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Expo South's Big Pitch

Expo South's Big PitchFor many franchise owners, Franchise Expo South at the Miami Beach Convention Center is one of the most important industry shows of the year, allowing them to pitch their businesses to prospective franchisees.

“The reason we do this show is because we’re strong in South Florida,” said Jaime Remond, national sales director for Hollywood-based OXXO Care Cleaners, an environmentally friendly dry cleaner and laundromat franchise. “Every year, we sell stores from the show.”

OXXO has had an exhibition at Expo South for each of the show’s three years. When the fourth annual show takes place Jan. 15-17, OXXO is scheduled to be there again.

The 2009 expo attracted about 225 exhibitors from 38 countries and more than 8,600 visitors, said Joel Goldstein, group marketing director for MFV Expositions, the Paramus, N.J.-based company that owns the expo. In late December, Goldstein said he was expecting about 200 exhibitors for the 2010 event.

Expo South is one of three major shows MFV produces, Goldstein said. The others are in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. Expo South caters to the southeastern U.S., as well as foreign visitors who may want to open a franchise in Latin America or the Caribbean, Goldstein said.

Franchise growth in Latin America

Latin America is experiencing robust growth in franchising, which makes Expo South increasingly more important, noted Alisa Harrison, spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C,-based International Franchise Association, which promotes the expo for MFV. Brazil, for instance, is expected to have a 14.5 percent increase in sales of franchise units in 2010, she said.

“International business is one big reason we do this show in Miami,” said Ray Titus, CEO of West Palm Beach-based United Franchise Group. “Some of the biggest [Latin American] markets are still available.”

United Franchise is the holding company for five franchise brands, including Signarama and EmbroidMe. Among all its brands, United Franchise has about 1,400 stores in 55 countries and about $500 million in systemwide sales, Titus said.

United Franchise has exhibited at Expo South every year, and it plans to exhibit four of its brands at the 2010 show, Titus said. The company has sold franchises every year at the expo, he noted.

Exhibitors pay about $4,400 for a 10-by-10 booth. Larger booths are available for more money, Goldstein said.

For the whole weekend, tickets cost the general public $30, but the expo offers many free tickets through promotional campaigns, he said.

Seminars offer insights

Potential franchise owners can rub elbows with exhibitors, and attend seminars that cover topics such as how to finance a franchise.

For prospective franchisees, the expo offers the best opportunity to learn about a franchise because of the interpersonal contact, Goldstein said.

Because of tight lending and the economy, the past year has been very challenging for prospective franchisees, Goldstein said. Even so, significant interest remains because of the well-established franchise model and the fact that many who are out of work want to go into business for themselves.

“Franchising is a great way to get into your own business,” Titus said.

Source: New feed