Progress, giving and the power of personal marketing took center stage at the Teams of Tomorrow conference on Saturday in West Monroe, Louisiana.
As franchisees from around the United States gathered for the annual event, Founder Kim Thomas pumped up the crowd with positive words on the organization’s advancement since the beginning of the 2015-2016 season.
Thomas announced a significant boost in growth for the number of TOT participants over the last year. Franchisee Angie Spradling took the top spot as growth winner of 2016, increasing her Boulder, Colorado, territory participation by more than 268 percent, Thomas said.
She also named Rachel Hayes as the first triple-TOT franchisee after Hayes recently took over the Rockwall and Allen territories in addition to managing her existing Plano territory.
Thomas’ remarks left promise for Upper TOT, announcing that five franchisees each manage more than 100 current students. She also noted efforts were underway to begin expanding the Upper TOT program with focus on gaining more participants from first grade through fifth grade levels.
Franchisees can expect new gear soon, including new TOT mugs and drawstring backpacks, Thomas said. Franchisees can also expect to see a continuation of the video series “Weekly Preschool Tips.”
“We want to do things that add value to your business,” Thomas said.
Franchise Director Melissa Shackelford revealed a slew of parent portal changes, which will lend a significant boost in efficiency and ease for franchisees using the system.
After hearing the encouraging changes, franchisees were inspired to continue growth by digital marketing and refining their personal brands to increase sales and strengthen client relationships.
Jenna Villa, an independent marketing consultant, urged franchisees to engage in both marketing and sales. Franchisees should have a TOT elevator pitch ready to recite whenever opportunities arise, she said.
“Believe in your product,” Villa said. “If you get excited, [customers] get excited.”
She mentioned that actions like smiling, agreeing and being positive can pose as strong advantages when selling to daycare centers and preschools.
“Most people are willing to listen to what you have to say if they like you,” Villa said.
In addition to polishing one’s in-person presentation, Villa advised franchisees to keep a steady social media presence. When a business’ social media page isn’t properly maintained, people often assume the business is not good, Villa explained.
The audience got a head start by taking pictures of themselves in the crowd and posting the images to their Facebook pages with the hashtag #TOTConference.
Missy Washam, TOT director for Jackson, Mississippi, shared how to train and maintain teachers for a growing franchise. She said some of her teachers have worked with her for 11 years—and that’s not a coincidence.
When new teachers come onboard, she gives them a system to follow, crediting such structure as the element that allows people to accomplish extraordinary feats and encourages them to become company veterans.
She also emphasized training teachers on how to carry themselves in the classroom.
“If you have someone who is full of energy and full of love, you’re going to have success,” she said.
Washam said when a director empowers teachers and treats them well, they will develop greater loyalty for the company and perform well, which benefits business overall.
She said she makes an effort to appreciate her teachers by hosting pajama and pedicure parties, ensuring they receive lunches at TOT events and sending texts to make them feel special during the week.
“Treat your teachers like they make a difference, and they will,” Washam said.
Franchisees heard encouragement from fellow TOT directors during seminars, including a talk from Hayes about investing in oneself and a complementary message from Southeast Arkansas TOT Director Rita Venable about giving to others.
Hayes acknowledged the caretaking nature of women, noting that while it’s a gift, women often forget to care for themselves. When one takes times to add value to herself, she can, in turn, add value to others.
“When you’re the best that you can be, that tends to overflow into every area of your life,” Hayes said.
Though everyone encounters negative experiences, they usually contribute to positive self growth, she said. Hayes added that we are all given the gift of potential—our job is to develop it.
“Outside of your comfort zone is where there is great potential to make a significant impact,” she said.
Once we’ve invested in ourselves, we’re ready to give to others. Venable weaved the message into her talk by suggesting that when franchisees offer TOT, they should see themselves as giving gifts to daycare and preschool directors.
Sporting a bag full of gifts and snacks, Venable explained that kind gestures, such as bringing a few strawberry slushes when meeting a daycare staff, help to build trust and friendship. She also said when she’s out doing business, she never knows what the day is going to bring.
“I’m always surprised at who comes to me,” Venable said. “I never know who God’s gonna show up with.”
But Venable encouraged franchisees to see unexpected moments as opportunities that may blossom into great relationships. If someone turns away an offer, Venable said, never give up on continuing to build the relationship.