Franchise Buying Guide

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Attending a Trade Show
Presented by Guidant Financial
Guidant Financial specializes in helping entrepreneurs purchase new franchises using their retirement funds.

Now that you've got an idea of the industry you're interested in and the financial requirement you can commit to, try visiting a franchise trade show. They're a terrific way to gather a lot of preliminary information and survey the field in a short period of time, and you can find them in most good-sized cities.

When attending a franchise trade show, keep a few thoughts in mind. First, remember the companies exhibiting at the show by no means make up the entire universe of franchise opportunities. In fact, these events showcase only a small selection of the available franchise programs. Second, you should take full advantage of the information available. Stop by the booths of all the companies that fit the business profile you outlined in your goal--planning sessions. Leave your name and address with those companies that interest you. Ask questions, and listen carefully to the answers. Gather handouts and take notes. You'll get a good feel for franchise discourse, the questions to ask and the key sales points in any program.

Use this guide to help you make the best of your franchise trade show visit.

Before the Show:

  • Think about what you're seeking from a franchise. Part time or full time? What type of business would you enjoy? Consider your hobbies and passions.
  • Figure out your financial resources. What is liquid, what can you borrow from family and friends, and how much do you need to live on? What are your financial goals for the business?
  • Get serious. Dress conservatively, carry a briefcase, leave the kids at home, and take business cards if you have them. Show the representatives you meet that you're a serious prospect.

At the Show:

  • When you arrive, study the floor plan of the exhibitors listed. Circle the businesses you recognize or that look interesting to you. Make sure you stop by these booths during your visit.
  • Don't waste time. Pass by the sellers who are out of your price range or don't meet your personal goals. Have a short list of questions ready to ask the others: 1. What is the total investment required? 2. Tell me about a franchisee's typical day. 3. What arrangements are made for product supply? 4. Is financing available from the franchisor? 5. Ask for a copy of the company's FDD. Not all franchisors will give you a copy of the FDD at the show. This is perfectly acceptable, but if you're serious about investigating an opportunity, insist on a copy as soon as possible.
  • Collect handout information from all the companies that interest you. Also gather business cards.

After the Show:

  • Organize the materials you collected into file folders. Then read through the information more closely.
  • Follow up. Call the representatives you met to set up meetings and gather more information.
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