How to Make the Most of Your Franchise Expo Experience

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Adam Heitzman - HigherVisibility

As 2014 winds down, it’s time to start thinking about how you can get creative and what new initiatives you can get involved with in the New Year to help your franchise grow.

Setting up a booth at a trade show is one way to help develop your franchise by actually meeting potential candidates face to face. Those visiting a franchise expo are likely there to learn more and are further along in their research than many of those who are still researching online. In other words, you’re getting very targeted traffic and, even better; you get to respond to it as directly as possible.

Tips to Leveraging Franchise Expos for Franchise Development

If you have a franchise booth at an expo, you want to make sure that you make a lasting impression. This isn’t always easy because while you might have the best people attending and you might have the best avenue to respond, you also have your competition right there in your peripheral vision.

Below are a few tips and tricks that will help you accomplish your goals and stand out amongst potential franchisees:

1. Pay special attention to who you put in charge of your booth

The person you put in charge of your booth is probably the most important thing to keep in mind. Initially you might not want to send your top salesman to the event, but this is the place for your best. You have to make sure that the person in charge is very knowledgeable and able to help, but I always say that personality is just as important. In fact, it’s almost more important when it comes to a trade show.

You want to lure franchisees in first and give them a good look at your business and then send them to the owner and technical experts in a follow-up meeting. Those who are high-energy are going to show that your business is one someone should want to work for, which is one of the most important things to notice initially before learning more information.

2. Setup a workshop a few hours before the trade show

This is a great option not only to make candidates feel more comfortable, but help give you a feel for what to discuss at the actual expo. It helps you find the people who are interested in your specific business as well as understand the goals of those attending. Remember, trade shows are always different depending on a variety of factors such as location, time of year, etc., so holding a workshop before every single trade show is key.

Also keep in mind that you can discuss more topics than simply owning or buying a franchise. Some people are there to learn more about franchise SEO, (which you can learn more about on our website at www.highervisibility.com), or how to manage content, which you can learn more about at www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/2013/02/content-marketing-franchise-level.

You’ll be surprised at the varying levels and goals people come with.

3. Have materials set to go for people at all different levels of the franchise process

This is probably the most obvious thing to remember, but part of being prepared is having all of the information you possibly can in different documents. Have pamphlets for those who walk right by as well as for those who stop and ask questions, those who seem very serious, etc. Overdo the copies!

4. Be sure to ask candidates questions as well

This is another point that will really set you apart from your competition.

Many franchise owners come in with all of the answers and forget the power of engaging the candidate through questions of your own. You don’t have much time to make that first impression, so let them know that you value what they are looking for right away. Ask them about the industries that interest them, what they wanted to learn from the trade show, why they’re interested in franchise ownership, etc.

5. Coordinate a follow-up discussion before they leave your booth

Don’t just get someone’s number and information—actually plan that next follow-up right there on the spot. This won’t always work of course, but it’s a good idea to at least try and have an idea of when you will speak again.

If coming up with a meeting time right away isn’t possible, make sure to follow-up on your own within three to five days after the expo.

As an extra tip, I would try to ask about financial aspects and intentions first. This certainly should not be your opening line, but before really following up with someone you want to make sure that you are a good match (and they’ll appreciate it, too).

It is also a good idea to write something unique down about the person so that you can remember them when the time comes. This isn’t always as easy as you might think going into your first expo, so give it a try.

How to Get Involved with Franchise Expos

Typically in order to get a booth at a franchise expo all you need to do is visit the franchise expo website and request exhibitor information. For example, you can check out one of the expos coming up next, The West Coast Franchise Expo at http://www.wcfexpo.com. The button or link is usually very visible, and there are always FAQ pages if it’s your first time, that talk about how to setup your booth, requirements for having a booth, etc.

Adam Heitzman is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO firm that offers a full range of Internet marketing services.

For more information: Website: www.highervisibility.com