In the USA it's Quality over Quantity
With the launch of a series of Regional Finance & Franchising Events in Atlanta, Boston and North Texas, MFV'Expositions is inviting UK franchisors and investors with a serious interest in international expansion and global brands to attend its events
The USA franchise trade show trio of the International Franchise Expo, West Coast Franchise Expo and Franchise Expo South have never been more popular, averaging an estimated 10,000 attendees per show in 2008. Now exhibitors and attendees have even more opportunities to connect. Show producer MFV Expositions has launched a series of regional events for 2009, starting with the Atlanta Franchise & Financing Expo in May.
The Atlanta event comes on the heels of the successful regional Central Virginia Franchise & Financing Expo in Richmond, Virginia last year. As a result of that show's popularity, MFV Expositions is expanding the Franchise & Financing Expo series into Atlanta, Boston and North Texas. 'The Central Virginia Franchise & Financing Expo was a huge success, educating the most qualified prospects on the merits of owning a franchise,' says Tom Portesy, President of MFV.
Like the Central Virginia event, which was initiated by the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce with assistance from the Small Business Administration's Richmond District Office and sponsored by the International Franchising Association (IFA), the 2009 regional events are produced in cooperation with the IFA, regional economic development offices and local Chambers of Commerce.
The Atlanta Franchise & Financing Expo kicks off 2nd-3rd May at the Cobb Galleria Centre and features exhibitors and prospects, all searching to meet their franchise match. According to Larry Trimble of United Franchise Group, regional shows are just as effective as the larger IFE, WCFE and FES events. 'United Franchise Group did the Central Virginia show in Richmond last year and we received almost as many deals out of that event as we did at the International Franchise Expo in D.C,' says Trimble, Vice President of Development for the company. 'We ran into the right people at the Central Virginia show, they were buyers. MFV-produced shows draw a different calibre of attendee and they pick the right venues. That's one of the reasons we're going to be in Atlanta.'
Jeff Sturgis, Vice President of Franchise Sales and Development for Fantastic Sam's, is an advocate of trade shows, particularly when he's targeting a specific market for development. 'We have been an active participant in trade shows for a few years, both large and smaller more localised shows,' he says. 'If we are targeting a specific market for development, I find value in shows because it adds another layer to my overall marketing efforts in that area.' Eric Lawton of On-Target Maintenance, a cleaning and maintenance management company, is exhibiting at the Boston Franchise & Financing regional expo in June. 'What we hope to achieve by exhibiting at a smaller show is to try and keep our market targeted,' Lawton says. 'We're currently focusing on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, so we're going to be at IFE and in Boston as well as other smaller shows in that area. We're making a point to stick specifically to that geographic area.'
Focusing on a specific region and targeting an audience outside of the IFE, WCFE and FES allows exhibitors to introduce concepts to a new audience that doesn't travel to the larger, national showcases. While some prospects may not travel to Washington, D.C, Los Angeles or Miami, many will attend a regional show in their hometown.
'We are hoping to get people who may not necessarily want to travel to D.C. for IFE, or Miami if they live in Texas, but will attend a trade show in Boston or Dallas if it's in their own backyard,' says Lawton. 'It gets expensive to fly to an event, but in Boston we'll have a built-in audience right there and that's the key. People will drive from a few hours away to attend a regional show.'
WORK THE SHOW
Another benefit of smaller, regional shows is more time to meet and greet with prospects. So it's imperative that when you attend as an exhibitor you interact with the crowd. The flashiest booth in the room won't do you any good if you're not speaking with the prospects.
'We have always had a fairly simple booth, so to me the booth itself is not as important as how you work the show,' says Sturgis. 'I like my sales team to be professionally proactive on the show floor, which means standing in front of the booth and asking people if they have received information about us. This tends to invite conversation easier than just trying to hand out a brochure or asking them if they have interest in my franchise.'
Trimble is attending the Atlanta show with three of his company's concepts, Sign-A-Rama, EmbroidMe and the home-based, part-time opportunity Plan Ahead Events. 'We've been doing franchise shows since the '70s,' says Trimble. 'Before the internet, trade shows were always the bulk of our leads. But even now, with all the other outlets to attract prospects, one out of every three to four leads still comes from the shows.
'When we attend a show we work it hard. We're in the aisle and talking to everyone. Atlanta has the potential to be even bigger than D.C, because Atlanta is a larger city. The bigger the market, the bigger the show.'
The Atlanta Franchising and Financing Expo features several franchise educational training programmes and seminars. How to Franchise Your Existing Business is a popular session for those just getting started. An SBA rep will introduce the seminar which is ideal for business owners interested in franchising or looking to determine if franchising is a viable growth option. Attendees will gain a thorough understanding of the franchising process including necessary resources, costs and personnel needs.
Other seminars include:
The A-to-Zs of Buying a Franchise
Experts will help prospective franchise owners as they evaluate the many different opportunities available. From finding a franchise that's right for each prospect, to asking questions of the franchisor and franchise owners, to understanding franchising's legal documents, this seminar prepares prospects to acquire a franchise opportunity with confidence.
Financing Your Franchise
MAKE PLANS NOW
If you haven't booked your space or registered, now's the time. The Boston Franchise & Financing Expo is 6th-7th June at the Hynes Convention Center and the North Texas Franchise & Financing Expo is 21st-22nd November at the Dallas Convention Center.
Since many concepts pre-book space months before the Expo, it's important to reserve a spot as soon as possible. The earlier you book, the more likely your brand will obtain a prime space that can maximise your presence.
'Franchise expos are all about quality over quantity,' says Trimble. 'I'd rather talk to 100 people and get 10 deals that speak with 1,000 and get five. This Atlanta show will attract the right people. Basically if you're in Atlanta or the surrounding area and you're looking for a business opportunity you'd be crazy not to check out the Expo.'