experiences, travels, work, fun, etc.

Entries in World expo (4)

Tuesday
Jun102014

World Expo 2014 - The Insider's View.

Orlando, FL - "I cannot believe every single franchisee doesn't come to this event." ~ Mark, Appleton, WI.  

Me neither! If you could surround yourself with the best advice possible for your business, custom delivered to you, I say do it. Get to World Expo.

This year's return to the familiar Orlando World Center Marriott made planning the event a bit easier. We knew the convention space, where we could hold our sessions and how to decorate the rooms and manage the signage. The General Session Opening was very well done, Ray and franchisees from our different brands laying down the theme of "Entrepreneur Experience." Involving franchisees to be the "meat" or main content of the Expo was key. It's not about us reiterating what was taught in training class. We have so many really qualified people in their own businesses, who better to tell the story?

Our Wednesday evening opening reception was moved late in the day because of lightning on the pool. We knew by 7pm there would be no significant weather in the area, but with setup time 2-3 hours before, the lightning warning system from the golf course was firing off. This meant that no Marriott personnel could be working outside helping prepare for the reception. A quick decision to hold it in the Cypress Ballroom was made. That worked, but it wasn't as impactful as the outdoor venue would have been. It's great to reconnect with everyone at the first gathering for Expo!

With Maggie HarlowMaggie Harlow opened the Expo. Yes, the first person anyone saw on stage was our very personanble, successful, dual-brand franchisee from Louisville, KY., how awesome! She told her story in an abbreviated fashion, then introduced Ray. He stepped through some topics that were informative for all franchise brands. He reveiwed our company's Mission Statement and core beliefs. Next, as I previously mentioned, Ray used franchisees from several brands and countries to bring the attendees in tune with our theme. It was a great start to Day #1.

Our six unique business brands were then sent in several directions. The retail brands went to the Supplier Trade Show. The non-retail brands began their general content sessions, each in a different room. The schedule was packed - guest speakers, franchisee-led sessions, panel discussions, we had it all going.

For the trade show attendees, there were many new products, ideas, opportunities for training and networking. One franchisee I spoke with said it was the best trade show he has attended at our Expo, and he's been to all of our shows since 2005. The floor was packed with all exhibitor space sold. New additions were exhibitors for SuperGreen Solutions, Transworld Business Advisors and Experimac. Signarama and EmbroidMe Marketing Funds were both well represented in a spot on the floor that was crowded for two straight days! Lunch was served for all in the Exhibit Hall, so it was a popular place to be for Days #1 & #2.


Matt Fitzpatrick, myself, Lisa Royer, Leslie LaLandeOur Supplier Appreciation cocktail event followed, this was well-attended and everyone spent more time mingling and connecting to the sponsors and suppliers. I was part of the Mentor Chairperson Dinner later that evening, a nice meal and chance to meet in a quiet place with some of the franchisees that donate their time to help others.

Friday night we had our "social side" showing - the Pajama Dance Party! Bring together our crowd under a dress-up theme and we guarantee a memorable event. Most people had some sort of sleepwear or a strange interpretation of goofy pajamas. The DJ, a pro from Downtown Disney, really kept things on track as most of the evening was spent dancing and singing to familiar modern and classic tunes. Confession, I never got to try the ice cream bar with all the toppings. Too many people were lit up happy and partying beneath the flashing lights. Attendees were playing with inflatable instruments, lip syncing or "silhouette dancing" backstage for all to see. It was a neat and well appreciated event!

Saturday's schedule started with Jim Tatem interacting with a few more franchisees. Hearing about the growth and "How I made my business fly" stories is always inspiring. SuperGreen Solutions and BillboardConnection were well represented.


Shep Hyken - Guest SpeakerShep Hyken came on stage next, bringing his uber-positive message of Amaze Every Customer Every Time. Great stories mixed with some well-placed slight of hand tricks kept our audience laughing and engaged. Judging by the amount of follow-up business cards our audience brought to the stage at the conclusion of his presentation, it was a big hit!

Saturday's schedule continued with more "franchisee-first" content. Owner Panels, Roundtable Discussions, all with specific actionable content that franchisees could take home and begin using Monday morning! The event rolls well on Day #3, everyone has high expectations of what should be happening and World Expo delivers.

The final event at all World Expos is our Awards celebration. A great meal, nicely dressed business professionals and recognition across the board reads our script. Scott Mast was so on top of his role as emcee to start the evening, everyone knew it would be a memorable night. Some last minute changes to awards, slides and speaker notes out of sync and that made for some interesting developments. Pretty soon the stage was shared by Ray and Scott, bantering back and forth with the audience, not knowing if this was real or an "act." For the record, that whole exchange was live and unrehearsed! 

Franchisees from all brands and all four corners were included in the evening's awards presentation. We recognized new Million Dollar Club members, our top Mentors and Rookies, gave high achievement accolades and more. Finally, Ray ushered forth new inductees into the Hall of Fame. Several for both Signarama and EmbroidMe, plus BillboardConnection's first-ever member, Neil Spencer. It was a wonderful finish to our conference, sending all of our franchisees home on a high note.

The World Expo brings our UFG team together in a unique way. Each year we have new corporate employees that attend and work at their first World Expo. For them, seeing franchisees that are so successful and hungry to learn is important. The seasoned, well-trained experts that make the event tick year after year are so good at what they do - having developed such a passion for their roles at our event. Too many names to list, suffice it to say that we have team members that come ready to work amazingly hard and deliver a phenomenal show to our customers each year. They are the heart of World Expo. I have plenty of thanks and admiration for the UFG Expo Committee and team that makes Expo possible. 

General SessionThis is what we do. We plan, create, organize and deliver World Expo to bring more success to our franchisees and our group. We have so much evidence that the franchisees that will cut three and a half days out of their yearlong schedule to be a part of Expo will perform better as a result. More ideas, suppliers, motivation, education and camaraderie flow openly for these business owners. It's there for everyone. It is an investment in time and capital. I urge all that did not attend to speak to franchisees that did. Let them show you why it works. And plan on joining hundreds of your peers next June in Las Vegas for World Expo 2015. Caesars Palace is our stage - you will definetely return enriched!          -dm


Monday
Apr232012

It's about our people.

For our franchisees, concern and focus should be on how they can better serve their clients. Once a year we hold a special conference to address this - improvement across the horizon of activities that touch the end user. We delve into how they can offer top grade service and relevant products to answer a question or remedy a need. For us, the concern is our customer, the franchisee. Backing their efforts with training and guidance, new developments and ideas - this is our calling. The past week in Las Vegas saw the best of both shine brightly. It was our franchisees in search of the information and motivation to succeed and our efforts to deliver such.

I had a good feeling about this year's conference, I thought the increased attendance our team had mustered for the event would make a big difference. It would show the suppliers at the trade show that United Franchise Group franchisees are a powerful arm they can use to market and sell their products. From what I saw and heard regarding our suppliers, this was achieved all day Monday and Tuesday. The increased participation in events we hold solidifies the belief that you're never to far down the path to learn and grow. Franchisees of all tenure levels came to Rio Hotel and dove into the supplier trade show, breakout sessions, and plenty of side meetings for their respective brands. I met with friends from years ago and newer members of our group fresh from training school. Each of them came with their own separate needs and reasons for attending. But for us, for me, the event was all about being with the people we support. Knowing first-hand what their ideas are, where their struggles lie, and determining how we can assist. The various means we have to communicate with the franchisees cannot replace seeing them in person and engaging over a meal or simply a walk down a very long corridor. (Of which there were many!)  I enjoy being a part of what we have built - a network of successful business professionals, each taking a piece of our formula home to launch their franchise. This was a great week!

For those franchisees that couldn't attend, you are now tasked with paying twice as much attention to the communication channels we offer. There will be follow up information sent out regarding new programs and developments introduced at Expo. Suppliers will make good on show specials, sometimes for a limited time after the show. Commit to bringing yourself and your staff to our next event, it is worth the time you spend away from your business. It is worth the money you invest to put yourself in a different place, physically and figuratively, to look at your operation from the outside. The things we can do to support your business are many. Help that cause by being there to accept our very best advice, new findings, corrective action, and enthusiasm. You know we enjoy putting the World Expo event together - it's done on your behalf. A show so large it rivals industry-wide events in the categories in which our franchisees operate. Be a part of it. Because it's about you.

Thursday
Apr052012

Loving the prep!

Put all this together and make me an Expo, Dave.World Expo time is here - so not a moment is unaccounted for in the office. And now some big chunks of my preparation are happening at home, too. We're baking videos, collecting and making music slices for Awards night, organizing Mentor roundtable meetings, getting set for a few guest appearances for new brands and their panel of experts... it's a vibrant mood. I have a main stage keynote style speech on Wednesday morning, a similar "tech specifics" update for EmbroidMe on Tuesday afternoon, and a nice piece I've found on the Internet to share with our Mentor Group Sunday afternoon to start the show. I'm making props for the opening session of Expo, arranging for a wonderful dinner out with the USA Mentor Chairpersons, which I hope goes as well as the one we did for the Aussie group while in Melbourne. This is really what I know well, getting things organized for the big event. I see event planning as a chess-type exercise. I'm trying to figure out what the attendees will like, what their mood will be, and how to send key points home in their memories. Everyone in our office is somehow involved. Some directly with things like signmaking, scheduling, calling franchisees to boost attendance, working with suppliers for the gi-normous trade show or logistics for our team once we hit Las Vegas. It is for me, the last piece of how we work together teamwise like we used to. I keep saying it to people at work, but only few understand. This effort, this working together, is what was normal with most projects. Now that we've grown, we're big. We have departments. We have layers. We have reports and we have more rules. Bring me back to where we once were, when success was based on all of our abilities combined. We do that now, but it's fragmented by brands and departments, likes and dislikes. I look forward to Expo because the winning formula we employ - direct interaction and teamwork isn't out of style. For our newbies, it's sometimes out of sight. Maybe this Expo will show them more of what I've been saying. It's tough, it's demanding work, but it definitely delivers dividends to franchisees and our company. Could there a better reason to prepare so earnestly?

Monday
Aug232010

Re-entry...

World Expo 2010I've been missing from these parts - concentrating more on Facebook and Twitter posts and updates. I am overdue for commenting on what I see happening and how I feel about events.  We succeeded in throwing the conference we call Expo 2010 Orlando, producing a great show, working with suppliers and adding kinship to an admittedly smaller group than I'm used to seeing.  I feel those that attended the show came back to their businesses with an advantage. They said,"Yes", paid to attend, did flights, hotels, travel, and put themselves in the right spot to grow. The feedback I've received about the event was very positive. You'd expect me to say that, right? I thought that the "best of the best" believed enough of what we had said about the importance of the event to show up and build. The franchisees that are less "in tune" and "in touch" usually don't come to the event - not a surprise. They have a problem being fed more of what they heard at training, which they most likely didn't follow, so our Expo is like salt - sprinkled delicately into the wound. The cash-strapped (which is a taller number than in previous years) couldn't make the decision to spend more. We made phone calls trying to persuade them to come and help find resources and the remedies, but it's easier to not chance it and say, "Next year." I hope they make good on that statement!

I didn't spearhead the Expo this year, which felt peculiar. I knew what was going on, what should be happening, but didn't have the "keys to the building" as in years past. I thought it would be easier, attending, participating, having more time to be involved with our franchisees, all that.  I was correct until about a month before the event - that's when the Expo committee saw potential holes in the itinerary and needed help. The common theme of,"Dave's not running the conference this year, he can do that" rang through their heads. I had so many diverse things to do that all required different skills, what a crush this became as the Expo grew closer.  For example, I was responsible for the Saturday Roundtable Sessions, from getting the best topics to matching franchisees and Corporate staff with their proper tables and scheduling. I was responsible for the technology and A/V equipment that we brought to Orlando - cyber cafe, registration printers, laptops, projectors, computers and things all over the trade show.  Find a guest speaker? How about Dana M. Nelson, that was a bunch of fun for me, but time consuming, too.  Do a General Session technology update, as usual. Emcee the event with Brenda? Yup, got that one, too. I had to be very organized  and aware of what was happening at all times - for fear I'd miss something I was supposed to be doing! 

I'm glad I was a part of Expo 2010, this year from a different vantage point. To those franchisees that attended, I've already heard from so many of you thanking us and saying what a good event it was. I always enjoy the down time with friends from around the world - we do that well, don't we? (You know who you are people!) If you didn't attend, we have plenty of the materials on out new UFGtv site, downloadable through OSCAR, pictures on Flickr, all that. Expo was a whirlwind of planning and executing as always.  I have never missed one, Europe, Australia, USA, all notched off!  It's good to be back, even if in a different role.