On 14 and 15 February, the greatest franchise exhibition of the year was held in the ExCel Exhibition Centre, London.
We just couldn't miss it, and three members of our sales team (Ann-Marie, Lillie and Brian) travelled from Franchise Direct's European Head Offices in Dublin to set up stand and converse with franchise clients and potential franchisees. Here UK editor Ann-Marie gives us a day-by-day report on the whirlwind trip that they enjoyed so much.
Following a hearty breakfast in Dublin Airport, we had a quick flight into Heathrow. As we had a whistle-stop taxi tour through London we couldn't help but admire its palaced, bridged and parliamented features, despite having seen them all before.
After checking into our hotel in the Docklands, we dashed over to ExCel's large hall to set up our booth. It was across from the stand of hair removal franchise No+Vello, and just behind Auditel, the UK and Ireland’s leading cost, purchase and supplier management franchise. Our booth included three snap-up stands, a desk, two chairs, 50 brochures for franchisors, and a few hundred informative flyers for franchisees. It also featured a charming little video on a large screen behind us, summarising all the services that Franchise Direct can offer franchisors and franchisees alike:
We were ready to begin! So then it was out to dinner reservations and sushi.
At 8:30am the next morning we manned our booth, getting acquainted with our area as the public visitors came flooding in. Visitors were well-educated, with a knowledgeable grasp of franchising.
Lillie and Ann-Marie at the Franchise Direct Booth
We had a steady stream of current or future franchisees interested in asking us what Franchise Direct was about. Many were initially surprised that we weren’t ‘selling’ anything and became intrigued when we explained that we are a large, global database of franchise information.
There was an excellent show of exhibitors, and we exchanged news with many franchisors such as the web development company Internet Creation, who have a profile on our UK site. It was of course the day of Saint Valentine, and No+Vello had a seemingly endless supply of pink, red and white Valentine’s themed sweets. One of their marketing representatives even gave me a bag.
Speaking of candy, Tubz also had a huge presence at the Franchise Show. Not only was their stand thronged, but they had Mr Tubz (a gentleman in a giant sweet tub suit) walking around the show all day Friday and Saturday, handing out Tubz bags. Almost every potential franchisee I saw ended up with a Tubz bag – it was a great marketing and advertising tool.
There were drinks after the show for exhibitors, who drank wine and networked. Later on Valentine’s fireworks went off over the Thames – exploding into red, expanding hearts. Pretty!
On Saturday the wide halls of the convention centre were totally packed due to all of the shows that were on. It was slightly busier for the Franchise Show too, with more foot traffic past the booth. We spent much time handing out flyers explaining what Franchise Direct UK has to offer people who are browsing the internet and looking for franchise information.
"We met with many start-up franchisors who are coming on board. This is a good sign of growth in the industry."
Brian Rogan, Franchise Direct UK and Ireland Sales Director
My colleague Brian Rogan dedicated a few hours to speaking to the small number of the franchises at the exhibition who weren’t Franchise Direct clients at the time, telling them about the packages we have to offer franchisors advertising on our sites. To get in touch with Brian, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The screen was a huge success, catching eyes and leading to several visitors commenting on how great it looked.
"Busy, busy, busy!"
Lillie Burrough, Franchise Direct Business Administrator
After giving out flyers and brochures galore, we set about packing up our booth. With our cases and snap-up stands in tow, we trundled over to the Tube line. Three trains, two transfers and an hour and a half later and we were finally checking in. Our flight was delayed due to the storms the previous day, but we were all back home again at a decent hour on Saturday night.
The Franchise Show was bustling work for the UK team, but a great opportunity to meet with the Franchise Direct clients on our UK site, and to introduce new people to the franchises that we advertise and that they can potentially invest in.