A franchise exhibition is a valuable marketing tool that franchisors should take full advantage of. There are several exhibitions throughout the year, and with over 900 franchise brands operating in the UK, you can be sure that each one is full of franchisors promoting their business and prospective franchisees looking for the right opportunity.
And while trade shows are an excellent place for the best franchises to meet ambitious entrepreneurs, there are several things you should take into consideration before you decide to attend.
Attend the right trade show
Firstly, you need to give some thought to which trade show is right for you to promote your business at. It's essential that you do some research beforehand to ensure that the exhibition that you’re considering is right for your brand.
One way to make sure that you exhibit at well-organised events that are consistent with your brand is to attend one of the five British Franchise Association (bfa) accredited exhibitions that take place each year. This will give you the confidence that you’re exhibiting alongside other bfa member franchises.
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You'll need to pay to be allocated a stand at an exhibition, and that can be costly for franchisors just starting out. But remember, it's an excellent investment to meet quality candidates that are serious about becoming franchisees.
You should always try to negotiate the price of exhibiting too. There will be different prices depending on size and location of your stand and whether you are promoted on the exhibitors’ website and exhibition material.
Of course, large, well-publicised exhibitions such as those run by the British Franchise Association will be costlier to attend, but you’ll get access to more prospective franchisees and benefit from the ‘buzz’ surrounding the event.
Promote the trade show
Invest some time into letting people know that you’ll be exhibiting at an upcoming event. To do this, you could:
- Send emails to previous applicants
- Use data from your website to contact people who downloaded your franchise brochure in the past
- Advertise on recruitment pages on social media
All of these approaches are quick and cost-effective. By getting the word out that you will be attending a trade show in advance, you can make the most of your exhibition fee. Prospective franchisees will jump at the opportunity to meet the faces behind the brand and get their foot in the door.
Find the best stall
If you want to compete with the more recognisable franchise brands, you'll need to secure the right spot at an exhibition. They may come with a hefty price tag, but if you book early you have a good chance of securing a prime spot.
It's worth scoping out a location before exhibiting. Attend other conferences at the same venue a few months before, even if it is a wedding fayre or a comic convention. This will give you an idea of the best place to request a spot for your stand. And remember that positioning yourself right by the entrance might mean that you’re bypassed altogether.
Grab the attention of future franchisees
In an exhibition full of the best franchises in the country, your stand needs to be prominent and grab the attention of attendees. You can do this effectively even on a small budget.
Make your stand bright and colourful with prominent use of images. Also, think creatively about the use of lights, sound, displays and your signage. They will all help you to entice attendees to see what your franchise has to offer.
Don’t play it safe or you risk blending in with everyone else.
A great way to draw people’s attention is to have an introductory video playing on loop. Use of hand-drawn graphics in a short, but informative video will entice attendees to your stand, and when the video has finished, you have the perfect opportunity to start a conversation about your business.
Don’t underestimate the power of freebies
And possibly the most effective way of making people feel compelled to visit your stand is by giving away goodies. You want to give something away that is both eye-catching and relevant to your brand.
To ensure that the cost of the free items pays off, brand the items and make them useful (like a pen) so that they’re not just discarded after the event.
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Have all the right information to hand
If you’re exhibiting at a franchise trade show, you need to have your facts ready. Keen attendees will want to know the ins and outs of your franchise package to make sure that you offer a sound investment opportunity.
There’s no better way of enticing new franchise partners than by showing them what they can earn. By providing profit projections, based on the performance of prior franchisees or your own experience, potential franchisees can make an informed decision about investment.
But attendees at a franchise trade show will want to find out more than just profit projections. These lot are the keenest of the bunch and will want to get to grips with every inch of your proposal.
With this in mind, consider providing information on the following areas of your franchise package:
- Investment costs
- Sales reports
- Franchisee case studies
- Brand history
At a trade show, you need to be able to talk to attendees about all of these subjects. So that you have the right expertise with you, consider bringing along people that specialise in different areas of your business.
Take down contact details
Once you have the attention of attendees, ensure that you engage with them and take down their information. Have a team of enthusiastic franchisees to help you answer any questions that visitors to your stand may have and take some contact information to follow up with.
When the exhibition is over make sure that you follow up on the leads that you worked so hard to secure as promptly as possible. Get in touch with the people that you engaged while you're still fresh in their memory.
After all, if they were attending an event, then it's highly likely that they're ready to invest. Give your franchise the best possible chance of getting the right candidates on board by being proactive.
If you don’t put the effort in to support potential franchisees after the event, then the time and cost of exhibiting will be wasted.
Stay in touch with potential franchisees
It’s pointless gathering contact information if you’re not going to follow your enquiries up. To make sure that attendees don’t forgot about your franchise opportunity, you may need to jog their memory by getting in contact with them.
With the help of the internet, it’s now easier than ever to stay connected. Here are some ways that you can stay in touch with attendees after the event has closed its doors:
- Personalised emails
- Connect with them on LinkedIn
- Invite them to an exclusive webinar
Sending a follow-up email to an attendee that has visited your stall is a great way of making them feel valued. They will appreciate the fact that you’ve contacted them personally to address any specific enquiries that they had.
Connecting with attendees on LinkedIn is another useful way of staying in touch with them. From then on, all of your business updates will appear in their feed and they’ll be kept up to date with the moves that you are making in your market.
By hosting a webinar, you can provide an opportunity for attendees that visited your stall to connect with each other. Together, they can raise any joint concerns they have about your franchise package and you can settle any unnecessary nerves.
Organise a private meeting
In business, there’s no replacement for a one-to-one interactions. Alongside staying in contact with attendees over the web, you could also invite them to a private meeting to discuss a potential business relationship.
With just you and them in the room, potential franchisees may find it easier to raise any worries they have about joining your company. This could be any of several things, including:
- Problems with raising investment capital
- Concerns about lack of experience
By addressing these worries in person, you can convince potential franchisees that they are on the right track. There is no better place to do this in a private meeting which, unlike a public event like a trade show, is an appropriate opportunity to discuss financing.
Upcoming franchise trade shows
If you’re interested in putting these tips to the test and attracting new franchisees, here are some British Franchise Association accredited exhibitions for you to attend:
Where: radisson blu, Glasgow
When: 12th September 2019
The National Franchise Exhibition
Where: NEC, Birmingham
When: 4th and 5th October 2019
The British & International Franchise Exhibition
Where: Olympia London
When: 31st January and 1st February 2020
Tickets are free for individuals that pre-register to attend, so get the word out that you’ll be exhibiting and give them a reason to come to speak to you about your fantastic franchise opportunity.
James Muddimer , Point Franchise ©