The 2015 Annual Franchise Conference at the Ritz Carlton Beach Resort in Naples, Florida was a resounding success! We had another record year in terms of participation, with 114 franchisees in attendance, representing 72 academies across the country. We were also excited to host 33 companies at our Vendor Expo, where each featured specific products and services that can be used at your academies. Thank you to all who attended and we most certainly missed those of you who were unable to attend. Here are some of the highlights.
On Thursday evening, we kicked off the conference with a fun evening of networking and relationship building, with franchisees, directors and their families mingling together with our corporate team and valued vendors. Cocktails, soft drinks and delicious edibles were abundantly provided at this pool-side event.
Friday morning, after an industry update by Mike Miller and a business overview by Greg Helwig, keynote speaker Gerry O’Brion, spoke about how to use your “Because” to attract new customers. Following this dynamic presentation, the day was filled with opportunities to learn and share. Breakout sessions introduced the new Ready, Set, Go curriculum for 4 year olds, while another session focused on how to utilize Online Marketing Tools and Strategies to Enhance Your Online Presence. Later in the afternoon attendees took part Q&A sessions with franchisee and director experts. Franchisees Trish Buchinski from Horsham, PA, Ted Cockram from Longwood-Lake Mary, FL, Carol Haynes from Reynoldsburg, OH, and David Willis form Charlotte-Blakeney, NC, shared insights and ideas on everything from using technology in the academy to how to recruit and retain staff. Directors Angie Bowers from Cupertino, CA, Olga Dinos from Bolingbrook, IL, Deven Lilburn from Florham Park, NJ, and Karin Zalzal from Windham, NH, shared experiences with time management, demonstrating evidence of learning, and ideas on preparing for accreditation. The day wrapped up with a networking reception, with lots of opportunity to share ideas gathered throughout the day.
Saturday featured a session with the Kiddie Academy Curriculum Advisory Board, comprised of Dr. Mary Rivkin, Dr. Beth Rogowsky, and Dr. Ocie Watson-Thompson. Plus there was an afternoon keynote by author and well know early childhood education specialist Judy Jablon. The day included a packed round table session with 12 different topics and two breakout sessions addressing new features of AcademyLink®, and Rethinking Retention and Recruitment.
We also celebrated many awards for members of our community. Please join us in congratulating Beth and David Holmes, from the Kiddie Academy of Glendora and Murrieta on being named the Franchisee of the Year. Please visit the News section of KARES, where you will find an electronic copy of the Awards Program, which highlights all of the nominees and award winners. We have so many exciting achievements to celebrate.
The conference team is already hard at work planning our conference for next year, which will be held June 9 through June 12, 2016 at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia in Scottsdale, Arizona. Please mark your calendars, as we truly hope to see you there.
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