Navigating A Trade Show Floor: The Ins and Outs of a Franchise Expo

Attending a franchise expo—especially for your first time—can be an overwhelming experience. Yet with the right planning and preparation, it can be well worth it. With an estimated 1,500 different franchise companies operating in the U.S., it’s important to do your research and not settle on the first concept you find. So before you hit the trade show floor, check out the following tips what 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 along a pen and small notepad. 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 give-a-way. 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.

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 knowledgeable franchising veterans. Sponsored by the International Franchise Association and taking place Nov. 5-7 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—most of which are free. To register for free admission to the WCFE—compliments of Business Blogs—click here.

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