Tips for Navigating a Franchise Tradeshow

Blurry photo of tradeshow exhibition halll
Ricky’s All Day Grill – SO2017 – MED RECT
Ricky’s Cafe – SO2017 – MED RECT

  1. Preparation begins at home.
  • Pre-register to save time when you arrive, and to take advantage of any special deals you receive when signing up in advance.
  • Visit the tradeshow’s website and go through the list of confirmed exhibitors. Create a “must-visit” list of brands, and make note of specific questions you want to ask.
  • Research industries that interest you – What are you passionate about? What is the average investment level? What kinds of skills and qualities do most franchises in this industry look for in franchisees?
  • Learn more about the market in which you would likely operate your franchise. What are the demographics? What businesses would be your competitors? If your market was unavailable, would you be willing to consider another neighbourhood, town, area, etc.?
  1. Only bring the essentials.
  • Bring along a sturdy bag to hold the printed information – brochures, fact sheets, business cards, etc. – that you collect throughout the day.
  • Consider leaving your children at home with a friend, relative or babysitter. As cute as they are, you need to be able to focus solely on the conversations you’re having with exhibitors.
  • Enlist your spouse or partner to join you, along with anyone else who will be investing or working in the franchise with you. It’s a big decision, so it’s good to get everyone involved in the process.
  1. Keep an open mind.
  • Though you may attend the show with a few industries or specific franchises in mind, tradeshows are a great way to be exposed to brands or opportunities you might not have previously considered. As you’re moving around the show floor, watch for any booths that catch your eye, and be sure to explore them further.
  1. Step right up.
  • Franchise tradeshows should be a pressure-free way to explore the opportunities available. So, don’t be shy – step right up to the booth and start asking questions. Everyone is there to provide more information on their franchise system, and is prepared to answer your queries.
  1. Take note.
  • You’re likely going to spend a few hours at the tradeshow, having numerous conversations with representatives from multiple companies. After the show, it may seem like a bit of a blur, so it can help to jot down a few notes either as you’re having a conversation or in between conversations.
  • An easy way to do this (and to remember the names of those you spoke with) is to get a business card from anyone with whom you had an in-depth conversation, and make a few notes on it about what you talked about and any next steps.
  1. Research is paramount.
  • Generally, at this stage, it’s more about due diligence and research than decision-making. Most franchise tradeshow exhibitors aren’t there to sign contracts; meeting with prospective franchisees in this informal way is simply one step in the detailed franchise investment process.
  • Though it’s exciting to be at the show and to learn about great opportunities, it’s important to keep in mind that a franchise that is a good fit is one that you’re not only excited about, but also meets your needs in terms of investment level, skills profile, lifestyle and work balance, and a host of other considerations.
  1. Learn from the pros.
  • Many tradeshows offer free seminars and/or other learning opportunities. Be sure to take advantage of these complimentary sessions, which are usually led by franchise experts, industry veterans, franchise support services/supplier professionals, successful franchisees, etc.
  1. Don’t forget to follow up.
  • After the excitement of the show, the due diligence continues. This could involve continuing to research companies you’re interested in, filling out applications for the one or ones that have captured your interest the most, visiting existing locations (if possible) to see their operations firsthand, and/or discussing the possibilities with your family and co-investors.

4 Reasons to Make Franchise Tradeshows Part of Your Investment Journey

  1. You get to meet with franchise representatives face to face.
  2. You can ask specific questions and get firsthand information that is tailored to you.
  3. By meeting in person, you can get an idea of the company’s culture.
  4. You can learn more about becoming a franchisee and franchising in general through free on-site seminars.

Get the details on upcoming franchise tradeshows across Canada!

5 Questions to ask (and why):

  1. How much is the initial investment, and what does it include?

Though this number may be given to you as a range, as there can be variables, it’s important to get a general picture of the financial commitment involved.

  1. How does the franchisor award locations?

A good franchisor will have an established process that prospective franchisees are guided through, which allows sufficient time for both sides to gather information and evaluate the opportunity.

  1. What kind of initial and ongoing training/support does the franchisor provide to franchisees?

Since consistency is king in a franchise system, you want to see that the franchise offers some level of training and support in order to ensure that all new franchisees are able to exactly replicate the business concept at their location.

  1. Is the franchise system a member of the Canadian Franchise Association (CFA)?

All CFA members voluntarily agree to abide by the CFA Code of Ethics.

  1. Will I be provided with a disclosure document?

Existing franchise legislation in six provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, and PEI) mandates that prospective franchisees be provided with a disclosure document before signing the franchise agreement. A disclosure document is a compendium of information about the franchise system and its officers.