Preparing to attend, or in fact exhibit at, your first franchise exhibition is no mean feat. Ensuring you are going to get the most out of the event is paramount, and this comes with some serious planning
We speak to three business owners on what it takes to prepare for a franchise show – including how to utilise your network to maximise those all-important networking opportunities, how to identify your own goals ahead of time and how, as a franchisor, you can ensure your franchise model stands out from the crowd.
“If you fail to prepare for a franchise show, then prepare to fail”
Tim Morris is the managing director of Cymphony, a communications provider helping thousands of clients to build customer relationships from the first interaction. Having been at the helm of several global franchise brands for 15 years, Tim is the perfect person to advise on preparing prior to a franchise exhibition.
“Exhibiting at a franchise show is one of the most productive, valuable and effective opportunities available to franchise owners or suppliers. They give you the exciting opportunity to interact with your audience face-to-face and build lasting and more powerful business relationships, particularly in a post-pandemic world. Just having a presence at these events allows you to put your franchise in front of a captive audience of business investors. However, if you fail to prepare for a franchise show, then prepare to fail,” warns Tim.
“Without a plan, exhibitions can be a little overwhelming. I recommend listing your goals and identifying the best way to attract prospects to your stand so you can make a memorable impact. While exhibiting isn’t about going in for the hard sell, one of the first and most important questions I recommend a franchisor ask a prospect would be, ‘Do you have, or can you raise, enough money to work with us?’ If they don’t, politely move on. You must focus your time interacting with people who can invest in your network at a franchise show.
“Once you have found someone you believe is a genuine prospect, I recommend asking questions to find out their ambitions and goals and whether your business is right for them. For example, if you are an owner-operator franchise and your prospect wants to run it as a management franchise, chances are they won’t suit your business. It’s also essential to brace yourself for a range of questions and make sure your team are also briefed to answer them. For example, how long have you been in business? What’s your point of difference? What is your training and support like for new and established franchisees?
“Closing a franchise sale during the show is unlikely to happen, so your lead follow-up plan is the most important piece of your exhibition strategy. It is crucial to promptly follow up your leads and organise them in order of importance so you can hopefully turn a prospect into a sale.”
“Our team are prepared to share the right level of information about franchising and ActionCOACH, depending on what stage of the journey the visitors to our stand have reached”
Julie Wagstaff is the co-founder of ActionCOACH UK. The world’s number one business coaching franchise uses franchise exhibitions to both attract new franchise partners and create interest in its business coaching services.
“Franchise exhibitions are a key part of our marketing mix for franchise recruitment and B2B services. As such, we don’t just rely on the footfall through the shows but drive people to visit us through PR, direct mail and personal invitations,” explains Julie.
“With this additional activity in place, we will welcome general show visitors to our stand plus those who may have recently made an enquiry to us or those further through our discovery process. Our team are prepared to share the right level of information about franchising and ActionCOACH, depending on what stage of the journey the visitors to our stand have reached.
“Our team are primed for those conversations where we also ask plenty of questions to ascertain if those visitors are a good match for us – it’s certainly not a one-way street. We’re lucky our franchise partners are willing volunteers at the shows – most people will want to know what it’s truly like to be part of our franchise whilst some visitors love to get a taste of what business coaching has to offer. The level of interest we get at our stand over a two-day show can be intense, so a carefully planned rota is essential for people to take a refreshment break away to return revitalised and ready to welcome visitors to find out more.”
“As a franchisor, we will help you navigate the complexities of care provision and running a care franchise, and that often starts at a franchise show”
Yorkshire born and bred, Dan Archer is the managing director of Sheffield-based care company, Visiting Angels. A franchise specialist with 20 years of experience, Dan has worked with a number of now-well-established franchise brands and helped over 350 franchisees to realise their dreams of self-employment.
“A franchisor’s brand is an important benefit to the franchisees joining a network,” he says. “In a competitive marketplace, the clarity and communicability of a brand are essential elements of success. The ‘X’ factor in franchising though is in the delivery of the product or service behind the brand. A brand stands for something – brand promise – and franchisees need to understand and engage with that promise. Franchisees who are passionate advocates for what the brand promises turbo-charge the franchise network’s success.
“As a franchisor, we will help you navigate the complexities of care provision and running a care franchise, and that often starts at a franchise show. One of the challenges that are regularly highlighted across our industry is carer recruitment. It’s a factor that care providers often struggle with but is one that we are constantly addressing with our unique understanding of carer recruitment strategies, which our team highlights from the first initial meeting. Franchise shows are an incredibly important part of our strategy, as we ensure everyone who joins our community – which operates within a crowded marketplace – shows belief in our exceptional services from the start.”
Franchise shows are the beginning of an exciting journey for many who join the world of franchising. Like Cymphony, ActionCOACH and Visiting Angels, brands that take the time to carefully plan their approach, as well as demonstrate what they can do to stand out in crowded marketplaces, are imperative for their continued growth and success. But franchise shows are a two-way street!
Franchisors have the opportunity to showcase their own brand to prospective franchisees, while also trying to find the right franchisees who can continue to deliver the exceptional standards set by the franchise. For franchises, franchisors and prospective franchisees, taking the time to prepare your own strategies when approaching a franchise show is the first of many vital steps towards celebrating a successful venture.