The fastest way to find the franchise business that makes sense
for you, professionally, personally and financially, is to visit a
franchise expo and spend time getting to know franchisors. Many
people like to visit expos for the free food and beverages, but
serious franchise candidates come to shop for opportunity! Here are
10 tips for making the most of your next trip to a franchise
Most people attend an expo unprepared and that's a mistake, so
the first several tips will help you get prepared. You might want
to set a goal for your visit. For example: "To leave the expo with
three different franchise disclosure documents." Getting a
disclosure is a must before purchasing a franchise, but franchisors
prefer to disclose only qualified candidates. There's another goal:
"Find out what the franchisor expects of franchisees." And that
takes us back to planning, so let's get started:
- Go with the intention of speaking to, and not just looking
at, the franchisors. Many people go through an expo by picking up
all the free literature and promotions, i.e. candy, pens, stress
balls, etc., and ignoring the people working the booths. They
don't stop to talk to anyone. Why? They're afraid of impulsive
buying. One of many good things about franchising is that you
can't make an impulsive buy. Franchise laws won't allow it. Until
you've been properly disclosed, a franchisor cannot take your
money. There's no arm-twisting at franchise expos, so take off
your game face and talk to the franchisors. That will lead to you
getting the all-important disclosure document, which provides
detailed information about the franchise opportunity.
- Prior to visiting the expo, develop a list of questions to
ask. For help coming up with the right questions, consult
101 Questions To Ask Before You Invest In A
. Carry your computer or notebook and record answers to the
questions you ask, making certain to keep track of the
franchisors that provided the answers. After the expo you won't
remember who told you what unless you have good notes.
- Do some advance planning. The International Franchise Expo
will occur June 19-21, 2014, but a partial exhibitor list is
already available at
. Franchise Expo South, set for Feb. 6-8, 2014 in Houston
includes dozens of exhibitors at
- Start gathering information immediately. What can you find
out about the companies on your list even before visiting them?
The more you know the better prepared you'll be to explore issues
that may concern you. Visit franchise web sites, request
information, and find out if the company is interested in opening
units in your area of choice.
- Where do you plan to open your franchise after finding the
right one? Franchisors will want to know. They'll ask because
they may be sold out in your area or state and they'll want to
know if you're willing to relocate. Are you?
- How much can you afford to invest in a franchise? Expect that
question from franchisors. It's a waste of time to speak to
franchisors that require a minimum investment of $250,000 when
you're capable of investing up to $100,000. And by the way,
you'll find some great opportunities for less than $100,000.
With the preliminaries out of the way, now you're ready to show
up at the expo, and here's what to do:
- Pick up a show catalogue, look at the list of exhibitors that
interest you (this is a good time to sit with a beverage and a
snack), and locate their booth numbers. Follow the signs inside
the expo to the appropriate booths. A representative will be
waiting for you! Introduce yourself, tell them about your
interest in the business, and set a meeting time when you can
talk uninterrupted for 15-30 minutes. Get ready to ask questions
and take notes!
- While you're walking the aisles, keep your eyes and mind
open. You will discover new opportunities. Many existing
franchisees went to an expo thinking they would buy Franchise X
and instead bought Franchise Y because it was a better fit. There
are some 100 industries using franchising as a method of
distribution. Most people are surprised to discover the great
variety of franchise opportunities.
- Take advantage of the service providers who exhibit at the
expo. You want free legal advice, accounting assistance, location
information, etc.? Now's the time to get it.
- Schedule time for symposia and free seminars. Enhance your
franchise education by attending one or more of the educational
programs offered by the expo.
And that's how to get the most out of a franchise expo!
Once you get home, read the disclosure documents and make plans to
follow through accordingly, i.e. discuss details with a franchise
attorney, talk to your accountant, and continue your dialogue with
the franchisors that interest you. You'll need some time to make a
good decision and on average it will take up to 6 months before you
actually become a franchisee.