Are franchise expos dead? That’s what we’re talking about today.
Hello, and thanks for being here. What I want to discuss today is whether or not participating in an exhibit at a franchise expo is beneficial and a wise investment for franchisors. And today, we really want to start a discussion and a dialogue about this. Therefore, I’m going to invite you to share your opinions here. You know, I really want you to be making comments today because I really want your opinion on this.
You know, the company I worked for used to travel to these expos, exhibit, and invest in all of the larger shows, including some that I would describe as being more like citywide exhibitions, but they were still significant, like the Top 10, Top 20 Metropolitan regions in the United States. As a result, there was a respectable volume of traffic and exhibitors. However, with the specific brand I was working with, as far as I’m aware, we practically never had any sales and certainly never got a satisfactory return on investment for that. However, there were numerous brands present.
It was quite priceless. These franchise expos or franchise events provided consumers with a fantastic opportunity to learn information directly from the businesses before the internet was a real thing. This, in my opinion, applies to both consumers and exhibitors. Going there gave the purchasers advantages because they could see a wide range of products they were looking for as well as a huge number of items they weren’t even looking for.
So, what I started to see was that, again, the exhibits I’m talking about were solely franchise expos, and it may have been about eight or nine years ago, where the shows were not as highly attended by the exhibitors as by the franchisors. The expos I started going to all of a sudden had the same number of exhibitors, but all of a sudden, there were also business opportunities being presented or exhibited.
To me, the expo’s overall atmosphere had changed. There would still be the conventional franchisors that were performing admirably in these shows. However, I began to realize that the level of foot traffic was probably still about the same. However, I soon saw that the traits of the buyers’ prospects at the Expos were significantly dissimilar.
Not to be rude or anything, but the phrase that sort of circulated among the exhibitors at the expo was that, you know, the people here have a few thousand dollars burning a hole in their pockets to buy something, so it was really interesting to see how the dynamics of the exhibitors and the entire dynamics of the show, including the traits and dynamics of the potential buyers, had dramatically changed.
I want to explain how the epidemic first appeared two to three years ago. Therefore, it was evident that neither the performers nor the audience were present. Franchise sales nevertheless persisted.
I recently went to the International Franchise Expo (IFE), which, as far as I know, was the biggest franchise expo of its kind—if not in the entire globe, then at least in the nation—held in New York City. While I used to attend the IFE in New York, where the exhibit hall was jam-packed with exhibitors, vendors, and suppliers as well as meeting rooms and presentation areas, wall to wall, I was extremely disappointed when I went there because you could literally see empty space in the back of the hall where there were no exhibitors.
The value of the exhibitions can still be that the buyers get to see a variety of products at once, which is why I wanted to talk about it. You’ll see a lot at once if you spend a concentrated period of time touring the exhibit, so that’s a bonus. The franchisors, in particular, receive the additional benefits because they are likely to be prospective buyers. So that’s good; although I’m sure there are some tire kickers there, you know that foot traffic will bring you purchasers rather than tire kickers.
Again, the consumer has a wide range of possibilities. They also get to interact with the representatives. Customers get to meet someone, which is important in my opinion because, I don’t know about you, but occasionally I get so upset with the automation of a website or the automation of something online that I just want to talk to someone. So that you know, franchise expos unquestionably allow purchasers the chance to actually meet a firm representative, obtain firsthand information, ask thoughtful questions, and engage in dialogue. They also gain a great deal of time. No, they couldn’t browse the internet for two to three hours and find hundreds of franchise opportunities.
Therefore, the shows will undoubtedly save the consumer and potential buyer some time. The foot traffic that will be present, the folks who can rush into the middle of the aisle and draw them into your booth, is a tremendous source of leads for the franchisors. As a result, I believe it may be an excellent source of leads for specific businesses in particular. The other aspect of it is that, once again, if someone is searching the internet, they might be looking for restaurants, and yet, you run a business that provides home services. They might not have thought of that before, but if they see you at the Expo, they might consider starting a business that they had not previously considered.
But on the negative side, traffic has been sharply declining. The man hours spent at the exhibits plus the cost of housing someone for a few days in a hotel in a big city all add up to a very expensive exhibit. The applicants that franchisors will likely desire are those who are more interested in investing $100,000 or more, as opposed to those who want to invest $5,000, as I mentioned in some of even the very, very huge events. As a result, the traffic is significantly different at many of the big but more local shows. As a result, the franchisors’ lead generation is vastly different. So those are my remarks. These are my ideas.
Once more, I would sincerely appreciate hearing your opinions in the chat area where you found my show. Do you know if COVID has been permanently eliminated at this point? the likes of these? Are they deceased? Are they ever going to return? Once more, I’d like to hear your opinions because I need to know how to tell my clients if these are good or bad. The last thing I’ll say is that I’m not trying to bash the IFP, but I will point out that some of the tried-and-true franchisors I’ve seen exhibit for 23 years weren’t there. So once more, my questions are: Has COVID destroyed these, and will they ever reappear? I’d love to hear your responses. Do you still believe that franchise expos are beneficial to both consumers and franchisors?