Now that the New Year is here, there are many large franchise exhibitions with several big shows coming up, including:
- The British Franchise Exhibition, Manchester, January 26-27
- The IFA Annual Convention, Orlando, February 9-12
- The Franchise Show, Toronto, February 17-18
- Franchise Expo, Paris, March 23-27
- 18th USA International Franchise Expo, Washington, DC, March 30
For those prospective franchisees are who serious about finding and buying a franchise, these franchise trade shows offer an excellent opportunity to meet face-to-face with franchisors. But before you step into the franchise exhibition hall, there are a few things you can do to make yourself a more informed shopper when it comes to choosing a franchise.
Here are a few tips for getting the most out of our your exhibition time:
1. Run a reality check –honestly evaluate yourself, your interests, talents and limitations. For instance, do you want to work in a retail or restaurant environment; or do you prefer to be out and about calling on customers? Do you want to limit your work time to business hours or are you willing to work on weekends too? What are your personal likes and dislikes – there are so many different types of franchises that cater to every consumer need, from pets to home décor to yard work to fitness and nutrition. Recognize your true passions and lifestyle preferences, so you can narrow your choices down to specific industries and franchises
2. Think hard about money – get a realistic picture of what you can afford to pay for franchise fees, and how long you can survive before turning a profit. What are your current assets and savings? How much can you actually borrow and for how long? Be conservative – plan for unexpected setbacks and expenses. Use your financial capabilities and limitations as a guideline for your investment range so you don’t waste time talking with franchisors that are not affordable for your situation.
3. Do your homework – request information from franchisors before you talk to them. If possible, get a Universal Franchise Offering Circular (UFOC) first. You don’t have to sign it when you receive it, just study it so you understand the business model, fees, operational procedures, and each party’s obligations. Highlight anything you don’t understand so you can raise these questions in person with franchisor representatives. There is a receipt page in the UFOC for you to sign – this entails no obligation on your part other than documenting that you received it. There is an official waiting period of ten days after receipt (expanding to 14 days after July 08, but some Franchisors may honor that now). Don’t sign the receipt page until after you talk to the show representatives so you have the full ten (or 14) days to consult with an attorney and accountant.
4. Shop around – get UFOCs from several franchisors within the industry so you can compare their offerings. This gives you a good overview on the industry and how competing franchises differ.
5. Be polite and professional – remember, exhibition representatives want to sign up customers, just like any salesperson. You may be pressured with tactics like, “today only” or “last territory available.” Don’t buy it! Walk away from get-rich-quick schemes, and anything that sounds too good to be true.
If you are truly interested, declare your intention to not sign or buy anything that day. Let them know you’re checking out several alternatives and will be making an informed decision after the show. Ethical franchisors want their franchisees to be responsible and make good choices. Successful franchisors look for serious, professional prospects. It is advantageous for you to present a thoughtful, business-like demeanor.
6. Network with franchisees – seek our franchisees in the crowd, especially those from specific franchises or industries. Introduce yourself as someone interested in the business and ask for pointers on how to get started and what to expect if you do buy the same franchise. If you find a franchisee from a competitor of a company you’re interested in, then just say you’re thinking of buying a franchise in that industry and ask about their experiences as a business owner.
There is a lot to see and absorb at franchise exhibitions, so being prepared beforehand will help you sort out everything afterwards. Jot down notes, take business cards, and sign up for any prizes offered. And of course, don’t forget to enjoy the free demos, giveaways and food tasting!