Tatyana Aguirre currently serves as a Senior International Trade Assistant for the Irvine U.S. Export Assistance Center in California
When you work as an international trade assistant for Global Franchise Team Leader Kristin Houston, there is never dull moment. Today is the final day for the first ever franchising trade mission to India and as I look back, I see the efforts of trade specialists from around the globe who made this five-day, three-city mission possible.
As we began recruitment efforts for the U.S. Franchising Trade Mission to India, I soon learned that expectations were very high on both ends. We had high expectations for bringing highly notable and recognizable U.S. companies to India and U.S. firms expected to make strategic partnerships with the right people in India.
Recruitment involved outreach to clients who had a franchising concept desired in India. Working with our team in India, we concluded that a majority of the expected growth will be in the food & beverage, wellness, and education sectors.
Initially, capacity for the mission was for 12 U.S. franchisers to participate in this unprecedented opportunity based on a first-come basis and those with the greatest probability of success. But as applications from some of the most globally known brands, such as Denny’s, Johnny Rocket’s, Applebee’s, and Wendy’s, came in, we knew we had to extend it to 15. Once the final participants were chosen, we collected company profiles and global investor criteria for each firm to ensure that we could arrange appropriate and productive meetings for them with investors who would meet their expectation and desires.
We prepared U.S. firms participating in this Trade Mission to India by providing them with the Country Commercial Guide for India, which are prepared annually by U.S. embassies with the assistance of several U.S. government agencies. These reports present a comprehensive look at countries’ commercial environments, using economic, political and market analysis. We also provided them with market industry reports on the franchising market in India as well as an Intellectual Property Rights Toolkit. Representatives also received a cultural & business etiquette guide to prepare them for doing business in India as well as airline flight and hotel suggestions with preferential pricing, and arranged ground transportation. But most importantly, we scheduled conference calls with our team in India, local trade specialists, and each client to discuss strategy for entering India.
Expectations of the U.S. firms participating were to build qualified and critical partnerships with key players in the Indian market. And through it all, I am happy to report that we exceeded all expectations. Through this mission, we provided more than 300 one-on-one meetings with prospective investors, launched a nation-wide advertising campaign, arranged lucrative networking events with franchisees, site visits to strategic franchisee outlets and locations, and provided first hand opportunity to assess the real potential in India.
It took a global team and months of hard work to pull this mission together, however, this is just the beginning. Most firms on the mission will come back with dozens of prospective contacts and business interest and maybe when you visit Mumbai or Hyderabad, you can dine on an all-American burger at Johnny Rocket’s.