Before you visit a franchise exhibition it’s important to do some research so you can arrive armed with a plan and a list of objectives.
1. What do I want?
It’s important to ask yourself this question. Have a think about the type of franchise or business you want to be involved in e.g.
- Hands-on or management opportunity
- Full-time or part-time
- Selling to individuals (B2C) or to companies (B2B)
- Your only business or part of a portfolio
- Consider your lifestyle and work-life balance
- How much money do you want to invest? How much do you want to make?
- Are you looking for a regular income or salary now, or are you looking to build up capital in your business to re-invest, or for retirement?
By asking these and similar questions you will be able to plan your exhibition visit and get the most out of the day.
2. Find out what’s on offer
A franchise exhibition is a fantastic opportunity to see a large number of franchisors, as well as experts in the field. You may be able to seek financial and legal advice and listen to guest speakers providing advice on franchise-related topics.
Do some research on the franchisors that match your criteria and write down a list of questions for each so you’re better prepared when you speak to them. Check out company websites and Google them on the internet to see how they come across on other websites and how active they are in promoting themselves. If you have time, write a list of what you see as pros and cons for each opportunity – this might also help you to define what it is you are really looking for.
4. On the day
When you get there take a moment to familiarise yourself with the exhibition map, decide who you are going to see and ideally in what order. Try and stick to a plan so you don’t become swamped in an information overload. Stay focused.
5. Visiting the exhibition stands
On the day there might be lots on offer, don’t get drawn into the glamour and exciting competitions, you’re there to gather important information. Check to see if franchisors are providing any presentations throughout the day or if they have a current franchisee on the stand you can talk to.
To ensure you get the most out of your stand visit ask if you can book an appointment with a key member of staff. Keep in mind – especially with the established and leading franchise brands – that you’re selling yourself as much as they are selling to you.
6. Gathering information
It’s easy to get carried away with the buzz of the day so when speaking to people don’t be afraid to take notes. This will help you to recall the finer details when you get home. Ask for the business card of the person you spoke to so you have all their details should you have any follow up questions after the event.
It’s up to you if you want to be added to any mailing lists. Being added to a mailing list is good if you are looking to buy a franchise over a longer time period or if a franchise you are interested in doesn’t have a territory available within your area. Situations change and should an opportunity arise you want to be made aware of it.
Now is also the time to book a follow-up one to one or Discovery Day appointment with those franchisors you are really interested in – and to shelve the rest. Never concentrate on more than two opportunities at a time.
7. Wild card
If you have the time it’s sometimes worth visiting a franchise stand that you’re attracted to but doesn’t necessarily tick all your boxes. This can help to reaffirm the choices you have already made or may make you reconsider, opening the door to other options. Buying a franchise or business is a big deal and you want to make sure you find the right match for you, your expectations and needs.
After the event, read through any additional information you have, look through your notes and contact the franchisors if you have any further questions (but it may be worth waiting a week or so before doing this – you can tell a lot about their business by how efficiently they are following up).
Speak to your bank and legal advisors to see what options are available. Don’t forget to talk to your family and friends as they know your strengths and weaknesses and can look at the opportunities you’ve chosen to pursue with a fresh pair of eyes.