Unmissable opportunities

This year, the organisers of The National Franchise Exhibition are promising their best event yet. As Birmingham’s NEC waits to greet franchise owners and potential investors, The Franchise Magazine investigates.

Every budding entrepreneur will find all they need to know to develop a career in franchising under one roof at The National Franchise Exhibition when it takes place at the NEC in Birmingham on 3rd and 4th October.

On-stand, face-to-face meetings with exhibitors, advisory clinic consultations with experts and fascinating seminars will all provide a huge range of exciting opportunities, helpful information and valuable advice.

Mubashar Saeed, a garage owner from Birmingham, attended the exhibition last year and said: “I have had an informative and enjoyable day. I often look up companies on the internet, but it makes such a difference to see them face-to-face and to have so many all under one roof is great. It’s definitely worth a visit.” Some of the companies looking to recruit new franchisees at The National Franchise Exhibition include Anytime Fitness, Baskin Robbins, Expense Reduction Analysis, Granite Transformations, Home Instead Senior Care, Platinum Property Partners, Mail Boxes Etc and McDonald’s, while NatWest and HSBC will also be on hand to discuss finance.

To make sure that visitors’ time at the exhibition is used to its full potential, they can take advantage of the pre-booked appointments system, allowing them to choose which exhibitors they want to see and at what time.

As well as all the fantastic franchise opportunities on offer, there is also a packed seminar programme running over the two days, which will provide information for every level of knowledge. Run in conjunction with the British Franchise Association (bfa), these talks and seminars are designed to help visitors focus their attention and evaluate their skills and interests before proceeding into the franchise market.

Linda Carter, a web content assistant from South Birmingham, attended last year’s event specifically for the seminar sessions. “I had researched franchising and knew a little bit before coming to the show. I also had some vague ideas about the type of business that would interest me, but I thought the seminars would be most helpful. The various experts confirmed and increased my understanding of what is involved. It really has been time well spent.”

One of the keynote speakers in the seminars at The National Franchise Exhibition is Dina Dwyer-Owens, one of America’s best known franchisors and now known widely since she featured in the TV series Undercover Boss. She will be travelling from America and will be delivering her speech at 12:00pm on both days. The Dwyer Group, of which Dina is Chief Executive Officer, includes the well-established franchises Mr Electric and Rainbow International, both of which are exhibiting at the event.

Running alongside the seminars are a series of clinics offering help and advice to visitors from experts in the industry. The Careers Clinic is an excellent place for those who are unsure of their plans for the future to start putting things into place. The advisors here will help to benchmark skills and focus areas of expertise. They will also help visitors to create a business plan, which will become the most important document in the whole process.

The Expert Advice Clinic is where visitors can ask general questions to franchise experts including solicitors, accountants and consultants. The Finance Clinic, run by Franchise Finance, meanwhile will offer help with preparing business plans and applications for funding.

For those visitors who already know that they hope to invest in the higher end of the franchise scale, there is a dedicated High Investment VIP Lounge, which provides the perfect atmosphere for networking and engaging in more in-depth conversations with franchisors over complimentary refreshments.

One of the best ways to gain a real understanding of how franchising works is to hear from those who have already become entrepreneurs and both the Real Franchise Stories and the Growing Your Own Business seminars offer visitors the chance to do this.

Anthony Culshaw, a banker based in Leamington Spa, found these talks particularly helpful when he attended The National Franchise Exhibition last year. “I’m in the very early stages of thinking about starting up a business, so I came here to find out more about franchising and what types of franchise are available. The seminars were very informative and the Real Franchise Stories session gave me a good idea of what it is like to be a franchise owner. It was encouraging to see that people like me have become successful.”

All of the franchise brands exhibiting have been accredited by the bfa, which means that visitors can discuss the opportunities they are offering in complete confidence, knowing they have met the association’s strict code of ethics.

Adrian Goodsell, head of franchise sales at event organiser Venture Marketing Group, said: “The National Franchise Exhibition offers fantastic opportunities for anyone considering franchising as a career. There is advice and guidance to take you through to the next stage of planning and progress. The list of companies who have already signed up to take part is exciting and impressive and we look forward to welcoming even more before the doors open in October. This year’s event looks set to be unmissable.”

The National Franchise Exhibition is open from 10:00 both days, closing at 17:00 on Friday 3rd and 16:00 on Saturday 4th October. Admission on the door is £15; however visitors can gain free entry by booking in advance with the promo code TFMNFA.