One way to learn about the massive number of franchise opportunities being offered in your area is to attend a franchise trade show. These events run the gamut from huge events like the West Coast Franchise Expo, to dinky little events put on by local franchise brokers.
I’ve attended them, spoken at them, and have even paid way too much for a booth at a couple of them. (Resentment building as I’m writing this….)
There’s one thing that I recommend you do, and you can write this on a rock;
I’m serious. Don’t eat before you go to a franchise show. 30% of the franchise companies that show up are food franchises, and you’ll
see smell what I mean as soon as you enter the pavilion. So, even if it turns out that most of the franchise opportunities that are showing their wares are clearly from the bottom of the barrel, at least you ate well
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The shows that I’ve participated in have had 40-50 different franchisors in attendance. That’s a pretty good size, and you can easily spend two hours at a show like that. If you attend the educational seminars that are sometimes offered, figure you’ll be there around three hours. (For example, when I speak at these shows, my franchise seminar lasts about an hour, including Q&A.)
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The franchises that are offered vary a lot. Some of them are full service restaurant franchises that require a $500,000 investment, while some of them are actually not even franchises; they’re low-investment business opportunities. There’s a difference. Business opportunities are in no way, shape or form, franchise opportunities. As a matter of fact, I remember one franchise show in particular that had almost as many business opportunities as franchise opportunities. That’s actually okay, if you’re there to learn about, “what’s out there.” I know that for me-if I made the choice that I wanted to be my own boss darn it, I really wouldn’t care what the business structure was; I just wanted to find out if there was something around that could work for me!
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How To Be The Boss At A Franchise Show
So, how should you go about working a show? That’s right; I’m suggesting that you work it…not the other way around.
Think about it; you’re not on your own turf–so to speak. The representatives of the franchise companies have been at the show for hours. They’ve been setting up their booths, and have had a chance to warm up to their surroundings. You haven’t. Figure once you enter the show, it will take you 15-20 minutes to get a feel for what’s there. Here’s what you should do;
- Grab the map-the brochure…whatever the expo company hands out when you enter the gate, and head to the closest food franchise that’s offering food. Grab some. Then, go find somewhere to sit. Eat. Scope things out. Do some people watching. Get your bearings a little. Do a cursory look of your brochure, and mark the opportunities that you’re mildly interested in. You’re not looking for The One. You’re just looking. Get it?
- Start visiting the franchises, (or non-franchises) that you’re interested in learning a little more about. Don’t get distracted on your way over to them. Focus on the ones you marked off. Introduce yourself, and allow the franchise rep to do his or her thing. Ask some questions. General ones. You want general information.
- Avoid money questions. This isn’t the time to ask the franchise representatives the “how much can I make in one of your franchises,” types of questions. They really shouldn’t even answer questions relating to earnings etc. It doesn’t matter how much you can make. You don’t, (and won’t) have enough information on the actual business model to make any kind of determination if you’ll even be a fit for it. It’s way too early to ask about money. That also means that you don’t have to answer any questions pertaining to your money either. Just say you can come up with the right amount of money for the right kind of opportunity. It works. Be the boss. You have the money; they have the opportunity.
- Engage in pleasant conversations with the reps, and learn what you can about several different opportunities. That’s all I want you to do at these shows. That’s all you should be doing. You’re not going to do any wheeling and dealing. There’s really nothing to wheel and deal over. Feel free to give them your name and email. Phone number , too. (If you’re interested in their concept.)
- Look at franchises that you’re not interested in before you leave the show. Hopefully, you’ve spent some quality time with a few of the ones that you were interested in, and you’ve grabbed some fact sheets. Now, I want you to get out of your comfort zone a bit, and check out a couple of businesses that you would never even think of looking into–on your way out. Life is full of surprises, and you should have somewhat of an open mind. There are opportunities in franchise business ownership that could be perfect for you–ones that you never even heard of, or thought of. Go ahead. Maybe you’ll get lucky.
Attending a quality franchise show to learn how you can be the boss can be a very positive experience, as long as you don’t get too caught up in the smells. They’re a great way to see what’s out there–in one fell swoop. Just have realistic expectations. If you’re hoping to find the perfect franchise…The One, you may end up being disappointed. It’s not because of any particular thing. It’s just that a lot of things have to line up in order to find the right franchise.
But, you never know; maybe that perfect franchise is there.
There are lots of ways to learn about franchise opportunities. There are great franchise websites. You can work with a franchise advisor. Maybe you’ll find out about a franchise offering from a friend or relative. The point is this; if there’s a franchise business out there for you, you’ll find it.
Have you ever attended a franchise show? What has your experience been? Did you find your franchise by attending one? Tell us!