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How to Sell Franchises at the International Franchise Expo

You are going to spend tons of time and money marketing your franchise opportunity at the New York Franchise Expo, now comes ensuring you have the right approach and plan to winning.

By Molly VanGuilderManaging Editor
Updated 6:18PM 05/26/23

One of the most ubiquitous tips to find ideal franchisees is to attend industry events like trade shows and expos. The IFE Expo is just such an event. Your goal in attending an event like this, like everyone else, is to close a deal. However, coming to the event without having taken the necessary steps to set yourself up for success when you walk through the door can make it difficult to yield the results you're hoping to achieve. 

To do that, you need to start selling yourself long before the expo even starts, and you need to be telling prospective partners how your franchise can change their life.

In this webinar, 1851 Publisher Nick Powills and Charles Internicola of Franchise Law Solutions outline how franchisors can work smarter, not harder to market their brand ahead of time and have the right steps in place before the expo even begins. 

“When going through your asset checklist, long before you get to the question of whether or not you should attend an expo should be things like: do I have a deep dive on the business, do I have a compelling website that’s not just talking about our investment fees but is talking about what kind of transformation we offer, the Why Us, Why Now, and do we have a compelling founder and team story,” offers Internicola. “If you have all of that lined up and really feel you have the right story to tell franchisees, THEN you’re ready to go to an expo.” 

One of the key factors to remember when attending an event like the IFE Expo is the need to have momentum going in. Powills points out that many franchisors attend with the sole goal of selling, without understanding that it can take time to build the kind of buzz needed to make that happen. “The data points tell us that 67% of first-time franchisors don’t sell a deal within the first two years. And many see that as failure, but it can actually be a victory in that it gives time to build,” offers Powills. “We’ll see a ton of emerging brands here, but it’s important to remember that an Expo is often more an exposure opportunity than a lead generation opportunity.”

Measuring Expo Success Beyond Sales 

When it comes time to take stock in whether or not it was worth your time, money, and energy, Powills and Internicola advise that it’s crucial to measure success in terms that go beyond deals signed.

“It may take up to as much as nine months to determine whether or not an event like this yielded success,” says Internicola. Instead of limiting the event’s worth, look at other possible wins that were a result of your attendance. Did you use it as an information gathering opportunity? Were you able to distill your messaging down to communicate to potential partners how you can offer them real transformation as a business owner? If you can answer in the affirmative to questions like these, an event like the IFE Expo can be a success whether you sign a deal or not. 

Beyond the Show

Both Powills and Internicola advise you reframe your definition of Expo success. “Your goal is to build an impression that’s “sticky.” What are you going to do that’s going to keep the conversation going beyond the end of the show?” says Powills. He recommends that your main intent should be to find a way to keep talking to prospective partners and ensure you do something memorable. “Maybe it’s doing something like asking “Hey what’s your cell number? And leaving them a message that says ‘You’re not going to buy a franchise at the expo. But let’s talk after the show, here’s my number.’ By doing that right in your booth you’ve created a takeaway that gets remembered.”

Key Steps to Drive Value from the Expo 

The main thing to remember is that, even if you don’t close a deal at the Expo, you can still derive value from it by remembering these takeaways.

  1. Get a better understanding of your position in the marketplace.
  2. Understand how you’re going to position your brand at the event and think about it long before the first day of the show.
  3. Consider what your follow-up is going to look like after the show.
  4. When it’s over, think about what you could have done differently to get people to your booth and how you’ll make that happen next time.

By reflecting on these points, you can open up the door to making both this Expo a success in the long run and finding ways to succeed at the next event. 

Watch the full video by clicking here.