Franchise shows have experienced an exciting rebirth during the past few years. The annual International Franchise Expo in Washington, D.C., as well as regional shows in the U.S. and international expos, have provided a valuable recruiting venue for generating qualified buyers. But not everybody is jumping aboard. Some franchisors confess they aren't interested in trying this successful, revitalized lead source.
Actually, this no longer surprises me. Franchise shows require out-of-town travel, working weekends, and aggressively following up once you're back in the office, in addition to juggling the slew of tasks that piled up while you were gone. It's harder work than sitting at your desk and receiving email or broker leads, and some sales execs don't want to make the effort. But for those of you interested in selling more franchise buyers, shows and seminar events could be a great addition to your marketing plan.
Cautionary note! Make sure you are well prepared to exhibit at the show. If not, you can make critical mistakes that cost you sales opportunities. First, attend a show before you participate: walk the aisles, note the better booth designs and props that are attracting attention, observe how sales people approach visitors, ask questions and present their concepts, and how they get interested candidates to complete inquiry forms. Pick up any handout materials to get a sense of what may be appropriate for your business. Check out the food franchises that offer samples of their sandwiches, ice cream, cookies, smoothies, and other products. The questions you must answer in advance are: Will it be worthwhile for you to display or distribute some of your products? Should you bring your service van, as some franchisors do?
Every year some restless franchisors pull the trigger too soon, signing up for a trade show without proper preparation. Too often start-up franchises participate before their franchise program is ready to market. Results can be disastrous. It's "show time" for your concept, so make sure you are at your best when you hit the stage. Bad reviews will spread fast.
Focused, targeted marketing efforts in advance of a trade show can generate greater return on your investment of money, time, and resources. Here are some ideas that have proven effective:
Next month: At the show.
This is an excerpt from my book, "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world-class franchise system faster." Order copies at www.franchise-update.com/magazine/growtogreatness/.
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