By NICK POWILLS
While time will only tell whether leads turn into sales, optimism was sky high at the International Franchise Expo’s
first foray into the Big Apple. Franchisors were praising the efforts of MFV to “change-up” the expo and make a big move from Washington, D.C., to New York City.
“We were slammed (on Friday),” said Greg Tanner, Vice President of Franchise Development for Aaron’s
Optimism is just what the franchise community needs, said Steve Beagelman, CEO and founder of SMB Franchise Advisors
, a franchise advisory company that helps concepts become franchisors.
“The traffic at the show was consistent (on Friday),” he said. “All of our clients were busy talking with prospects. Perhaps the change of scenery was exactly what this show needed to boost franchisor confidence in expos.”
The optimism and crowd comes at the perfect for the International Franchise Association, who noted in a recent report that franchise business jobs are expected to grow 2.1 percent this year.
“The turnout is certainly impressive,” said Matt Haller, Vice President, Public Affairs and Chief of Staff to the President & CEO for the Association.
[caption id="attachment_1484" align="alignright" width="199" caption="Prospective franchisees crowd New York franchise expo."]
Brands like Steak & Shake
, Philly Pretzel Factory
touted new designs that provide flexibility in concept, costs and financing, while brands like We Do Lines
, Tea Lounge
each promoted outside-the-box franchise opportunities. And brands like Lenny's Sub Shop
, Wing Zone
and Soccer Shots
each secured high traffic to their opportunity booths.
“Creativity is critical,” said Peter Riggs, Vice President of Brand Development for Pita Pit.
“In order to stand-out, brands must present something different. When a prospects walk into this giant room packed with franchise brands, they can get lost in the mix. Each brand has just a few seconds to sell their story. This is done through visuals and vocals.”
Franchise industry executives also use the Expo as an opportunity to search for trends. This year, more burger and fro-yo brands took center stage vying to own the category.
“We are constantly showing off our points of differentiation,” said Mandy Calara, CEO of Forever Yogurt
, a growing Chicago-based franchisor. Forever Yogurt, alongside Philly Pretzel Factory each earned crowd stopping praise with their fully operational units. “With thousands of visitors, it gives us a change to showcase our product,” Calara said.
Despite increased competition, burger brands are still experiencing solid growth.
"The show has been good," said Michael Mabry. who leads franchise development for MOOYAH
, "and should only continue to support our strong growth this year."
Other industries continued to hold ground, such as childcare (Goddard School
, KLA Schools
, Rainbow Academy
, O2B Kids
, Smarter Toddler
), pet care (K-9 Resorts
, Fetch! Pet Care
) and senior care (Seniors Helping Seniors
Regardless of the future outcomes, franchisors are encouraged of MFV’s expo revival.
“Perhaps they should switch up the location of other shows. This move certainly worked to create a renewed excitement,” said Brett Larrabee, Director of Franchise Development for Famous Dave’s