Opportunity knocks for franchising

Exhibitions are an effective way of discovering more about the industry, to meet franchisees, discuss options with franchise businesses, and gather advice and support.

Next year, there will now be even more opportunities to attend a show, with six major franchise events in the UK, including two taking place in Birmingham and London in the spring. New for 2012, the National Franchise Exhibition returns to the NEC in Birmingham on 24-25 February 2012, followed by The British & International Franchise Exhibition between March 16-17, at Olympia, London.

Visitors to the recent National Franchise Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham enjoyed the perfect introduction to the world of franchising and were able to meet with more than 150 franchise businesses covering a range of sectors, as well as advisors and franchisees.

Carl St. Paul, a leisure industry worker from the West Indies, says the show was very informative: “The businesses available covered every sector, and I received lots of information that I would not have otherwise gained if I had not have visited the show.”

Retail business owner Binda Tatla from London concurred: “There was a variety of exhibitors who were all really interesting.  I came here to gain knowledge of the sector, so I think I achieved that.”

Many new franchises introduced their businesses at the event, including Green King Meet and Eat, Jim’s Mowing, Wilkins Chimney Sweep, Just Shutters, and Energy & Carbon Management; exhibiting alongside established names such as McDonald’s, Subway and Cash Generator.

Positive atmosphere
There was a busy, dynamic atmosphere at the show with plenty of activity on the stands including meetings, demonstrations, briefings and even the occasional celebrity – former England Rugby prop Jeff Probyn joined Bar Sports on its stand to discuss England’s performance in the Rugby World Cup with visitors.

The positive atmosphere was noted by many. Exhibitor Berkeley Harris of WPA, observed how visitors “clearly have an air of confidence about themselves that British franchising is clearly the future of the British economy. Franchising has always done well through difficult times and 2011/2012 looks set to be no different.”

The UK’s largest franchise event also had a number of free features offering support and guidance from banks, accountants, solicitors and franchising experts. Exclusive to the National Franchise Exhibition was an extensive free conference programme, including seminars by the British Franchise Association (bfa) on key franchise-related topics. These seminars proved popular, and drew large audiences, as Lynne Lyons from Lincoln, a manager at a local authority, explained: “The seminars were very good and an easy way to find out further information. We’ve come away with a more refined idea of what business might suit us.”

The Franchisee Panel held multiple sessions due to popular demand, which were very well received by visitors, according to Neil Smith, a customer services director from Epsom: “The Franchisee Panel gave a good insight into the work that you have to invest. The panel were very open and honest about their earnings. The exhibition is a good way to find new ideas to review.”

Successful entrepreneurs
One of the highlights of the show for many was the series of Growing Your Own Business seminars. Successful entrepreneurs addressed a packed audience and shared the secrets of their success. Among the speakers were Hannah Wolsey, managing director of Urban Coffee Company, and the company’s co-founder Simon Jenner, who discussed where fledgling businesses can find support, marketing objectives, and how businesses can have a positive social impact. “These events are great for trading ideas and learning from other, more established companies,” Wolsey said.

Adrian Goodsell, franchise exhibitions manager at organisers Venture Marketing Group, said: “There was a buoyant, positive attitude towards investing in franchises among the many visitors at the NEC. This bodes well for the six events that we will be staging around the country in 2012 with the support of the bfa.”

New franchise event
For those considering franchising as a career option, there will be business opportunities and valuable advice at two major franchise events taking place in the spring next year. The National Franchise Exhibition returns to the NEC in Birmingham on February 24-25, 2012, and The British & International Franchise Exhibition takes place March 16-17 at Olympia, London.

Both events showcase a broad range of franchise businesses that cover virtually every sector with ideas to suit every budget, lifestyle and skill. There are also many free features which provide visitors with all the support they need in order to investigate and progress a move into a new career as a franchisee.

Most importantly, these franchise exhibitions are exclusively supported by the British Franchise Association (bfa). Visitors can have confidence in the franchise businesses exhibiting as only companies that follow the Association’s code of ethics are able to exhibit.

A good way to begin a visit to the show is at The Franchise Starting Point. Here, experts from organisations including the bfa, banks, accountants and franchisees will provide visitors with help in considering their options and finding a businesses that suits their requirements.

Visitors who need guidance in assessing their career path and planning future job moves should head to The Careers Clinic. At this feature, a group of professionals will work with visitors to define their goals and objectives in order to create a practical and useful career plan.

The informative and inspiring Franchisee Panel is always popular with visitors year after year, and offers an insight into life as a franchisee. The panel of business people who have made the move into franchising share their real life accounts of making the transition from employee to being self-employed.

Both shows also feature an extensive free conference programme which includes seminars by the bfa on key franchise-related topics. Among the issues covered are: how to find funding, who you should go to for legal advice, and what a franchisor looks for in a franchisee. In addition, there will be a series of seminars on key franchise-related topics including an introduction to franchising, families in franchising; high level franchising, growing your own business and executives in franchising.

Wide range of exhibitors
Exhibitors at the shows cover a wide range of industries and visitors can meet face to face with the franchise owners to discuss opportunities. These businesses span a wide range of areas such as food and drink, travel, property and home care. Businesses confirmed so far for The British & International Franchise Exhibition in London include as Auditel, Cloud Bookkeeping, Computer Xplorers, Go Cruise, Home Instead Senior Care and Property Search.

Keith Spengler, a telecommunications manager from Banbury and visitor at a recent franchise exhibition, said: “We really enjoyed ourselves at the show and saw many innovative ideas and eye-catching stands. It is a great way to review a diverse range of businesses.”

Idara Udoh, a bridal industry franchisee from Bristol, added: “Franchising has helped me to develop my existing business well, and at a faster pace than it would have done otherwise. The show has helped me to see lots of opportunities in one day and I am leaving with plenty to consider.”

Adrian Goodsell, franchise exhibitions manager at Venture Marketing Group, organisers of the National Franchise Exhibition and the British & International Franchise Exhibition, said: “Budding franchisees should put these dates in their diaries and come along. Both shows are packed with business opportunities, support and guidance, all under one roof, and offer a real insight into what is a very healthy industry. This is a superb way to find the right franchise.”

Feedback from visitors and exhibitors at our recent shows has indicated that, despite the current economic climate, there is plenty of opportunity and support available for those who want to become involved in franchising.

The National Franchise Exhibition takes place at the NEC Birmingham on 24 and 25 February, and the British & International Franchise Exhibition takes place March 16-17 at Olympia, London.

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