In this exclusive Q&A, we learn about the first-ever virtual, online event organized by the International Franchise Expo from Sheila Fischer, vice president of MFV Expositions.
Franchise Chatter (FC): What will this year’s International Franchise Expo consist of?
Sheila Fischer (SF): While we have rescheduled dates for the highly anticipated International Franchise Expo (IFE) that will now take place on October 1-3 at the Javits Center in New York City, we were determined to bring franchisors and prospective franchisees together via a virtual platform amid COVID-19.
This first-ever virtual, online event will take place on May 28-30 and currently has more than 300 leading and emerging brands registered as virtual exhibitors. In addition to the vast number of exhibitors, the expo will offer similar comprehensive educational programs as our live events, with recorded presentations by franchise industry leaders, downloadable white papers, articles, and more.
FC: Why was the decision made to host a virtual show?
SF: We understand franchise companies need to keep their pipelines healthy and full during these unprecedented times, and can’t wait until the fall to engage prospects. We intend to drive qualified leads to our exhibitors so that when the dust settles, they are in a position to close deals. Ultimately, we want this virtual show to provide a robust platform to assist in our franchisors’ endeavors, and we look forward to the newly-signed agreements that result in the coming months.
Furthermore, we know franchising can help rebuild the U.S. and global economy. As many re-evaluate personal finances and career paths, franchising – whether it be ownership or unit-level employees – is a great way to help with unemployment rates, and improve general economic security for individuals and families in a post-pandemic environment.
FC: What can franchisors expect in terms of exhibiting?
SF: Exhibitors will have the ability to design an online presence with a virtual booth where they can host live meetings, distribute collateral, and interact with interested candidates from around the world. We have been working closely with the event’s title sponsor Entrepreneur Media and other strategic partners, to leverage much of the same comprehensive marketing campaigns used for our portfolio of shows, ensuring qualified candidates attend the live event and participate in this exciting new platform.
Exhibitors will receive qualified leads from individuals who are looking to buy a franchise as an alternative to returning to or finding new jobs. With nearly 30 million people needing an alternative, many will look to open a business not by choice but by happenstance.
One thing this pandemic has shined a light on is the value of having the support of a franchisor to provide guidance, resources, and collateral to navigate uncertain times and emerge stronger than before. Since many may not be entrepreneurs in the traditional sense, they will look to be in business for themselves, but not by themselves…franchising is the logical answer.
FC: How has franchise development shifted amid the current COVID-19 landscape? What value does this show bring to franchisors?
SF: There has undoubtedly been a paradigm shift as it relates to franchise development amid the current COVID-19 landscape. Many franchisors are finding it extremely difficult to keep their pipelines full and are being forced to innovate and adapt so they can continue to forge ahead. While economic uncertainty remains steadfast, one thing we do know for sure is that franchising will bounce back – the question is, “how big will your brand’s bounce back be?”
Most franchisors are resilient – they survived 9/11, the 2008 economic meltdown, and other stressful times, and they will survive this pandemic. It has been amazing to see the incredible innovation efforts across the industry with franchise brands finding new ways to generate leads online, creating virtual discovery days, adjusting business models, etc. They are well-positioned to move forward with growing their brand and their teams.
This online event provides franchisors a resource to get ahead and break away from the pack while others take a break. We’ve devised a solution to help in generating quality leads via this virtual show. It is more important than ever that franchisors use this time to interact with prospects, so they have candidates ready to invest – setting themselves up for a massive boom post-pandemic.
FC: What can attendees expect?
SF: We are anticipating thousands of attendees who will all be able to search for their ideal entrepreneurial matches. Like the live events, attendees can expect to learn about and interact with top franchise brands across nearly every industry with investment levels ranging from as little as $10,000 to over $1 million, providing opportunities at almost every budget.
The educational sessions, given by industry experts, will help them find the perfect franchise fit, the pros and cons of investing in a franchise, how to finance their new venture, and more. There is also a track geared toward business owners who want to franchise their current businesses.
FC: What are some of the standout highlights of the online show?
SF: The highlights of the show are the educational programs and the ability to interact with franchise brands during live presentations while learning how franchising can change their life – all from the comfort of their own home.
FC: What kinds of industries will be represented?
SF: The exhibiting brands will touch nearly every industry ranging from healthcare to fitness, to early childhood education, pet services, senior care, restaurants, janitorial services, and more.
FC: If a reader is interested, where can they register?
SF: Franchisors interested in exhibiting are encouraged to reach out to me at 201-881-1656 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on various booth listing packages.
Those interested in attending can pre-register for free by visiting https://onlinefranchiseexpo.com/account/signup.