Maximizing Opportunities With International Delegations
Take advantage of trade show platforms to grow your brand overseas.
By Sonia Perrone
Now more than ever before, franchising is a major U.S. export as consumers in emerging economies respond to the familiarity of established American logos. The trend has been driven not just by the large franchise systems, but by up-and-comers as well. In fact, more than 500 U.S. franchise brands have more than 50,000 locations in foreign markets, according to Franchise Times. Given that 95 percent of the world’s potential consumers are beyond U.S. borders, there is much market potential to be tapped. So where should franchisors turn to recruit top quality international candidates? One answer is industry trade shows.
One of the most well-known of these is the International Franchise Expo conducted annually in New York City, sponsored by the International Franchise Association. According to MFV Expositions, franchise industry’s premier annual event producer, last year the IFE attracted more than 19,000 visitors and nearly 4,000 of those were international participants. This year’s numbers are likely to reach more than 20,000 attendees with a significantly increased presence of foreign franchisee prospects.
The IFE has once again been selected for 2015 by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce as one of the limited number of expos worldwide to participate in its International Buyer Program. As part of the program, the agency’s U.S. Commercial Service will work to help international buyers find quality product and services franchises during the trade show. International buyers who are visiting as representatives or qualified companies receive free admission to show exhibits, discounts on symposia rates, free matchmaking for concepts, assistance arranging and scheduling appointments with U.S exhibitors and companies, access to the International Business Center, and more.
“Our expos have gained recognition as first-class international shows, where foreign attendees have face-to-face conversations with representatives of top brands in franchising and develop dynamic business relationships,” said Tom Portesy, MFV Expositions president. “The International Buyer Program assists international visitors in meeting with targeted exhibitors to cultivate partnerships and promote the sale of U.S. products and services.”
Franchise companies seeking to connect with international franchise candidates are aware there are limited opportunities for those interactions to take place here in the United States. The IFE is recognized as a significant opportunity to make those vital connections necessary for international development.
Expos Attract High-Quality Prospects
According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 81 percent of trade show attendees have buying authority and 45 percent of attendees visit only one exhibitor per year. What does this mean? The prospects attending expos are above-average candidates and franchisors have a small window to connect.
Understanding the Value of Face-to-Face Interaction
Many franchisors see the chance to meet face-to-face with many prospects as the reason why expos, such as the IFE, are popular as they consistently attract a high-quality pool of foreign buyers, investors and distributors. Many franchise brands are seeing a significant percentage of signed franchise agreements stemming from in-person meetings at industry trade shows. Whether this results in your first meeting with the prospect or it is someone you have been communicating with for months, meeting in-person allows a direct, personal connection that is otherwise more challenging to develop.
Taking advantage of this opportunity with international prospects will set the foundation for a long-term relationship as the potential partnership further develops.
Build Relationships with Local Contacts
With such an expanding global market taking shape, it makes sense for franchise brands to expand internationally. Other than the traditional route of welcoming international delegates to U.S. expos, franchisors are finding value in investing in exhibitor opportunities at international trade shows. This opens the doors for possibilities to establish relationships with serious local prospects.
For example, Tutor Doctor, the fastest growing “in-home” private tutoring franchise worldwide, was invited to be part of the Official IFA Study Tour to Australia. Not only was the trip highly beneficial for the top executives to learn about the market and start building key business contacts, but it was fundamental to the launch of Tutor Doctor’s first and now second Australian territories.
“The National Franchise Convention gave us the opportunity to meet with and learn from influential board members of the Franchise Council of Australia, as well as leaders from some of the top franchise companies operating in Australia, who shared their acquired insight and best practices for successfully expanding into the Australian market,” said Frank Milner, CFE, Tutor Doctor president. “Thanks to our involvement with this international trip, Tutor Doctor is well on its way to opening 10 additional territories over the next year to reach 80 total units throughout Australia by the end of 2019.”
Additionally, Wayback Burgers, recognized as one of the most aggressive and ambitious better-burger brands, has found international delegates to be of the utmost importance; they are a tremendous source of knowledge of what works and what does not work in their respective countries when appointing master franchisees. Currently, the company is signing on two new master franchisees for Canada, one in Alberta and another in Toronto. Nigeria and Pakistan will be next to join the Wayback Burgers family.
“The several international delegates I have met with personally couldn’t have been more eager to guide me in searching for the right master franchisee candidate for our brand,” said Bill Chemero, CFE, Jake’s Wayback Burgers executive vice president. “I would highly recommend reaching out to the delegates of the countries you have interest in establishing your brand and take advantage of their guidance before starting your recruitment plans.”
The 2015 IFE will be conducted June 18 to 20 at the Javits Center in New York City and will feature more than 450 franchise opportunities. The IFE offers the most comprehensive conference on franchising, including more than 70 free seminars along with in-depth symposiums. This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to meet entrepreneurs from the United States and more than 90 countries from around the world.
Attendees can also learn best practices from industry experts hosting educational symposia geared toward every stage of the franchise journey. For details, visit http://www.ifeinfo.com/. For more information on MFV Expositions franchise expo shows, visit mfvexpo.com. To exhibit, call 201-881-1666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sonia Perrone is the group marketing director at MFV Expositions, the producer of leading franchise events worldwide. Find her at fransocial.franchise.org.