International Franchise Expo Musings

Ian Ritter is Online Content Manager at GRS Group

Ian Ritter is Online Content Manager at GRS Group

There are quite a few people out there betting a boatload of money that you are in love with frozen yogurt and will continue your affair for the foreseeable future.

This was evident last week at the International Franchise Expo in New York City, where frozen yogurt concepts, many of which I hadn’t seen (Pinkberry, Red Mango and 16 Handles weren’t present) were out in full force, handing out samples to long lines of attendees. Some of them were from overseas. Chillbox, from Greece; Llaollao showed up from Spain; and Yeh! came in from Montreal. Among the domestic concepts looking to expand were Forever Yogurt, TCBY (one of the few familiar brands) and Yogurt Zone.

The yogurt people had the most visible presence on the show floor, but interspersed with them were a variety of other interesting concepts.

Beef Jerky Outlet sells bins of not just beef jerky, but also alligator, ostrich, venison, and nearly everything else that crawls around, including bug snacks. The electronic cigarette people were out — Vapor Shark is looking to open retail stores, and they had competition at the show from Vapor Zone. Pinot’s Palette is a concept that provides adults art classes mixed with booze, and Kono Pizza sells pizza in a cone.

There were also some more familiar offerings for those looking to open a franchise, such as Denny’s, Golden Corral, Hooters, Sbarro and others.

Besides the dozens of exhibitors looking to expand concepts through new franchisee partnerships, educational sessions gave attendees words of advice on how to enter, and succeed in, the industry.

During one presentation, Andrew Sherman, a partner who specializes in franchising at at law firm Jones Day, said that today’s consumers demand an experience beyond a simple transaction and part of that is being able to identify and have a connection to a brand.

“At the end of the day, the brand is the most important part of the system” he said. “How do we get that out? How do we create that experience? That’s what it’s about here.”

Meanwhile, Eric Stiles, chief executive officer of Franchise Business Review, warned that people thinking about starting or taking on an existing franchise after retirement as a relaxing way to make easy money are in for a shocker. Besides the problem that two-thirds of concepts don’t go on to make a profit, franchisors will find themselves putting in 60 to 70 hours a week to succeed.

“You will work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life,” he warned.

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