The IFE in progress
(This is a guest post fromKathleen McDonald, who is an International franchise development consultant with 25 years experience.)
The last decade has been a difficult one for the International Franchise Expo, once regarded as the country’s premier franchise expo. Gone are the days of crowds of prospective franchise candidates previewing exciting trends in franchise opportunities. Today, the long lines of prospects have disappeared. The question is this;
Should franchisors follow?
This year’s IFE provided a snapshot of the current status of franchising….
Despite a wilting economy, entrepreneurship is thriving as witnessed by the number of new franchise brands in attendance. Children’s services (education, entertainment, fitness) and fast food were popular categories, along with new entries from the US, Europe and Asia. Success stories in an industry which has struggled these last few years were good to see. Sounds good? Yes, but there was a disturbing trend lurking in the exhibition aisles.
Ask a franchisor the question, “how many franchisees do you have” and way too many times the answer was “none… though we have one company unit open and will be expanding through franchising”.
Another acknowledged that, after implementing a distribution network, the company was now introducing a franchise model, though they had no actual data upon which to base this decision.
Then there were franchisors with a handful of franchisees, been in business a year or two, and are actively seeking international franchise partners. Huh??? What are they thinking?
New concepts illustrate the winning side of the franchise equation. Unfortunately they can also be a reminder of the dangers of the “get-rich-quick” mindset of some franchisors. Franchising provides economic opportunities for entrepreneurs lacking the skills to start their own business. Buyers beware. Unless franchisors acknowledge their responsibility to provide a proven, financially sound franchise system to prospects, everyone loses.
(Kathleen McDonald is a franchise development consultant with 25 years experience working with service and retail franchises in the US, Canada, Eastern Europe and Asia. Representing franchisors and master licensees, she has conducted national marketing surveys; implemented franchise sales programs; and improved market performance through unit transfers. You can reach her at [email protected])
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