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Franchise Trade Shows: Making the Most of Your Visit

Franchise trade shows are a great way to explore opportunities and network with other people in the industry. Here’s what to know before you go.

By Victoria CampisiStaff Writer
10:10AM 10/20/23

Franchise trade shows are events where people who want to explore business ownership and franchise brands can meet and connect. If all goes well from networking and an exchange of business information, this can result in a new franchisee. Here’s how both sides can make the most of these events. 

For Prospective Franchisees

Before going to the trade show, it is important to find out which franchise brands will be in attendance, said Paul Segreto, CEO and founder of Acceler8Success Group and chief franchise office at Pepperoni's. 

“Learn about how they work, what they believe in and how they help people start businesses like yours,” he said. “This will help you make the best use of your time there.” 

Segreto noted that there are also five important questions that prospective franchise owners should be sure to ask the brands they meet:

  • Money Matters: How much money is initially needed, what the ongoing costs are and the average profit from the franchise
  • Learning and Help: What teaching and support options are offered, and how advertising assistance works
  • Where You Can Work: Where to set up your business, restrictions on similar franchise openings in your area
  • Success Stories: What the experiences were like for other franchisees, whether their contact info will be listed in the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD)
  • Leaving the Business: The exit strategy if the franchise isn’t for you

Attendees should also go to meetings and events that are relevant to their interests. Take notes while in attendance because you’ll be getting a lot of information at once.

For Franchisors

For franchisors in attendance, start by making your booth look welcoming and informative. Show off your brand and provide materials such as brochures, stories from people who started businesses with you, as well as pictures or charts.

“Teach your staff to be friendly, know a lot about your brand and business model, and be ready to answer questions,” noted Segreto. “Try to have meaningful talks with people who might want to work with you.” 

Brands should also make packets with plenty of details for people who are interested. These should include information on how much it costs to start, what kind of support you offer and how they can apply.

Have a game plan for what you will do after the show. This may include collecting info from interested parties, using programs to keep track of who might want to work with you and reaching out post-show. 

How to Network Effectively

No matter what side of franchising you’re on, trade shows are an excellent opportunity to network with people in the community. Segreto recommended a few more tips to get the most out of networking: 

  • Be Friendly: Smile, look people in the eye and speak in a positive manner.
  • Quick Introduction: Have a short and clear way to introduce yourself and what you’re interested in. Everyone should have an elevator pitch. 
  • Listen Well: Pay attention to what others are saying, and ask follow-up questions to show you’re  interested.
  • Exchange Info: Don’t forget to give or get business cards or contact info from people you think could be good partners.
  • Take Notes: After each talk, write down important things about the people you met and what they are interested in. 

After the Event

Attending franchise trade shows can be a helpful tool when it comes to starting a business. But it's important to prepare and keep the conversation going after the event. Review your notes, follow-up with potential partners and stay connected. 

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