Making the most of an exhibition visit

A franchise exhibition can be an exciting, albeit daunting, day out. The Franchise Magazine takes a closer look at the best ways for prospective franchise owners to make the most of their visit.

Exhibitions represent an excellent launch pad for those considering investing in a franchise. After all, it is at such an event where, under one roof, you are guaranteed to discover literally hundreds of franchisors showcasing their business opportunities to potential new investors.

Understandably, as a prospective franchise owner, such a gathering of so many franchisors may at first prove somewhat overwhelming. The key to making the most of your visit is to maintain a clear head, remembering at all times that attending a franchise exhibition should be considered a part of your franchise research, not all of it.

Prior to attending the exhibition, you should plan your day, listing what you ideally aim to identify a number of promising opportunities that may warrant further investigation after the event, and to meet and gain an impression of the management of those franchises in question, while retaining a level of detachment sufficient to avoid being swept up in the hype and enthusiasm.

Remember, also, that not every franchise opportunity you come across will be right for you, even if it falls within your investment budget and the franchisor makes it sound like a perfect fit. The more astute exhibition visitor will set aside a whole day to visit as many stands and talk to as many franchisors as possible.

Try to set aside enough time when you arrive to carefully study the exhibition catalogue. This will allow you to identify, straight away, the brands you really want to see, before making your way around the hall. By doing so, you should leave the event satisfied in the knowledge that you have gained an accurate picture of the range of franchises you wish to explore further.

Face-to-face

A meeting between a potential franchise owner and franchisor should always be treated as a two-way interview, during which both parties will be assessing each other as potential partners in a franchise relationship. As such, you must endeavour to maintain a balanced approach to the conversation throughout.

While you are probing someone from the franchise’s management team for more information, they too will be conducting research of their own, by gauging your suitability as a franchise owner.

In order to be best prepared, arm yourself with a list of important questions, aimed at acquiring the necessary information you want about the opportunity. In the meantime, it is the aim of the management team member to swiftly evaluate you and your suitability, with upfront questions, and to filter out those with vague answers about money.

It is possible they may misread your intentions and not class you as a genuine prospect, in which case they will then likely ask you to fill in a registration card for possible follow-up, rather than devote their time explaining their franchise. If your interest in the opportunity is sincere, make it clear and ensure that you are provided with the attention you deserve.

Watch and learn

The vast majority of exhibitions will feature accompanying seminars, delivered by experts and designed to educate visitors about the various aspects of franchising.

Subjects such as,‘An introduction to franchising’, ‘What to consider when choosing a franchise’ and ‘How to successfully franchise your business’ are all likely to be covered in great depth, with each seminar typically lasting around an hour.

Many franchisors view the return on their investment in an exhibition as a significant amount of registered interest in their brand. This usually comes in the form of a list of leads to follow up on, with a percentage going on to be ‘converted’ by investing in the franchise. No franchisor should really be seeking to sign franchise owners up at the exhibition itself.

Weigh up your options

Approached in the correct way, franchise exhibitions are valuable and often fun ways to gain access to the people involved with the franchises available and to secure the information you need to properly consider the opportunity being presented. By the end of the exhibition you will be returning home with an arm full of brochures and promotional literature that you can read through, while considering your next step.

By combining what you have learned from the exhibition with the research you will have carried out on the internet, and through reading this magazine, you should now find yourself in a position whereby you have enough information to start identifying the business opportunities that interest you most.