2015 International Franchise Expo Reports Success: Spurs Small Business Growth

More than 20,000 attendees from across the United States and over 100 countries attended the 2015 International Franchise Expo (IFE) in New York City, creating the biggest event in the IFE’s 24-year history. Rebecca McLouth, MFV Expositions Marketing Coordinator, spoke to TFM about the event.

For the fourth year in a row, more than 400 exhibitors gathered at the Javits Center, where prospective business owners and entrepreneurs met face-to-face with a combination of well-established and emerging franchises to learn about new concepts and expansion opportunities both domestically and internationally. Connecting thousands of eager prospects directly with representatives of these highly reputable franchise concepts at the ground level, the IFE had visitors from across the United States as well as Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

With over 40 officially escorted investment delegations, the IFE is now considered by many to be the world’s most significant franchising event.

The International Franchise Association (IFA) reports that the franchise industry, a major contributor to the U.S. economy, is expected to create approximately 247,000 new jobs in 2015; the gross domestic product (GDP) of the franchise sector is projected to increase by 5.4 per cent to $889 billion – a sure sign for a highly successful expo.

An official ribbon cutting ceremony kicked off the IFE with special remarks delivered by a variety of speakers including Melanie Bergeron, Chair of the Board for Two Men and a Truck and Chairwoman of the IFA, and Scott Lehr, CFE, Senior Vice President of the IFA. Attendees also heard from successful multi-unit franchise owners who shared their inspiring stories and franchising journeys, such as Greg Carafello, a multi-unit franchise owner of Cartridge World, who re-established his business after losing his company headquarters on the 18th floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower on September 11, 2001.

Instilled with inspiration, expo-goers delved into an event designed to energise and further educate their entrepreneurial spirits throughout the weekend with free seminars offering more than 70 topics and 11 in-depth symposia.

Topics spanned the spectrum of franchising from the very basics, to ways of obtaining financing and increasing customer base.

On the convention floor, exhibitors featured new innovative restaurant and hospitality concepts along with a growing number of service franchises ranging from home improvement and pet care to cleaning and travel. In addition, franchise concepts looking to expand overseas and international brands ready to penetrate the U.S. market gave the convention floor an international flair and further proved that franchising is becoming a dominant force worldwide.

More master licenses are purchased at the IFE than anywhere else, and with 122 countries represented and 40 international delegations, this expo has become the meeting place for franchises looking to sell their master license internationally.

“The international aspect of the expo is just as vital to us as the quality and diversity of exhibitors,” said Tom Portesy, President and CEO of MFV Expositions. “Through assembling pre-eminent leaders in the industry, we provide them a platform to share their valuable insight, aiming to generate thought-provoking ideas and strategies for both prospective business owners and seasoned multi-unit franchise owners.”

This year, more than 28 per cent of attendees planned to invest between $100,000 and $499,999. Whether single unit, area developers, or multi-unit buyers, expo visitors were well educated, engaged and serious about taking the next step in the franchise industry.

“The IFE was a huge success for us this year,” said Mark Whittle, Vice President of Franchise Development for Hooters. “For the past three years we have found the IFE to be a great networking show for both international and domestic franchise candidates, and have engaged with multiple leads derived from our attendance at the show. In addition, the expo provides a great networking opportunity with numerous U.S. Commercial Service agents from around the world to help develop connections in targeted international markets.”

The IFE is endorsed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and promoted worldwide as part of its International Buyers Program. More than 150 U.S. embassies through its foreign commercial service offices actively promote the IFE within its regions and bring official escorted delegations from all around the world to the expo. Over the years, the IFE has been a significant catalyst to the global expansion of franchising.

“The exposition was a great show -- very well organized and had great traffic,” said Glenn Tucker, Director of International and Non-Traditional Development for Booster Juice. “In addition, everyone at the IFE was so helpful and supportive. This is one of the best franchise shows by far!”

The extensive press and media coverage played a key role in the show’s roaring success. In the weeks leading up to the event and during the event itself, exhibitors were given opportunities to get their brands in front of consumers and investors beyond the show floor. Media interest in the show was at an all-time high with attendance and coverage from Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Fast Casual, Bloomberg Advantage, the Washington Post, Franchise Times, Entrepreneur, Franchising World, Franchise Update, The Street, Queens Chronicle, the Stamford Advocate and more.

Next year’s IFE will be held June 16-18, 2016, at the Javits Center. For more information, please fill in the form below and you'll be sent out all further details.