This morning I visited the Brisbane Franchise Expo.

In days gone by, I used to exhibit at Franchise Expos in all the major cities in Australia, both as a franchisor looking for new recruits and as a consultant looking for prospective franchisors. I recollect huge halls with at least 150 exhibitors, thousands of visitors and very busy days talking to all the new prospects. Followed by crowded seminars each evening.

So, join me in the queue on Saturday with only ten of us waiting to enter the Brisbane Franchising Expo at 10:00 this morning, and you might have also wondered if this heavily promoted event was really representative of the mighty franchise industry. And my observation was that every one of us had obtained a free ticket online rather than pay the $15 at the door!

Fast forward an hour and you will have circulated all the stands, mingled with the sparse number of visitors and seen a total of only around 40 franchisors displaying their product – and noted that a further dozen or so exhibitors were magazine publishers, government departments, industry body Franchise Council of Australia and several consultants and brokers.

If you were collecting evidence to prove that franchising recruitment efforts are seriously online, then this was it. The fact that there were less than ten offerings from franchisors you would possibly recognise is the proof in the pudding. And the remaining stands were dominated by start-ups and fairly new franchises – some of questionable interest to the majority of people attending.

“Yes,” as one exhibitor confided in me, “If you want to recruit franchisees, there are other more cost-effective options. Exhibiting here is an expense of many thousands of dollars you can invest elsewhere in your business with far better returns.” And he went on to question why he was still attending after 20 years of shows. Old habits die hard!

And then by midday, when you saw that many of the exhibitors were chatting among themselves rather than to visitors (because there were none), it was clear the view that the heady days of expos with scores of exhibitors and literally thousands of attendees is well past. I was just relieved that I wasn’t the event promoter.

Of course I may be totally wrong – but I know where I’d be I investing my recruitment dollars. It wouldn’t be at a Franchise Expo. To see what I mean look at Seek Commercial and Franchise Buyer.

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