The best franchisors turn exhibitions like this month's National Franchise Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham into megabucks, hauling in prospective franchisees with well-presented stands that bum with activity, and going away with a clutch of good leads.
Others pay thousands of pounds for stand space, and blow the chance to make a good impression. Pack your stand with too much information, staff it with people chomping on a sandwich or looking bored, leave it messy and cluttered--and you might as well, says one seasoned exhibition visitor, hang up a sign saying 'go away'.
So how do you turn exhibitions to your advantage, engaging the minds of eager franchisees and making sure you make the most of your investment? 'Exhibitions are a real opportunity, and new franchisee leads are like gold dust,' says former franchisor John Scott, who has taken a consultancy role for new franchises including Onepoint, Petpals, Ann Summers, Prontaprint and TNT, and who won the Stand of the Show award at a recent Australian exhibition.
"Making an impression is simple--you need a strong visual impact and memorability. At one NFE, I worked with Little Impressions who simply had a gigantic picture frame with impressions of children's hands, and they had 200 leads. Six months into the company's life, they had 12 franchisees.'
Making that initial impact is crucial, agrees Duncan Berry, sales and marketing manager at Cartridge World and former exhibition executive for Venture Marketing Group. 'Project a clear message about what the franchise actually does through any graphics or signage,' he advises. 'And have something relevant to the franchise opportunity on the stand to …