Expo gives visitors a valuable insight into the international franchise community

Thousands of potential franchise owners from around the globe descended on Washington DC to find out more about the 200 opportunities exhibiting at the International Franchise Expo.

The 19th Annual International Franchise Expo was held in Washington, D.C. in early April, when the city was in the middle of the Cherry Blossom Festival, and at its most attractive.

The Walter E. Washington Convention Center, a spacious facility with wide aisles and good rest and meeting spaces, proved to be a perfect venue for both exhibitors and visitors.

The expo was organised by MFV Expositions and sponsored by the International Franchise Association and attracted more than 8,000 qualified visitors to meet with 200 franchisor exhibitors, who were looking for single unit franchise owners, area developers and, in some cases, International Master Franchise Owners.

As well as the chance to visit the exhibitors' booths, there were free seminars covering every aspect of buying, managing and marketing a franchise, which gave potential franchise owners an in-depth, unbiased view of the rewards - and pitfalls - of investing in a franchise operation.

Companies exhibiting offered a wide selection of franchises - from care services to cookies, dancing to decking, and sushi to smoothies - and came from as far afield as Australia and New Zealand, Asia, the Middle East and Europe as well as from across the United States, providing a truly international picture of global franchising.

Joint MDs of Roly Poly Sandwiches Julie Reid and Linda Wolf said: "Now we have firmly established ourselves as franchisors in the US, we are looking to expand into the International market and have been pleasantly surprised at the number and quality of enquiries we have had."

This was echoed by Shawn Smith, of RevaSlim weight loss centres, who said: "I have had more enquiries than any other show has given me and a firm sale - I shall be back."

Professor Roy Seaman CFE and a team from his company Franchise Development Services manned a booth for the three days and had a steady stream of enquiries from franchisors wanting help and advice about developing international offerings.

Roy said: "We will be very busy for the next few weeks following up all the leads and look forward to helping some really interesting US brands start UK and European operations. It has been an excellent show and we will certainly be here again next year."

Reported by Richard Langrick