In this exclusive Q&A, we get to learn more about Franchise Expo West from Thomas Portesy, President and CEO of MFV Expositions.
This year’s Franchise Expo West will be held at the Colorado Convention Center from October 6 to 8.
Franchise Chatter (FC): What makes this year’s Franchise Expo West different than years past?
Thomas Portesy (TP): This is the first year that the expo will try a new city after the show was in Los Angeles then Anaheim for the past 12 years. We’re excited about the change of scenery.
Overall, the enthusiasm for franchise ownership continues to increase, bolstered by a positive economic outlook. There is also an increase in the amount of information available for prospective entrepreneurs. In general, people are more knowledgeable about the industry, they’ve done their due diligence and they are asking the right types of questions.
Franchisors are adapting their approach as well to show potential franchisees they are responsive and agile in a competitive marketplace. Those attending the expo will see firsthand how we organized the expo to provide attendees with better access to information and greater accessibility to franchisors to begin those really important conversations.
The confidence in the franchise model is higher than ever before and we’ve created a three-day program that reflects that excitement for owning a small business.
FC: Tell us a little about why you chose Denver to host this year’s Franchise Expo West?
TP: There are more people aspiring to become business owners than ever before and we wanted the host city for the expo to reflect that trend. Colorado has seen an explosive economy and population growth, rooted mainly in the Denver area. The city has been named a “Best City for Business Careers” by Forbes and is home to more than 170 small businesses per 10,000 people.
Denver has really embraced the entrepreneurial spirit at every level and generated the perfect environment for small business growth and specifically for franchise expansion. When a market is experiencing this type of growth, it needs the services and infrastructure to support the boom, from pet care to printing shops to restaurants, child care and more. There is an opportunity in every industry and Denver doesn’t show any signs of slowing down any time soon.
FC: What goes into organizing an event of this caliber?
TP: There are so many moving pieces for an expo of this size that it’s easy to lose a lot of sleep during the planning phase. However, having a great team around me and some wonderful partners has helped alleviate some of the stress.
The first step is finding the right venue and working with that team to ensure exhibitors and attendees are cared for. Then, we work on developing the exhibitor base and gathering hundreds of companies looking to expand in the market.
There are many strategic partners that we work with along the way, from government agencies to business organizations, colleges and universities and national and local media. It is my role to make sure all those moving parts are working together seamlessly and staying focused on the goal of providing a one-of-a-kind experience for everyone who walks through the doors.
FC: What do you love about what you do?
TP: I get to provide the setting that facilitates hundreds of positive interactions between franchisors and qualified entrepreneurs. We have worked hard to build the type of program that attracts franchisees eager to launch a business for themselves but not by themselves.
While the days and months leading up to the expo can be chaotic, it is worth it when I see people making meaningful connections.
FC: What are some of the opportunities people will encounter on the showroom floor?
TP: I’m always surprised by the amount of industries represented by the franchise industry. Virtually every industry you could imagine is served by over 200 companies. And, with opportunities at every investment level – starting at $10,000 and going up to several million – no one feels excluded.
Prospective franchisees will be able to learn about the financing options and understand the breakdown of costs to own a franchise.
FC: What are the biggest obstacles for entrepreneurs considering business ownership?
TP: While there are many reasons, I see three common obstacles. The first reason is option paralysis. After being presented with so many different options, it can be too overwhelming to narrow down to the top 2-3 franchises that really work for you.
Secondly, prospective entrepreneurs must overcome fear of the unknown and the potential for failure.
And finally, a lack of understanding of the process of searching, evaluating, selecting and not fully committing to that process.
The expo helps with overcoming these obstacles, giving franchisors a chance to showcase the support and resources they provide franchisees and giving entrepreneurs a chance to pick the brains of current franchisees and remove those worries.
FC: What are some of the exciting concepts and trends greeting attendees this year?
TP: Attendees will be able to attend educational seminars and workshops covering a range of topics that prepare franchisees to handle operating their business and competing. Outside of that, there are so many exciting concepts within each industry, but we want to help entrepreneurs find the concept that fits their personality and meets their criteria.
For many who attend, the expo is the start of the journey. It really is rewarding to see franchisees come back to us a year later after attending the expo and thank us for providing the resources and the know-how to get them started.
It is a highly supportive environment and I look forward to the successes this year’s expo will bring!
Register using the following link and use promo code CHATTER to receive a complimentary pass to attend the show. On-site registration is also available, but pre-registration is recommended.