A Guide to UK Franchise Shows and Exhibitions for 2018 – 2019

17/08/2017 15:10 | Start a business

Top UK franchise trade shows and exhibitions

Want to know more about franchising but haven’t got a clue where to start? If the answer is yes, then you can find a tremendous amount of information by attending franchise events that take place across the country.

Here’s a run-down of upcoming British Franchise Association (bfa) accredited exhibitions and why they’re worth a visit.

The best UK franchise tradeshows coming up

What:The National Franchise Exhibition
Where:NEC, Birmingham
When:5th – 6th October 2018
Why:This two-day franchise show is like an essential guide to franchising. Whether you’re considering becoming a franchisee for the first time or you want to find out how to turn your existing business into a franchise, then this show will have all the answers.

Over the course of the exhibition, you’ll get the chance to hear from renowned professionals within the franchise industry. You’ll also benefit from a choice of educational presentations, informative workshops and insightful Q&A sessions. Experts from the world of finance and law will also be available to answer your questions, as well as representatives from the British Franchise Association.

What:The British and International Franchise Show
Where:Olympia, London
When:1st – 2nd February 2019
Why:This highly regarded exhibition offers prospective franchisees and franchisors the opportunity to get advice from professionals representing some of the biggest brands in the world. There will be a whole host of knowledgeable guest speakers, an array of seminars on a variety of different franchising topics, and hundreds of exhibitors for you to meet from both the UK and overseas.


Attending franchise shows and exhibitions are a great way of discovering franchise ideas and finding out about the most profitable and best franchise opportunities. And if you haven’t decided on a market or industry for your franchise then exhibitions are an opportunity to meet franchisors face to face so you can narrow down your search. You’ll also get the chance to chat with other franchisees and ask questions about what it’s really like to run a franchise business. In fact, Joel Libava (also known as the ‘Franchise King’) suggests that the ‘money question’ you should ask all franchisees when researching an opportunity should be “What do you wish you would have known before you bought this franchise?”. The answer you get should help you decide if franchising is really for you.

Top 5 tips when attending franchise shows

The Franchise Show has produced a useful infographic to help you get the most out of your exhibition visits. They offer the following advice:

Allow plenty of time – You will be meeting people you should be speaking to in every aisle. Before you know it, time will run away from you. Allow enough time for unscheduled conversations as well as planned meetings.

  1. Make a plan – It pays to be prepared. Have a list of outcomes that you’d like to achieve during your time. Be focused on the objectives that are the biggest priority for your business.

  2. Have an open mind – One of the advantages of exhibitions is that you often find out about brands and ideas you have never considered before. In some cases, when you are looking for innovation, it’s the idea that you haven’t considered that offers the best solution.

  3. Pre-register – Not only will you save money, but you will also receive regular e-alerts with the latest show news, offers and benefits.

  4. Take advantage of free educational opportunities – If you are close to an industry the more likely you might fall in the trap of “seen it, heard it, done it”. But don’t be complacent. Look at what the show is offering in terms of seminars and 121 sessions; you may learn something new.

  5. Follow up – When you come back with a bag of brochures and business cards, share the information with your colleagues and contact the people you met. Relationship building starts here!

What should you do after?

Once you’ve attended franchise events and talked to franchisors and franchisees, you’re on your way to starting your franchise journey. As a quick reminder, here are the next steps to owning a franchise.

  1. Make discovery day count. This is the name of the meeting between you and your potential franchisor. It usually takes place at the company’s headquarters and it’s a chance for you to experience the brand, culture and people involved in the business. First impressions count, so it’s important to trust your gut before entering into a franchise agreement. Prepare questions to ask and be ready to get into the details of the agreement. Find out how much support the franchisor will provide while you’re setting up your business with elements such as recruitment and training.

  2. Choose your location. If you’re getting all the right vibes after discovery day then it’s time to get down to business and choose the ultimate location for your new business. For some businesses location will be more important than others. For restaurants and shops, for example, footfall is the difference between the success or failure of a business. Most franchisors will help you find a suitable site. If you choose a location on your own, then this will need approval from the franchisor.

  3. Secure funding. Having a robust business plan will ensure you know exactly how much money you need to start franchising. If you need to apply for a bank loan to raise the capital, the same business plan will help you prove the viability of the franchise opportunity. Some banks specialise in franchising and will give advice if any additional funding is needed.

  4. Speak to the experts. When you’ve met your franchisor, chosen the location of your business and secured funding, and you’re about to sign on the dotted line – STOP. Before you commit, make an appointment to see a specialist franchise solicitor who knows the intricacies of how to start a franchise. A franchise agreement can be an intimidating document so having an expert to help you make sure that it meets the British Franchise Association Code of Ethics is a must.

Top 5 reasons to attend a British Franchise Association accredited exhibition.

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur and you think you’d make an ideal franchisee, then you’ll need to do as much research as possible before you get started.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to do this is to attend a franchise exhibition. These events can tell you all you need to know about buying a franchise so that you can make an informed choice.

Here are just five reasons why you should attend a franchise show:

1. Access to informative seminars and industry experts

Deciding on the brand you’d like to invest in is just one step on the path to franchise ownership. Once you’ve chosen a franchise, you’ll need to take several steps such as creating a compelling business plan and securing finance, before you can become a franchisee.

The most significant advantage of attending franchise exhibitions is that all the experts and specialists that you can learn from are all under one roof. By attending seminars and gaining advice through one-to-one meetings, you can continue on your franchising journey much more confidently.

Most franchise exhibitions include seminars and panel Q&A sessions. The National Franchise Exhibition, for example, gives you the choice of attending over 60 presentations and workshops as well as a range of interesting seminars, listening to inspirational keynote speakers, and attending advice clinics. These sessions are great for getting all the information you need which would be almost impossible to get online.

2. You get to meet franchisors face to face.

Of course, there is some research you can do online. When considering franchise brands, you can find out about the business via industry press. Many franchises also have a separate franchise website to their customer-facing version which will give you information about the opportunity. Very often case studies or testimonials from existing franchisees will be used to bring the opportunity to life.

As useful as this is when you’re performing your due diligence, there’s no substitute for meeting the franchisor in person. The relationship that you develop with the franchisor will be a huge factor in your success as a franchisee, and so it's essential that you get to meet before you sign the franchise agreement.

If your core values, work ethos and long-term goals are aligned with those of the franchisor, then your route to success will be much smoother. Having a face-to-face discussion right at the beginning of your franchising journey makes sure that you don’t waste valuable time considering a brand that isn’t a good fit.

3. A chance to chat to franchisees

Another benefit of attending franchise exhibitions is that you’ll get an opportunity to meet with existing franchisees. You’ll also get the chance to chat with them and ask questions about what it’s really like to run a franchise business.

Existing franchisees will be able to give you an honest account of what it’s like to be part of a franchise, how much support they receive from the franchisor and how long it took them to make a profit. You should make the most of this opportunity to help you make an informed decision about the best franchise to invest in.

4. Make contacts

As well as the franchisors and franchisees that attend franchise exhibitions, there is also a considerable number of professionals that will be available to network with. You'll get to meet with specialists in franchise law, accounting, and finance. If you’re impressed at a clinic, workshop or seminar that any of these professionals are hosting, make a point of talking to them after the session and requesting a business card.

The more valuable contacts you can make at franchise shows, the more help you call on to build a successful business once you make your decision. Remember, the steps that are involved in buying a franchise, such as securing finance, reviewing the franchise agreement and creating a business plan, can all be daunting if you’re a first-time franchisee. By making the most of the contacts you’ve made you can get your business up and running sooner, rather than later.

5. It’s free to attend

Despite the wealth of experts and advice on offer at bfa-accredited franchise exhibitions, the tickets are completely free. Just pre-register for an event, and you can discover more about the wonderful world of franchising without having to put your hand in your pocket.

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