The West Coast Franchise Expo: The power to make dreams come true

Franchise trade shows have transformed the idea of business ownership for thousands, explains Joel Goldstein, Director of Marketing for MFV Expositions

Helping people realise their dreams of owning their own business is one of the greatest things about franchising, according to Kera Vo, Franchise Development Manager of Maui Wowi...and she should know! Having exhibited at the West Coast Franchise Expo in Los Angeles in November, Vo once again saw the power that a franchising trade show can have to help turn those dreams into a reality among a crowd of thousands. 'The event has been great,' Vo says. 'It's important for franchisors to meet face-to-face with prospects.'

This is why so many franchisors are drawn to the sea of contacts found with the help of a high-profile trade show in a key market like the WCFE.

A Captive Audience
In total, the West Coast Franchise Expo attracted 218 exhibitors looking to connect with a highly qualified audience, and 9,136 visitors were present to explore a future in franchising - a sign that business ownership through franchising continues to be a top attraction.

'Franchising is growing at an accelerated rate and we want to be part of that growth,' says Jon Jameson, CEO and President of Maggie Moos International, which exhibited at the show. 'We'll add another 60 'Treateries' across the US this year.' Tapping into qualified audiences at trade shows is one way Jameson and others are meeting their growth objectives. Bob Goodyear, National Account Executive for Lawn Doctor, Inc., and Karl Griggs, Senior Director of Franchise Development for 1800Flowers, say the size and calibre of the WCFE audience speaks volumes. 'I've been in franchising for over 32 years and I really enjoy these shows,' Goodyear reflects. 'We'll see more prospects in these three days than we could see at any other show in the western United States. It's a good chance to meet and talk with people who are really looking to start their own business. Someone coming out of the corporate world or maybe someone who's been downsized or just ready for a change can start working for themselves.'

Showcasing a concrete opportunity to them also helps, according to Griggs: 'The event gives us an opportunity to present the look and feel of our products and our stores to prospective franchisees. These attendees are dedicated to their families and their entrepreneurial success, and are serious about starting their own business.'

Getting to Know a Well-Known Brand
Mix the power of some huge brand names into the recipe, and you begin to feel the energy that surrounds a quality trade show like the WCFE. 'Not that many people know that there's an Ace Hardware opportunity available to them,' says Kevin Cash, Divisional Manager of Business Development for Ace Hardware.

But in fact, the member-owned company with 4,700 hardware stores is still in expansion mode, and it used the WCFE to help spread the word. 'We want to tell our story that Ace is here and is ready to do business in the West,' says Cash. 'Being at the show has been a wonderful experience to get the visibility to local members of the community and even some international visitors of the business world who attend.'

On the East Side - IFE 2006
But get ready to pack your bags again, as marketing opportunities for 2006 promise to get even bigger. MFV Expositions, producer of the WCFE, will celebrate the 15th anniversary of the International Franchise Expo at the Washington D.C. Convention Center between 2nd and 4th June, and space is already limited.

Having become a hallmark annual event for franchising, the IFE will welcome over 350 exhibitors to the trade show floor who will be met by an estimated 13,000 qualified prospects investigating a future in franchising. Companies looking to expand their reach this year are invited to seize this opportunity to benefit from the IFE's longevity, marketing power, and successful track record for helping franchisors build their brands.

Endorsed by the International Franchise Association and attended by leading franchisors and franchise suppliers, the IFE has refined its programme for business development and continuing education for the experienced franchise member as well as the newcomer. This summer's event will be no exception - whether showcasing respected franchise opportunities, addressing the latest legal and operational issues for franchisors or franchisees, or educating prospects to the research and information that is present to make knowledgeable decisions when purchasing a franchise, the 2006 IFE will have something for everyone.

Women and Minorities
Women and minorities will find it especially informative as the recurring specialty seminar for 'Opportunities in Franchising for Minorities and Women' makes the agenda again.

Today, America has more than 9.1 million women-owned businesses that employ 27.5 million people and contribute US$3.6 trillion to the economy. In addition, US census data and the government's survey of male and female minority business owners recently showed entrepreneurship up 45 per cent among African-Americans, 31 per cent among Hispanics, 20 per cent among Asians and 20 per cent among women. Franchising is a popular topic with this audience and the IFE, which has attracted people from more than 90 countries in its history as well as a growing female and minority audience at home, is responding. While savvy franchisors are aggressively targeting these communities for growth, this seminar helps to define the legal terrain, explore financial options, identify ethnic markets, outline non-traditional franchising opportunities and overcome stereotypes.

Growth Mode
Today, whether just beginning the franchise journey or launching your next expansion plan, you're invited to grow alongside the supportive following of the IFE. If the dream of business ownership continues to become a reality through franchising, then the IFE will continue to serve as a meeting place where dreams are answered.