Franchise Expo South: The Art of Networking to Drive Franchise Sales

The fifth annual Franchise Expo South held in Miami Beach, Florida will run from January 14-16, 2011 and is set to attract thousands of prospects considering franchising as their path to business independence.

With some of the top franchisors in the industry confirmed to exhibit, potential candidates will have the opportunity to search among some of the best brands from around the world to see if their system is the right fit. With the International Franchise Association, sponsor of Franchise Expo South, predicting a modest upturn in franchising establishments in 2011, now is the perfect time to get directly in front of prospects to deliver your message.

While rapid advances in technology have allowed franchisors to touch prospects in a multitude of new ways, the power of face-to-face networking at trade shows such as Franchise Expo South is still one of the best ways to achieve franchise sales.

“Every type of lead generation tool we use plays an important role in achieving our goals, but once you can stand face-to-face and have a conversation with a prospect – someone who is looking to have questions answered – that is the best way to qualify a lead,” explains Charles Gilbert, Director Emerging Markets for Choice Hotels International. “Access to capital is one of the obstacles in the franchise business but I’ve found, especially at Franchise Expo South, there are people who have the liquidity and net worth to open a Choice Hotel brand in the South of America.”

However, franchise sales don’t happen automatically. It takes skilled networking and the development of a strong connection with a prospect in order to move them towards signing a commitment. Many people think networking is something you do only when you want something, but it could be argued that it is a life skill mastered over time and through practise.

Great networkers make a heart-to-heart connection with people when they talk to them. They listen with their minds as well as their ears and are totally focused on the person in front of them, regardless whether they rank as potential prospect, vendor, friend or colleague. A good networker at a franchise show realises every person they connect with forms an integral part of the puzzle, because every acquaintance has the potential to become a connection.

The more people you know, the more people you can influence. At Franchise Expo South, thousands of prospects from across South Florida, Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to attend and meet directly with hundreds of the most accomplished franchise systems from around the world.

For franchisors, it means an incredible opportunity to speak directly with South Florida and international candidates about the benefits of franchising.

However, one of the quickest ways to damage your reputation and ruin a potential sale is by treating the connections you develop as only having short-term value. One of the greatest results is building a strong connection with a prospect that not only trusts you, but also genuinely believes in the integrity of your brand. If you create a true connection and establish a bond of trust with a prospect, it is natural for them to speak highly of you within their own networks.

A master networker understands the power of making an impression, because the easier you make it for people to remember you and your brand, the more positive your impact and influence can be with that person. This kind of networking at Franchise Expo South is what will allow you to increase your brand awareness and stand above the rest in an especially competitive selling environment.

As technology drives communication even further ahead through email, mobile technology and social media, it is clear face-to-face networking has become more important than ever. Master networkers influence prospects and can take your organisation to the next level. Franchise Expo South provides an incomparable venue to get your brand name in front of not only the local South Florida community, but also to international candidates interested in starting their own business.

“We spoke with over 150 candidates on the first day of the last Franchise Expo South and found the quality of these prospects to be excellent,” said Nick Bruckner, Vice President of Sales for Sign-A-Rama.

“Our other brands, including EmbroidMe and Plan Ahead Events saw similar results and we’re extremely satisfied with the quantity and, more importantly, the quality of leads from the expo.”

From restaurants to professional services, educational and in-home franchises, among others, exhibiting at Franchise Expo South can deliver great benefits for an established as well as emerging brand.

Reported by Joel Goldstein

Franchise Expo South (USA)