The Franchise Expo last month was bustling with activity. There’s so much opportunity in this space that it can be completely overwhelming—especially for prospective business owners. As I talked to attendees, I noticed some definite patterns in the challenges they were facing. If you are thinking about visiting an exposition, here are some do’s and don’ts that will help you avoid common mistakes and make the most of your time.
#1 Information Overload Is a Real Problem
Planning and organization are the keys to getting the most out of your experience. You will talk to so many people that you won’t be able to remember them all. You’ll also leave with a pretty intimidating stack of brochures. Here are a couple of tips to help you sort it all out.
- If you have access to a list of the franchisors in advance, mark the ones you want to be sure to visit. Do some web research on these businesses so you know what questions you want to ask. Stick with your itinerary first, then you can spend your remaining time browsing the other options.
- Bring sticky notes to jot down the important details of each conversation and any follow up questions that come to you. When you sort through the marketing materials later, you’ll have a Post-it on each one to remind you of the main takeaways. Trust your instincts and note down any initial impressions as well. This will help you disqualify those franchises that are really a poor fit.
#2: It’s Easy to Fall in Love with a Franchise
While first impressions are important, choosing the right opportunity does require a lot of research. In the high-energy environment of an exposition, it’s easy for emotion to take center stage in the decision-making process. There may have been one booth, brochure, or sales pitch that seemed to promise you everything you’ve always wanted out of business ownership. It’s easy to get your heart set on a particular option at this early stage. But remember that you are only seeing the franchise in its best light during an expo. Don’t get married to a particular business idea until you have really explored your options.
If you are attracted to a specific opportunity, dig deep and understand why. Is it because the product or service appeals to you? Is it because of the amount of freedom it might give you in your schedule? These questions will help you identify what your priorities are and can help you in expanding your search to find additional opportunities with similar attractive qualities.
#3: The Right Questions Make All the Difference
There’s no harm in being one of the many attendees who go to a franchise expo just out of curiosity. Being in the ‘window shopping’ or early stage of consideration is fine. But you’ll get a lot more out of the event if you have some idea of what you want. For example, it’s important to look beyond what a particular business does on the surface. You might get started by asking questions such as, “What do I want a business to do for me? How will this business help me reach my goals?” Additional questions that help separate OK opportunities from great ones include, “What is unique about this business? How is it different than the competition?”
The best thing you can do before visiting a franchise expo is to sit down for a consultation with an expert. At FranNetDFW, we provide this service at no cost to you. We are happy to offer guidance through all the shiny advertising to help you find a business that will really work for you.