Highlights from the 2017 CFA National Convention

Highlights from the 2017 CFA National Convention

The 26th annual CFA National Convention kicked off in Niagara Falls on April 2, welcoming delegates, franchise experts, and new and established franchisors for three days of engaging keynote presentations, networking events, and celebrations.

Convention began on Sunday with four Power Sessions covering a range of franchising topics, from how to build a hyper-growth brand to tips on becoming an effective leader. A special Supplier Forum was also facilitated by TruShield Insurance’s Tony O’Brien and Insurance Portfolio’s Jennifer Tyrwhitt-Gory, where they discussed how franchise suppliers and support services providers could maximize CFA membership to build a profile in the franchise industry.

New Member Meet & Greet Cocktail Reception

It was a full house later in the afternoon for the first networking opportunity of Convention. New and established CFA members mingled and enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres during the New Member Meet & Greet Cocktail Reception right before a special Keynote Presentation from Catherine Monson, CEO, FASTSIGNS.

Catherine Monson discusses FASTSIGNS success

Monson gave a riveting speech about what it means to be a transformational leader, pulling from her own experiences when she joined the signage company in 2009. After posing for a selfie with the audience, Monson detailed how she led FASTSIGNS employees to success in the aftermath of the worst recession in US history, and repositioned the company’s culture and brand.

The evening ended with the opening of The Marketplace, where exhibitors showcased their franchise-related products and services. The Marketplace remained open throughout Convention, so attendees could spend their downtime exploring all of the innovative franchise solutions on display.

Engagement expert Dave Meslin started Day 2 with a Keynote Presentation, where he discussed how easy it is to implement a culture of engagement within our communities. Meslin captivated the audience by discussing his own engagement endeavors and outlining the creative ways he motivates people to become citizen activists.


Dave Meslin talks about creating a culture of engagement

Following Meslin’s presentation, a panel of CFA representatives and franchise law experts discussed the threat of joint-employer status to the Canadian franchise industry, and offered tips on how franchisors and franchisees could get involved in CFA’s advocacy efforts.

The remainder of the day was filled with informative Concurrent Sessions, Roundtable Discussions and a special Closed-Door CEO Session hosted by Catherine Monson. Delegates spent the afternoon sharing their franchise challenges and discovering solutions through discussions with their peers and experts in the field.

Delegates participating in Roundtable Discussions

The jam-packed day was rewarded with drinks during the Gala Awards Cocktail Reception right before the special Gala Awards Presentation Dinner. CFA members were dressed to the nines for the biggest franchise celebration of the year, and many struck a pose in front of the CFA Photo Wall throughout the evening.

Co-hosted by Ryan Smolkin of Smoke’s Poutinerie, and Clark Harrop of McDonald’s Canada, the night was filled with laughs, slick dance moves and the reveal of Smoke’s long lost brother, Ronald McDonald.

Emcees Ryan Smolkin and Clark Harrop bring the laughs at the Awards Gala

Franchise excellence was recognized throughout the night with the presentation of the 2017 Franchisees’ Choice Designation, Recognition Awards and Awards of Excellence in Franchising.

From left to right: CARA Operations, Dairy Queen Canada, Michael Sherrard, Sherrard Kuzz LLP,  Ash Vasdani, McDonalds Canada

First up was the Hall of Fame Award, which was awarded to CARA Operations for their long history of outstanding leadership within the franchise industry. Dairy Queen Canada took home the Outstanding Corporate Citizen Award for their work raising funds and awareness for the Children’s Miracle Network, while Michael Sherrard was presented the Volunteer Leadership Excellence Award for his involvement in CFA advocacy.

Finally, the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to George A. Cohon for his extensive franchising career as the Founder of McDonald’s Canada. McDonald’s franchisee and former CFA Chair Ash Vasdani accepted the award on Cohon’s behalf.

From left to right: Scholars Education Centre, Symposium Cafe, Triple O’s, A&W Canada

From left to right: Par-T-Perfect Party Planners, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Canada, Alair Homes

Next up, Par-T-Perfect Party Planners, Scholars Education Centre, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Canada, Symposium Café, Alair Homes, Triple O’s, and A&W Food Services of Canada took home Gold Awards of Excellence in Franchising in their respective categories, putting them in the running for one of two highly coveted Grand Prizes.

To present the Grand Prizes, CFA’s President and CEO Lorraine McLachlan took to the stage with a surprise serenade from the emcees. Symposium Cafe won the Grand Prize for Traditional Franchise System and Par-T-Perfect Party Planners won for Non-Traditional Franchise System. The evening capped off with cake and sparklers in celebration of CFA’s 50th anniversary.

But the celebration wasn’t finished yet! Delegates danced into the early morning at the After-Party held at the Hard Rock Cafe.

The After-Party at the Hard Rock Cafe

Day 3 of Convention began bright and early with the Annual General Meeting, where CFA welcomed new members to its Board of Directors. This was followed by another set of Roundtable Discussions, Concurrent Sessions, and a final Closed-Door CEO Session hosted by Lorraine McLachlan and John Wissent.

The day ended with the final Keynote Presentation from Mitch Joel, President of Mirum. The “Rock Star of Digital Marketing” detailed the changing face of businesses in the digital age and showcased companies that are creating innovative products and services to keep up with today’s technological advancements.

Mitch Joel details how businesses are adapting in the digital age

After Joel’s presentation, there was a closing luncheon and a Prize Draw, where one lucky winner won a free registration to next year’s Convention in Ottawa!

A special thank you to all attendees, presenters, exhibitors, and sponsors for making this Convention our best yet and helping CFA celebrate its 50th Anniversary. We’ll see you next year in Ottawa!