New York – franchise city

Joel Goldstein, of MFV Expositions, advises that to make the most of a visit to the International Franchise Expo on June 15-17, you should start listing your objectives now.

Exhibitions prove to be a solid approach to establishing relationships and solidifying success in the franchise industry. With a variety of exhibitions held across the world specifically for those interested in franchising, it’s often difficult to filter out exactly which events are the most valuable. While each exhibition has its benefits, it’s important to keep your goals and needs in mind when deciding which are worthy of investing your time and effort.

That is especially true for this summer’s International Franchise Expo (IFE), where for over 20 years, entrepreneurs, business leaders and franchise owners have gathered at the nation’s capital for one of the largest franchise events in the country.

This year the exhibition is being taken to the next level, welcoming exhibitors and visitors to one of the most dynamic international cities in the USA – New York City. While exhibiting this year, remember that doing business in NYC is no different than doing business in Washington D.C. Except of course that this is New York City – where you’ll be able to connect with thousands of new prospects – from North America and around the world.

Exhibiting at a show like the IFE requires an investment of time and effort, so it is essential to take full advantage of what the IFE can offer you. This year’s event may be in a new venue, the Javits Center, and new location, NYC, but that doesn’t mean you need a new agenda to experience the same success at the show.

Preparation is key

Many of the most successful exhibitors plan their trade show strategy ahead of time. Ensure that your franchise development team understands the underlying goal you are trying to achieve, whether it is following up with previous leads, acquiring new leads, networking with other franchisors in your industry, etc. Perhaps you have multiple goals for this show and that works too, as long as each member on your team understands their role. Trade shows are a unique sales environment requiring quick lead generation techniques geared toward visitors with limited time and attention.

Be sure to co-ordinate a team of people who positively reflect your brand and who are capable of delivering your message concisely and professionally. If it is necessary to train new members specifically for this event, be sure they fully understand your concept before putting them on the exhibition floor.

Your development team should be aware of how unique and important events like the IFE are for lead and sales opportunities. The majority of visitors already have an interest in the industry, presenting an opportune time to use all your team’s skills and experience to showcase your brand.

Make an impression

Just as the new location of the IFE shouldn’t have an impact on the technique you use to generate franchise leads and sales, it is essential to make a quality impression on the visitors passing by your stand. Visitors spend hours, sometimes days at these shows digesting information from hundreds of franchise opportunities. The average exhibition visitor will spend seven to eight hours on the floor over a period of two to three days. They go to shows for several reasons and it is important to try and make the best impression, especially on visitors that are still in the early stages of exploring franchise concepts and the business direction they would like to take.

Because visitors are being overloaded with information from hundreds of franchisors, it is critical to hold their attention for as long as possible, once you have it. Everyone is a prospective lead – especially if they offer even five minutes of their time to talk to you. Extend those five minutes as long as you can so the visitor can discover exactly what your concept has to offer and how they can benefit by learning more about the brand even after the show is over.

Much of the impression you create will come from the appearance of your stand display. A new city and venue may require a new stand layout. Highlight the main points of your offerings instead of overloading the stand with pamphlets, information packets, signage and trinkets. An organised, clean stand will attract more attention, allowing you to pull the visitor in to give them more information.

Follow-up

Closing an exhibition is no different in Washington D.C. as it is in New York City – when the event is over, it is time to roll up your sleeves and get busy with the real work. You cannot rely on candidates to follow-up with you after the show, even if they’ve expressed prior interest in your franchise. As part of your planning and preparation process, speak to your development team about the process you plan to use to follow-up with leads after the show. Putting a strategy in place will ensure that nothing slips through the cracks and all leads are addressed timely and efficiently.

On that note, it is important to have a system to keep track of your leads as time goes on. You want to be sure that the exhibition be worth your time and investment and will need a system to track the leads back to the show. IFE offers every exhibitor the opportunity to scan visitor badges and keep track of introductions.

There will be one major difference between the IFE in Washington D.C. and the IFE in NYC. A recent waiver by the New York Attorney General’s Office now allows all franchise companies to apply for a waiver to showcase their brand at this exhibition, regardless of their registration status in the state. All franchisors can apply for the ‘Trade Show Exemption’ status, which is great news for franchises looking to do business internationally. This allows franchisors to attend the IFE and promote their opportunity only during trade show hours and on the exhibition floor.

However, the sale of the franchise is still prohibited until formal registration with the state takes place. For those concepts that are toying with the idea of international expansion, remember to cover all your bases on the idea before diving right in. It’s for companies who are really committed to it as it involves investment of time, effort, people and capital, and while leads from foreign countries can be tempting, you should not rush in.

While doing business in NYC, remember to use the exhibition to your fullest advantage, preparing properly and following-up promptly. The quality of leads you’ll receive at a franchise exhibition are second to none and you’ll want to invest your time and money wisely into events like the IFE.