Every year, Learning Express Toys hosts the Learning Express Toys Franchise Convention in a major US city. This year, the entire Learning Express Toys family, including store owners, store managers, home office employees, and vendors, gathered at La Quinta Resort and Spa in Palm Springs, CA.
It was an eventful four days in which store owners placed orders for holiday product, attended workshops and training sessions to improve and grow their businesses, and bonded with peers and old friends. Here’s a look at some of the highlights of the event:
FAC Meeting and 1st Year Training
The Convention began with full-day meetings and presentations for two separate groups of store owners. The Franchise Advisory Committee (FAC), made up of store owner representatives, gathered to discuss platforms, strategies, and systems that will help improve and grow the franchise as a whole. Meanwhile, store owners in their first year of business attended a comprehensive training session covering all areas of the business including PR, marketing, staff training, point of sales, and inventory management. Both meetings consisted of lively discussions and valuable information. Both meetings consisted of lively discussions and valuable information. Upon the completion of these first meetings, both groups caught up with the rest of the Learning Express Toys family at a welcome dinner full of great food and conversation.
The second day kicked off with an opening session which included presentations from the buying, marketing, and support teams as well as the FAC and CEO, Sharon DiMinico. The entire franchise celebrated the 25th anniversary of the home office Art Director, Deb Perry, with a touching slideshow and awards were given to store owners for product discoveries and lifetime achievement. Audra Wilford, whose son Max was diagnosed with cancer, was a special guest speaker; she discussed ways in which Learning Express Toys could join the MaxLove Project in raising money to help kids battling cancer.
Workshops and Roundtables
After lunch, franchisees split off into smaller groups and attended a variety of workshops, group sharing sessions, and roundtable discussions. These sessions covered a wide array of topics such as inventory and financial management, creative merchandising, staff management and hiring, and marketing. Both franchisees and home office employees participated in these discussions, coming together to brainstorm unique ways of enhancing the customer experience.
This busy second day ended with Power Play, a light-hearted and instructive activity. Vendors set up their games, arts and crafts, and activity kits as store owners visited each table in a round-robin fashion learning and experimenting with the products. This was a fun opportunity for vendors to demonstrate how new products function and to show store owners the best ways to present these products to customers.
Vendor Expo and Charity Donations
The last two days of the convention consisted of a vendor expo at which more than 100 vendors were represented. Store owners and managers traveled from booth to booth discovering new product, speaking with vendors, trying out toys, and placing orders in preparation for the 2014 holiday season. At the completion of the expo, toys were collected as vendors dismantled their displays and booths. These toys and games were donated to the local charities of Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, Shelter from the Storm, and Olive Crest.
Banquet and Awards
In celebration of yet another successful convention and business year, franchisees, vendors, and home office staff came together once again for an awards ceremony and banquet. Several store owners and home office employees took turns presenting awards to dear friends and partners as more than 35 individual awards were presented to both vendors and franchisees. Following a delicious dinner, everyone enjoyed a casino themed event packed with table games, prizes, a photo booth, and dancing to an energetic DJ.