This year’s International Franchise Exposition (IFE), arranged by Kagiso Exhibitions under the auspices of FASA, took place from May 4-6 at the Sandton Convention Centre. The event has a proud tradition of becoming bigger and better every year and this year was no exception. Visitors came in record numbers and had an opportunity to link up with more than 120 exhibitors including franchisors, purveyors of business opportunities, financiers and professional advisors.
From the moment the exhibition opened its doors at 10h00 am to closing time at 18h00 each day, the place was positively humming and even the on-site restaurant did a roaring trade. For the first time, exhibition space exceeded 16002 and visitors soon came to realise the soundness of the organiser’s advice to wear comfortable shoes. However, quantity means nothing unless it is backed by quality and it is at this level that IFE 2006 excelled.
Operating from visually attractive stands, exhibitor representatives offered visitors valuable information and much food for thought regarding the wisdom of entering the world of entrepreneurship by investing in a franchise. Moreover, seminars, workshops and informal presentations that were arranged as part of the exhibition familiarised visitors with the concept of franchising and especially the soundness of the slogan becoming a franchisee means being in business for yourself but not by yourself.
Wide range of opportunities
Franchises covering a wide range of interests and investment levels, for example fast food outlets, restaurants, stationery retailing, real estate and letting agencies, business-to-business services, automotive services and many other sectors were on offer. Business opportunities including personal grooming, pet care, home maintenance and several others offered entry-level business opportunities.
Three of the major banks as well as attorneys and consultants were on hand to give visitors sound advice on topics ranging from securing finance to the intricacies of a franchise agreement.
Business owners who were considering the expansion of their businesses through franchising were most impressed with the quality of the instant advice they received. At the same time, many valuable relationships for follow-up at a later stage were formed.
Franchise Association of Southern Africa (FASA)
FASA’s stand was undoubtedly one of the focal points of the exhibition. As it is this organisation’s mission to uphold ethics in franchising, it was not surprising that most visitors made it their first port of call. They were hoping to receive impartial advice and the feedback we received suggests that they were not disappointed.
FASA’s team of enthusiastic advisors was ready, willing and able to answer most of the visitors’ questions. Judging by the sheer number of books on franchising sold at the FASA stand, most visitors went away with the resolve to investigate the franchise sector further. This is important because it means that they are more likely to base their decision to become franchisees or franchisors on sound facts rather than hype and unrealistic expectations. This bodes well for the development of the sector in future.
One newcomer to this year’s IFE that attracted much interest was whichfranchise.co.za. This is a web site offering free information on franchising and franchise opportunities and is primarily aimed at prospective franchisees. However, both prospective and established franchisors will find the site of interest as well. In addition to providing information on the benefits and pitfalls of franchising, it lists a large and continuously growing number of sound franchise opportunities. It is also the only known source of information for franchise re-sales in South Africa.
The concept was developed in the UK but was launched locally under licence. To ensure its relevancy to the local market, the site has been totally ‘South Africanised’ and can be accessed by visiting whichfranchise.co.za
The launch of the site, which coincided with the opening of the IFE, was hosted by Absa and attended by whichfranchise’s director of international expansion, Doug Wilkie and marketing manager Suzanne Donald. Both these experienced world travellers were most impressed with the professionalism and vibrancy of the local franchise scene and indicated that they would return soon to help ensure that whichfranchise.co.za becomes South Africa’s premier portal for quality franchise information.