Home-based services, from glass repair to plumbing leak specialists, are among the new franchise ventures that will be showcased during the annual International Franchise Expo, taking place May 18-20 at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
Between 12,000 and 15,000 attendees are expected at this year's event, according to Tom Portesy, vice-president of Mart Franchise Ventures Expositions of Paramus, New Jersey, producers of the expo.
"There's a very strong educational component, whether you're looking to buy a franchise or simply to expand an existing one," he says.
More than 300 of the nation's newest as well as long-established franchise concepts will be on exhibit, from the latest fast-food restaurants to mobile service companies offering everything from maid service to document shredding. Attendees also will participate in seminars on topics ranging from buying a franchise to obtaining a master license.
"As in the past, we expect the impressive exhibitor list and comprehensive conference program to attract people from throughout the United States and around the world," says Richard Maculuso, show director.
Last year, 70 percent of the nearly 13,000 attendees were from the United States, with the remainder from 92 other countries, according to organizers.
Among the new franchise trends visitors can expect to learn about is the increase in service business franchises, including those involving housecleaning, day care, and temporary personnel, says Therese Thilgen, president and editor of Franchise Update magazine, a national trade publication based in San Jose, California.
"Service businesses are still on the upswing because they offer convenience. Home cleaning is huge," says Ms. Thilgen. "So is the personnel industry, reflecting a big demand for temporary help. That's obviously due to the fact that we've had a low unemployment rate. Business is booming."
Another franchise area expected to see rapid growth in the near future is educational services, particularly tutoring for school-age children, Ms. Thilgen says.
"We're in an extremely competitive environment right now," she observes, adding that the demand for educational services is a testament to the poor performance of many of our schools, both public and private.
She also predicts continued demand for senior care centers, particularly as the elderly population increases.
All this bodes well for potential franchise owners, she believes. And minorities increasingly make up those franchisees. A recent Wells Fargo survey indicated that minorities, including Hispanics and African Americans, are the fastest-growing segment among small-business owners today.
"Companies want their franchisees to reflect the marketplace," Mr. Portesy says. "And so they may be more aggressive in recruiting minorities."
Franchises are increasingly offering services and products outside traditional fast-food operations, according to Mr. Portesy. "It used to be that 70 percent of franchises were in the food industry," he says. "Now it's closer to 30 percent."
Another trend is an increase in home-based franchise businesses, from janitorial to repair businesses, Mr. Portesy continues. Such franchises include Jani King, a business cleaning service; Doctor Vinyl, a vinyl repair service; and Novus, which offers windshield and other glass repairs.
"Consumers have the greatest amount of disposable income in history, but we have very little time to spend it," Mr. Portesy says. "Companies that save you time, by allowing you to do such things as having your oil changed at home, are growing."
In another shift, he says, some long-established companies are entering the franchise arena, including Howard Johnson's, which will be opening ice cream stores in the near future. The Coffee Beanery, another veteran company, is experiencing tremendous growth.
Owning a franchise business is often a lifestyle choice, Ms. Thilgen says. Potential owners usually want more control over their lives and lifestyles, so they choose to open a business of their own.
"It may not mean working fewer hours," she says. "But it all goes back to freedom. With franchising, you hit the ground running, with brand-name recognition, ground-level support, and training."
For more information about the International Franchise Expo, contact MFV Expositions at 888-872-2677 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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