Maximise your franchise exhibition experience

A franchise exhibition is an excellent opportunity to see a large range of franchises together – all competing for your attention. Cathryn Hayes, Head of Franchising at HSBC, provides her starter for 10 to help you make the most of your visit

You have been considering that you might like to go into business on your own and are aware that franchising is among the most successful means to achieve this goal. After seeing a franchise exhibition advertised, you are now wondering whether it is worth spending a day there and how can you make the most of it.

HSBC’s top 10 tips for getting the best out of a franchise exhibition:

1. Plan your day
Exhibition days usually run from 10am until 5pm so if you plan ahead, you should have plenty of time to talk to a wide range of franchisors and professional advisors, as well as take in a seminar or two.

2. Read the exhibition catalogue
Each exhibitor will be featured, so use the catalogue to plan your time at the show and make sure that you visit the stands that you are interested in.

3. Talk to the bfa
Official exhibitions are sponsored by the British Franchise Association (bfa), which offers an excellent information pack that includes a full list of the current membership, as well as guidance about choosing and researching a franchise. The bfa runs free seminars throughout the show, providing excellent advice about how to become a franchise owner and what you need to consider.

4. Speak to the professionals
Exhibitions give you a great chance to speak to professionals including lawyers and banks, whose stands are wellsprings of invaluable guidance.

5. Chat to a range of franchisors
If you already have a leaning towards a particular franchise or type of business, this could well be an ideal opportunity to compare other franchises in the same market sector. The approach a franchisor takes to the business of exhibiting and the way they deal with you as a visitor can give important clues about how well you might work with them.

6. Examine your strengths and weaknesses
Do you have particular skills that will help in your chosen franchise? Are there areas in which you lack skills and expertise and does the franchisor provide training and back-up to help you overcome these weaknesses? Do you have an adequate cash stake and security to enable you to finance your chosen franchise?

7. Don’t sign up for anything
Taking up a franchise is likely to be one of the most important decisions in your life and that of your family. However enthusiastic you are, don’t be rushed – do your homework. Be wary of franchisor pressure to sign up, particularly of the ‘if you don’t sign now, you won’t get another opportunity’ variety.

8. Give a good impression
Remember a franchisor will also be assessing you to ensure that you have the skills and personal abilities to become a successful franchise owner. A good franchisor will reject many more people than they accept so you will want to come across well.

9. Be wary of hype
It can be easy to get carried away with stories of how wonderful an opportunity is and how much money is there to be made. A good franchisor will tell you some of the down sides as well.

10. Wear comfortable shoes
Franchise exhibitions can be long days!

Come and visit us at The National Franchise Exhibition at the NEC Birmingham, October 5-6 at Stand J60.