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Top 10 tips for maximising your time at exhibitions

Top 10 tips for maximising your time at exhibitions

Joshua Christopher, marketing manager at the International Franchise Show, has 10 top tips

Want to work for yourself, but not by yourself? Looking to invest in a franchise? Franchising can sometimes feel like a big leap into the unknown, but luckily for you franchisors have already ironed out the rookie errors, overcome the hurdles and established a tried and tested model that works.

You’re buying into an established brand and a business that is already successful, which is why only around five per cent fail, compared to around an 80 per cent failure rate for new independent start-ups.

Attending a franchise show is one of the best ways to fi nd the ideal franchise for you. But the hard work starts before you arrive at the venue.

Plan and target

The fi rst thing you should do before attending a franchise exhibition is plan. At franchise exhibitions, you’ll find hundreds of brands, ranging from fast food to cleaning franchises and everything in between. We suggest printing off the exhibitor list from the website and circling those brands that potentially interest you.

Research the exhibitors. Work out how much you need to earn and how much you need to invest. Think about what you’re good at and what you’re not. Remember that banks like franchising, so try and find out how much you could potentially borrow.

Write a CV to bring to the show. Investing in a franchise is a two-way process - a franchisor needs to recruit the right candidate, as much as you need to find the right opportunity and a CV is a quick way to explain who you are.

Seek out opportunities

A lot of exhibitions off er a variety of extra features, such as one-to-one appointments with industry experts, facilitated networking, master licence matchmaking services, franchise zones or pavilions and VIP areas.

Check out all the features on off er and book in key ones in advance - we recommend at least two months prior to the show date to avoid disappointment.

Stay in the loop

Exhibition organisers will usually release important information via social media, emails or press releases, so follow the show’s social media accounts to keep up to date with speaker announcements, key information, new brands/sponsors and everything else you need to know. Better still, sign up to the exhibition newsletter.

Know your pitch

Prepare a 60-second pitch that will essentially sell yourself. Also, network with as many brands that fit your interest.

Prepare questions

Formulate a checklist of what you want from a potential franchise. Use the checklist to branch off questions that meet these requirements. Think of this as what you want work-wise.

Are you happy working weekends and travelling to a variety of destinations? Or would you prefer to work in one location with a schedule that allows you to manage out of work commitments?

Whatever you seek, be sure to have a set of questions ready and don’t be afraid to say ‘no thanks’ if the opportunity isn’t right for you. Allow time to reflect if you believe a franchise meets your checklist criteria.

Attend seminars, clinics and advice zones

Expand your knowledge by attending free seminars, clinics and advice zones run by some of the leading experts in the industry.

Gain inspiration from keynote speakers, motivation from franchisees and broaden your horizons through advice workshops - you’ll be driven to start your venture in no time.

Take time to think

Exhibitions of any kind can sometimes be overwhelming, especially if you’re not set on a particular business sector. With franchises ranging from under £10,000 to over £500,000, investing in the right opportunity can be a daunting task.

Think about what your aspirations are. Where do you see yourself in five years? What are you hoping to achieve? And most importantly, reflect on what drove you to consider franchising in the first place. Was it a particular brand or a bunch of companies that all have something in common?

Whatever your budget is, ensure you take sufficient breaks throughout the day to recap on the conversations you’ve had and weigh up the best franchise opportunity for you.

Embrace the unknown

This one’s a real curve ball. If you come across a brand that you hadn’t considered, be open minded.

Perhaps there’s a brand that offers an exciting opportunity that fits your criteria or maybe there’s a fledgling franchise that offers something new to market.

Whatever it is, keen an open mind.

Give yourself enough time

It’s a no-brainer. Ensure you give yourself enough time to visit prospects, don’t leave anything to the last minute, factor in talks, seminars or any other features and plan your networking accordingly.

Make notes and follow up

So you’ve attended all the great talks, picked up lots of information and expanded your knowledge. You’re now ready to leap into the world of franchising, right? Maybe not. A few weeks after the show you’ve most likely forgotten a lot of the information you gained at seminars or advice clinics. To avoid this, take a notepad and pen to the exhibition so you can scribble down key tips or interesting facts you learn.

Even if you don’t have a notepad or pen, pick one up at the exhibition - trust me, there’ll be lots on the stands. Also, the show guide usually has some free space to make notes. Once the show is over and you have all the information you need, you’ve weighed up possible investments and have a pool of potential franchises, follow up.

Call or email to plan the next steps. Don’t be alarmed if you’re contacted for follow-ups too, as franchisors will be keen to hear from interested candidates.

Have your notes ready and discuss the next steps to becoming a franchisee with your perfect franchise.

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