Franchise exhibitions are practically paradise for prospective business owners.
You can learn about up-and-coming franchise opportunities, engage in free seminars and lectures from industry veterans, and interface with like-minded entrepreneurs.
However, these behemoths can also be incredibly daunting in their sheer scale. With dozens or hundreds of different franchise booths to explore, how do you separate the sound from the noise?
Well, you’ll need a bit of research, notetaking, and a lot of preparation. We’ve compiled four key tips to help you make the most of your next franchise exhibition.
1. Go In With A Game Plan
Many people allow franchise exhibitions to pass them by due to one avoidable mistake — lack of preparation.
With the bright lights and plethora of opportunities available, it’s easy to feel like a deer in headlights.
Nearly all franchise exhibitions publish their franchise directory weeks ahead of the event. Carve out some time in the days leading up to the event to glance through the show catalogue.
Highlight the exhibitors you know you’d like to visit and underline those that pique your interest.
If you’re seeking a low-cost franchise opportunity, then you probably don’t want to spend too much time around big players that require a hefty minimum investment. Research allows you to spend your limited time wisely.
Better yet, go into the franchise exhibition with a measurable goal in mind. For instance, I’d like to finish each day of the franchise exhibition with at least two franchise disclosure documents.
This might seem daunting as franchisors usually only offer disclosures to qualified prospective franchisees. However, this could be just the fire you need to make a lasting first impression on the brands you care about.
2. Prepare Questions And Form Connections
Building off your existing game plan, you should prepare half a dozen questions for every brand you’re interested in.
You can start with some useful stock questions like:
- What are the franchise fees and average startup costs for a new franchisee?
- Does the franchise offer comprehensive training programs or support systems?
- Does a new franchisee choose where to locate their business, or is that decision made for them by the franchisor?
- Are there any patterns you’ve observed in franchisees that don’t find success?
While these stock questions can offer you a great deal of information about the business, some of that information might already be available online or in a brochure.
Remember to listen to each representative carefully and ask personalised questions about their experience as an entrepreneur and within the franchise:
- What’s the company culture like?
- Do you have direct contact with the CEO or headquarters?
- Were there any mistakes you made along the way? How would you rectify them today?
These are conversations that you’re rarely exposed to over the phone, so make use of your in-person advantage.
When you’re ready to move on to the next booth, ask for business cards or contact information from anyone you strike up a conversation with. You never know when it might come in handy.
3. Keep An Open Mind
Franchise exhibitions are a perfect time to realise opportunities you might not have considered before.
Maybe you thought you want a home-based franchise, but during the show, you realise that a van-based franchise is more up your alley. Or perhaps you were convinced that you needed a low-cost franchise, but you stumbled across a brand like Snap-On Tools that offers low-cost business loans through their in-house bank.
You have to keep an open mind and allow yourself to consider other possibilities. Otherwise, you’re missing out on the benefits of serendipity.
So, block out the majority of your day with franchises that you researched and prepared questions for. This ensures that you’re spending most of your day purposefully and intentionally.
However, make sure to leave an hour or two free so that you’re able to explore franchises that you didn’t even know you’d be interested in.
4. Don’t Forget To Follow Up
Alright, so you made the most of a franchise exhibition. You crafted your questions and formed connections. Now comes the final but most important stage — the follow-up.
Read through the documents and notes you’ve collected, and schedule a time to chat further with representatives of brands that intrigued you the most.
Once you’re further along in the process, you can open up discussions with a franchise attorney, get your finances in order with your accountant, and submit your application to become a new franchisee.
This process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, so don’t get discouraged.
If you have multiple franchises that you’re interested in, submit multiple applications. This improves the odds that you’ll be approved for an opportunity you care about.
Mark Your Calendar For National Franchise Exhibition 2022
Franchise exhibitions can be invigorating, but they can also be plenty intimidating.
Whether you’re thinking of attending the National Franchise Exhibition 2022 in Birmingham or the 2023 British & International Franchise Exhibition in London, you’ll find somewhat of a familiar scene: hundreds of established and up-and-coming brands all crammed into a convention centre.
For the uninitiated, it might seem impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff. The secret is to slow down. Look at your franchise directory, pop the cap off your highlighter, and start whittling down your options.
When you approach each booth, ask questions, form connections, and keep an open mind. If you follow these steps, you’ll leave each franchise exhibition feeling more knowledgeable and more exhilarated for the future.
As you’re gearing up for other steps in your franchise-owning journey, browse our Tips and Advice page to learn what to do if you’re struggling to find the right franchise and whether you need financial help to secure your first franchise.