How to Turn Franchise Expos From Teases to the Real Deal
How to Turn Franchise Expos From Teases to the Real Deal

Want to actually close deals from an expo? It's time to do things differently.

Many franchise brands are going to play some poker this week when they exhibit at the annual franchise expo in New York. While they hope it’s the real deal, the reality is the data is twisted, the expectations are wacky and the results will be disappointing. Unfortunately, this is the life of expos.

But, if you’re willing to take a different approach, there is some hope.

The myth is that it’s all about leads
Survey says. Buzzz. The reality is that franchise development is not all about leads. I know of several brands that had high temperatures in New York last year, saying it was an amazing show where they got hundreds of leads. And then, as the weeks and months passed, those leads turned into nothing. Who’s fault is that? Not the expo. You see, the expo’s job is not to close your deals for you. Their job is to get people to the venue who have some interest (even if slim) in franchising. It is your job to educate them about franchising and your opportunity (or fill their bags with your free pens and Frisbees). And then, it’s your job to close those leads. But, remember, it doesn’t take 100 leads to close a deal, it takes one. Just one. And if you need 10 deals, then you need 10 leads to close.

When working the show, think about the right people. If you are overly hungry to simply talk with a human being, don’t waste your money. If you are going to do some prequalifying when they show up at your booth to see if it’s really worth the time, then cool.

It’s not what you do at the show that will allow you to win
You may think the thousands of people walking the show simply need to hear your pitch to become a franchisee, but again, you would be incorrect.

Think about your own buying process. Would you make one of the largest decisions of your life (that’s what buying a franchise is) in a matter of minutes after being snagged by an expo infomercial? Duh, of course not. Neither will your candidates. The smart brands have a few other things going on – before the show. They market the Northeast – because that’s where the majority of people will be from. They market to their old leads – because they are in town. They bring current franchisees along – because people sell brands. They take the prospects out to dinner – because there is still a need to wine and dine.

What you do at the show is only one part of the equation. Be ready to have a process that extends before and after the show as well.

Think about the buying process
There is a clear process (even though every buyer is slightly different) to buying a franchise. A love for the product. A belief that they can make money. A financial bandwidth for making the purchase. A belief in the leadership team. And, of course, the territory they want needs to be available.

Can you answer all of that at a show with a fancy booth? No. Is there value to showcasing your product? Maybe.

Many brands who serve product feel like they are serving the free lunch crowd. This I would mostly agree with. But, if you don’t have any stores in the Northeast, then it is essential to showcase what people can have if they buy your brand.

Wow them with a booth
You decide you want to buy a Mercedes. You go to the dealer. You walk in, and there’s shitty carpet, a few booth stands that look like a kindergartners drew them, and, of course, crappy free pens. You walk up to the sales guy and he tells you that this is your lucky day, that you get to buy a car from him.

What happens next? You walk out. Why? Because there is no trust and your expectations of a Mercedes far outstretch the reality you are served.

You are selling a business, and in many cases, a business that will impact the life savings of your buyers. Make them trust you. Think high-level branding, high-level materials (no staples). High-level, high level, high-level. Mirror the way Mercedes brands and you won’t lose out on any one who could potentially be interested in buying what you’re selling.

No matter how good at sales you are, good luck changing someone’s mind
Think about a guy asking a girl out. She has her eyes on another guy at the party – not you. You try to impress her with your wit, charm and jeans with metal pieces attached. Buzz. You fail. Why? Because she had her mind set on something else.

If you prequalify the buyer when they come up, you can avoid the wasting of time.

Expos are not magic tricks. Don’t fool yourself into thinking this will rewrite your sales as a brand. But, if you are creative in your approach, you will set yourself up to potentially win. And potential is all you can wish for.