Big Apple to Attract Investors During 2015 International Franchise Expo
Why trade shows are a must among growing franchise brands.
By Sonia Perrone
The International Franchise Expo is a launching pad for many new and successful franchisors. The show, which is sponsored by the International Franchise Association, stands out as a global event that continues to bring together franchise brands of all industries for investors of every background. It presents a great opportunity to expand internationally as entrepreneurial travelers from around the world, including Africa, China, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, attend the annual show.
While the show attracts prospects from around the world, it also draws significant numbers of attendees from the New York City metropolitan area, as well as from nearly every state. The IFE presents the perfect platform for face-to-face interaction with industry leaders as it has the highest attendance of all the domestic shows. The synergy of international and domestic attendees makes this a “must-go” expo.
The 2014 IFE was the largest in the 23-year history of the event. Nearly 20,000 attendees from 96 countries around the world congregated with more than 400 exhibitors to learn about franchise concepts and expansion opportunities both domestic and abroad. Whether seeking single-unit, area development or multi-unit opportunities, attendees were well educated and serious about pursuing opportunities. More than 30 percent said they planned to invest $100,000 to nearly $500,000 in myriad franchise concepts.
According to the 2015 Franchise Business Economic Outlook, compiled by HIS Global Insight for IFA’s Educational Foundation, the franchise industry is expected to grow and create more jobs at a faster pace than the rest of the economy for the fifth consecutive year, which means franchising remains a hot opportunity for potential investors. In fact, the franchise sector is expected to contribute about 3percent of the U.S. GDP in 2015.
“We attribute the spike in turnout over the past few years to the continued growth in the franchise space,” said Tom Portesy, president and CEO of MFV Expositions, producers of the IFE. “With franchise economic output estimated to increase by 5.4 percent, investors are hungry to get in on the action. We expect record-breaking attendance this year from both franchisors and attendees. As the largest event in the industry, this expo is a ‘must’ among growing franchise brands as the benefits of attending the IFE are undeniable.”
Making an Impression, Face-To-Face
Franchising is, and always will be, about establishing and building relationships. Online marketing and direct mail may generate leads or drive prospects to a website, but just about everyone in the industry pursues this tactic. Ultimately, the key to selling a franchise prospect comes down to personal connection. There is no substitute for the opportunity to meet potential franchisees one-on-one, in person, and really bond over a business opportunity. Now, more than ever, prospects seem to be searching for ways to make that connection and develop a real relationship with the company they are investing in, and the IFE provides that opportunity.
There is nothing better than being able to meet prospects in person,” said George M. Vodin, president of Fancy Art NFP. “You can have a conversation, get acquainted and read their body language. Most importantly, when you talk to them personally you begin to build a relationship and rapport that is essential to attracting highly qualified franchise candidates.”
While verbal messaging is necessary, a visually appealing booth display is just as important when showcasing your brand. From booth and brochures, to your brand’s website and relevant marketing materials, it is important to understand that every detail counts. An organized, clean booth will attract more attention, allowing you to pull the attendee in to give them more information about your franchise opportunity.
“As a franchisor actively seeking to sign multi-unit area development agreements, the prospects who attend this show tend to know a great franchise opportunity when they see it,” said Paul McKenna, CEO of Waxy O’Conner’s Irish Pub & Restaurant. “The majority of prospects attending are well qualified and capitalized, as such we want to be sure we get the opportunity to meet them face-to-face. This year, we are doing something really special; we are shipping our custom-made 360 degree conceptual Irish bar, made in Ireland, to give prospects an inside look at the uniqueness of our brand.’’
One of the most important things to remember at trades shows is that these expos are about lead-generation events versus sales. While you want to do everything you can to build rapport with your prospects and to qualify them on the floor, a good show does the job of providing you with a constant stream of traffic. With more than 19,000 attendees roaming the trade show floor, it is important to be sure you have enough people manning your booth for the best quality results.
“The United Franchise Group was pleased with the results of the 2014 IFE,” said Tony Foley, CFE, company international director. “We had six booths at the show representing all of our brands, and although I have not received a total count of the number of people we engaged, it had to be easily over 1,000 with which we personally spoke.”
“Last year’s IFE was a great success,” said Gary Findley, COO of EnVie Fitness. “We had just rolled out a brand new concept and sold our first franchise to a couple that had traveled from Phoenix to New York specifically to attend the IFE. Obviously the IFE did a great job in reaching out to potential prospects all over the country. We are looking forward to this year’s event.”
Industry Brand Awareness and Credibility
According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 83 percent of exhibitors agreed that “building/expanding brand awareness” is a high-priority marketing-related objective for trade shows.
The IFE has more than potential buyers in attendance. Passing on this expo means you could miss out on opportunities to:
- Secure coverage for your brand with influential media,
- Meet well-regarded franchise consultants who can point investors and franchisees in your direction, and
- Interact with real estate brokers who have the power to help you move into a strategic growth market.
Exhibiting at the IFE is extremely beneficial, not only for emerging brands, but for well-established companies. Those who come prepared, with interactive booths and engaging staff will be able to capitalize on the experience. Have meaningful conversations with attendees, be thorough in your post-expo follow-ups to your quality leads and you will be able to reap all the benefits of attending the IFE.
This three-day event will take place June 18-20 at the Javits Center in New York City. For more information on MFV Expositions franchise expo shows, visit mfvexpo.com. To exhibit, call 201-881-1666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Register for the International Franchise Expo at www.ifeinfo.com.
Sonia Perrone is the group marketing director at MFV Expositions, the producer of leading franchise events worldwide. Find her at fransocial.franchise.org.