You may have got the impression from my last blog that I’m not the greatest fan of franchise exhibitions… and you would be entirely right.
I still go to at least two of the four shows that are held across England and Scotland every year. I have meetings with customers, have a look about and, hopefully, start new relationships.
Over the past couple of years I’ve been getting more and more despondent as numbers of franchisors exhibiting has declined and the quality of potential franchisees coming to have a look has decreased. So much so that I very nearly didn’t go last week.
I have to say, though, that this year things were different. I arrived at the show at 10 O’clock, when the doors opened and was in the show by 10.30.
The place was already full of people. The number of exhibitors seemed to be up and the number of visitors was definitely higher at that early hour than usual. The exhibitors also reported that the people coming to talk with them were genuinely interested and not just speculative browsers.
Great stuff, but let’s try to isolate why this positive reaction might be.
I’ve been blogging for some time that a recession is good for franchising and, indeed, franchisors’ pipelines have been bulging for a year or more. The problem is that the banks weren’t lending except to a few, very well established, franchisors.
But things have changed a little bit.
We are reading almost every day that the recession is easing, if not over and the banks certainly seem to be cautiously open for business again. The thing is, though, real life always lags behind the economy a bit. This means that, even though we’re into something like recovery, people are still being made redundant.
Unemployment is on the way up, which has fuelled an upsurge in interest in franchising. That bit hasn’t changed.
The difference between now and the beginning of the year is that the banks are also in recovery mode and they are prepared to lend to franchisees who can demonstrate the strength and depth of their business plans and franchisor.
Whichever way you look at it, franchising could be set for a bumper year.
But would I recommend a client to exhibit at one of these shows…?
Well, still, no. But credit where credit is due. It was a good show.