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The Ins and Outs of Navigating a Trade Show

West Coast Franchise Expo

(This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy).

(This is a guest post from Rhonda Sanderson, Sanderson PR)

Attending a franchise opportunities show—especially for your first time—can be an overwhelming experience. Yet with the right planning and preparation, it can be well worth your time. With an estimated 1,500 different franchise companies operating in theU.S., it’s important to do your research and not settle on the first concept you find. If you’re thinking about buying a franchise, consider attending the West Coast Franchise Expo November 4 to 6 in Los Angeles. Before you hit the trade show floor, check out the following tips which will help you find a concept that best suits your career goals, skills and lifestyle.

Stay organized

Only accept press materials from the companies that truly interest you—otherwise you’ll walk away from the event frustrated and confused. Even if exhibitors are insistent on you taking their stuff, don’t be afraid to say no! It’s also a good idea to bring an expanding file folder. These are light, easy to carry around and can help separate the materials according to how interested you are in the franchise. Be sure to label the sections of the folder before you get to the event.  It’s also a good idea to bring a pen and small notepad with you. By the end of the show, you’ll have talked to so many people, you’ll forget who is who!

Do your research

Find out which exhibitors will be at the event before you get there. Check out their websites and articles that have been written—find out what they offer and where they are looking to expand. Have a list prepared of what franchises you want to visit and what specific questions you want to ask. Although it may be too time consuming to research all exhibitors, it’d still be a good idea to have a few in mind before approaching the trade show floor.

Ask questions

Every individual is different, so you want to ensure the franchise you choose best fits your specific lifestyle. Important factors to inquire about include: investment and royalty costs, hours of operation, as well as training and support. If a certain franchise appeals to you, but you haven’t had experience in the specific industry you should ask about training procedures.

Also keep in mind that there are home-based franchises—this may be the best option for a family with young children. If you feel as though you still don’t have a thorough grasp of the franchise, ask to interview existing franchisees.

Don’t get distracted

With hundreds of exhibitors vying for your attention, make sure you don’t get diverted by a delicious slice of pizza or an awesome giveaway. In addition to press materials, franchisors will often distribute gimmicky-type items to draw you towards their booth—don’t let it keep you from staying focused on the task at hand. Remember why you’re attending the show. If you are serious about investing in a franchise, then get serious at the event.  And don’t spend too much time with one brand. There are hundreds of franchisors to speak with—so ask the crucial questions and move on.

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Schedule meetings

Don’t feel pressured to get all the necessary information and face time in on the trade show floor. If you’re really interested in a concept, ask to meet with one of the sales managers for breakfast or dinner. This way you can talk to them one-on-one without all the commotion. Additionally, you won’t feel rushed and you can ask more in-depth questions.

At trade shows, you can learn more about franchising through free informational seminars and speaking with successful franchising veterans. Sponsored by the IFA and taking place November 4 to 6 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the West Coast Franchise Expo (WCFE) will feature hundreds of exhibitors. There will also be more than 30 information-packed seminars and symposia available—and most of the sessions are free. To register for free admission to the WCFE—compliments of The Franchise King®—click here, or visit and use Promo Code: GPKING.

About The Author

Rhonda Sanderson is the founder of Chicago-based Sanderson & Associates, the first national PR firm to specialize solely in franchise companies. Sanderson & Associates has handled publicity for hundreds of franchisors and thousands of their franchisees since its inception in 1985. Check out

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joel libava

I'm The Franchise King®, Joel Libava. I help prospective franchise owners avoid bank account emptying mistakes.
For 23 years, I’ve been showing people how to make smart, informed decisions on franchises to buy, and I can help you, too!
P.S. I'm not a franchise consultant/broker.

Straightforward Advice
Joel, thank you for taking the time to speak with me yesterday. It was refreshing to finally speak with someone in franchising who dishes out straightforward, candid advice. You provided me with some insightful ideas that I'm giving a good deal of thought and consideration to. I look forward to speaking with you on our next consultation call."
- John Timmins, Columbia, South Carolina
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