What do expo attendees really know? A special report

The average prospective franchisee now walks into a franchise exhibition with their mind set on a specific industry. They have done their research, often painstakingly for over a year and know what they can and what they want to invest in

The average prospective franchisee now walks into a franchise exhibition with their mind set on a specific industry. They have done their research, often painstakingly for over a year and know what they can and what they want to invest in. Their reason for attending an exhibition has changed over the years, the focus is less on finding out about franchising and the potential opportunities with different companies and more about meeting specific franchises they have researched and are serious about investing in.

This potential franchisee profile was drawn from the results of a survey conducted by MFV Expositions on the people who attended its recent franchise expos in Miami, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The data collected using FRANdata services showed that 72 per cent of the people who attended a franchise exhibition were already investigating a franchise opportunity while 43 per cent were close to finalising their investment. Of those interviewed, 46 per cent had made a shortlist of brands they were interested in before going to the exhibition and 55 per cent had used webpages, books and magazines related to franchising as part of their research.

CEO of Granite Transformation Mark Johnson explains how well-prepared potential franchisees can benefit the franchisor: 'Most visitors seem to understand the fundamentals of franchising, which gives franchisors a great opportunity to spend time focusing specifically on their concept. The people I spoke to at the International Franchise Exhibition (Washington D.C.) seemed to be very qualified and knew what they wanted, which made it very easy to figure out if Granite Transformation's concept was right for them.'

In many cases not everything can be researched online or read in books and magazines. A franchise exhibition provides prospective franchisees with the opportunity to meet the franchisors and the products at face value. Mark Johnson says: 'Granite Transformation has a product that needs to be touched and there's no better way to do that than through meeting thousands of people in one weekend.'

Vice President of Franchise Development for Dogtopia, Mike Schlegel agrees: 'The IFE provides maximum exposure for many brands and is the perfect opportunity to meet a new pool of highly qualified franchise candidates every time.'

With so many franchise exhibition visitors close to a decision before they walk through the doors, exhibitors have to be more creative and forthright in their approach towards prospective franchisees. Director of Tradeshow Operations at InfoUSA Brad Roselle explains: 'Exhibitors can't be everything to everyone, so they need to know what they do best and cater to that market. Exhibitors have to make sure that their marketing message focuses on their strengths and what differentiates them from their competitors.'

Ultimately, the influx of well-prepared franchise exhibition attendees who are seriously considering an investment in franchising is beneficial for the franchisors at the exhibition. The decision-making process is shorter as the attendee already knows what they want and the quality face-time the exhibition provides means that both franchisor and potential franchisee are able to see if they are right for each other.

Text: Joel Goldstein

This is the year to own a Franchise, and Transform your life.

In just 3 days, you'll meet face-to-face with hundreds of the top franchise concepts at every investment level. Attend educational seminars. And make the contacts that will help your future take off.

Washington Convention Center
Washington, DC
April 11-13, 2008