Cathryn Hayes suggests five ways to maximise your time at a franchise exhibition
When you first start looking at franchising, it can seem overwhelming to have to choose from so many options. The process of narrowing things down so that you can assess your options thoroughly is vital and visiting a franchise exhibition is an ideal way to get started.
Do some forward planning before the show. Exhibition organisers will publish details of who will be at their shows, so you can see what franchises will be attending and start to plan your day.
You should also do some wider research, looking at franchise websites and publications to find out more about the types of franchises available, as well as understanding more about the sectors or franchises you are interested in exploring further.
You won’t see every franchise at a show, but you can use your visit to identify key industry sectors and target particular franchisors to speak to at their stands.
Most franchise exhibitions will run a series of educational seminars, which are a great way to pick up tips about various aspects of becoming a franchisee.
Make sure you check the seminar schedule before you attend the show, as the early seminars can fill up quite quickly and you don’t want to miss anything.
Often the seminar panel will include a range of industry specialists, including lawyers and banks, as well as franchisors. So if you have any specific questions, you can often obtain some helpful advice.
What are the key questions you have about starting a franchise business? Take time to think about what your concerns are about being self-employed and about how the franchise relationship works. What about your obligations? What will you get for your money?
One thing to remember is that franchisors will also be assessing you when you are on their stand talking to them. You don’t have to give them your life story, but be honest about your timescales and potential investment levels if you get into more detailed conversations.
It’s a good idea to spend some time thinking about your skills and experience and what you could bring to a franchise. Joining a franchise isn’t like applying for a job, but you will need to convince a franchisor that you will be the right fit for the network.
You should take your time during the research process, so if a franchisor is pushing you to make a quick decision alarm bells should ring.
Buying a franchise is a big step to take. You are taking control of your future and signing up to a long-term contract, so a good franchisor will want you to do your due diligence properly.
After attending a show, consider what you have learned and think about whether you are still excited about the opportunity of running your own franchise.
Hopefully, attending the show will have helped you to narrow down your choices. Your journey to becoming a franchisee has just begun.
Cathryn Hayes is franchise director at Revive! Auto Innovations and has over 20 years of franchising experience as head of franchising at HSBC and at the British Franchise Association.
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