The idea of having lots of options under one roof is appealing but what on earth do you do with all that information?
Franchisors will breathe a sigh of relief that larger-scale franchise exhibitions are now able to take place. There are already a few events taking place that have the potential to draw in thousands of people like you across only a few hundred franchised brands representing anything from food to cleaning, health and just about every sector you can think of!
There is a franchise covering any sector you can think of
But why would any franchisor spend a fortune to attract you if their offering was so good, you might ask. It is fair to say that exhibitions are rarely a place for franchises to get sold. Instead, you might notice that many will have the briefest of chats, but will want to take your details for them to be able to follow up. The environment simply is not one that encourages extensive dialogue, on top of that, the franchisors want to ensure they capture everyone that shows some significant interest, so do not be put off if you feel you might have been rushed. The franchisor will definitely not want to rush you, but there will have been people behind you pressing for more information too.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
There might be in excess of 150 to 200 franchised brands at the exhibition. You will not be able to get through them all! Instead, take a copy of the exhibition magazine if you are already there. Most will have an online version too and mark out just the ones that are of interest to you. This could be defined by the sector, investment level, even simply what you like the look of. You will probably find that the list of maybe 200 is now down to around a quarter of that, while that is still a high number, it is way more manageable than just what is there. Now focus on the ones that you have decided on.
Finding a franchise is all about the right fit
Most people think that just about anybody can rock up and buy a franchise. This is not further from the truth! It is always advantageous for a franchisor to sell another unit, or territory, but if they have sacrificed any fee over their ideal franchisee, then it will not end well for either of you. For them, there will be no long-term business and a failed franchisee is always terrible news for any franchisor that can often take years to overcome, but also for you. The dream of your own business is also shattered and there might also be longer-term consequences of a failure, not least because it could be written into your agreement that any termination (irrespective of fault) would have financial consequences. And you do not want to be on the receiving end of that if your business is already in financial ruin.
How do you know if a franchise is really that worthy?
Let us be really clear on this point. You must perform your own due diligence on any franchise you look at. This means asking the difficult questions when you need to and receiving appropriate answers that make you comfortable. Be sure to ask for opinions of anyone that helps you make the all-important decisions in life, whether these are professional advisors or family and friends, either option should be a good choice to use as neither will have an emotional attachment to consider as they look at pure facts to help you come to a decision.
Attend the free seminars
Use the seminar space as a way to not have to interact but still hear the facts on the business. There are limited spaces for franchisors to be able to do this. So many of the brands that you want to check out will not be able to offer this facility. Do not let that put you off though as this is not necessarily a sign as to whether a franchise is a good one or not. In fact, this could be to your advantage as often when the seminars are taking place for a food brand, for example, you might find that their competing brand (who is not performing a seminar) could well be empty and then that is your perfect opportunity to go and have a decent conversation with them.
Do not try and buy there and then
A huge red flag for a franchisor finding the right franchisee will be anyone that tries to buy on the day. Unless of course, you are using the exhibition as one last opportunity to see people again face-to-face to confirm your commitment. Anyone else should be utilising the time to gather information so that they can make an informed choice, and more information will duly follow. Part of this will be getting sight of a franchise agreement for which you might even require a professional opinion. These are often sixty-plus pages or more, and you need to be in full concentration mode to fully absorb things like your obligations to the franchisor and what you are committing yourself to.
Why it is good to sometimes say no
Having gathered plenty of information, sometimes the franchise is not what you thought it might be. However, you have probably ended up in some sort of follow-up sequence by the franchisor and decided it is not for you. You might be ignoring calls or emails to see if you still have sufficient interest in the franchise. This is not the best call to action, whilst any franchise brand owner or consultant wants to sell a franchise, they will want the right fit and they will not want to spend their precious time on anyone that is not genuinely interested. Just tell them as they will appreciate your honesty and you will save them time. They will simply move on to the next enquiry.
Franchise exhibitions are a great resource when used correctly. There will be plenty of people to talk to and you will find that the franchise sector is very open to dialogue. There are many great people to get to know in this sector, all you now need to decide is if it is the right thing for you!
Richard Pakey is a franchising expert and regional director for the award-winning Lime Licensing Group.