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Utilizing Trade Shows for Franchise Sales Lead Generation

by | Jun 10, 2020 | General

In today’s digital age, there are a wealth of means for franchisors to obtain leads for qualified potential franchisees. From social media promotion to SEO to targeted keyword advertising, franchisors can build a robust lead base without ever leaving their house. However, one of the tried and true methods of franchise sales lead generation does involve leaving the house (and possibly the state).

Despite technological growth, franchise expos remain a popular (and often fruitful) franchisor lead generation approach for franchisors looking to grow their franchise system.

A franchise show (often referred to as a franchise expo) is a national, regional, or local opportunity for franchises in all industries to showcase their brands in front of potential franchisees as well as other franchising industry professionals. Franchise expos allow prospective franchise owners to visit booths and displays of franchise brands that they might be interested in. This allows potential franchisees the opportunity to gather information on different franchise opportunities, speak to franchisors or other brand representatives, ask specific questions, and ultimately use this information to compare franchise opportunities in an effort determine which franchise opportunity is be right for them.

Benefits for Potential Franchisees

The main benefit for potential franchisees is that a franchise expo allows them to target key brands all in one place and to learn more about the brands’ opportunity, products, and/or services all in one place and at the same time. For example, if someone is interested in fitness franchisees, he or she can easily visit multiple fitness franchises and ask more detailed, specific, and scenario-driven questions than via an initial website inquiry or even an email exchange.

Having all of the franchises in one centralized location also allows potential buyers the opportunity to return to brands that they might be interested in and ask follow-up questions. This is an important part of the comparison process.

Benefits for Franchisors

The first benefit for a franchisor is oblivious: most of the people at a franchise show are interested in possibly purchasing a franchise. Many of the major franchise shows boast upwards of 15,000 attendees, thus making franchise shows appealing for franchisors.

One of the major benefits of franchise expos is that as the franchisor, you have the ability to speak to potential leads in person. This not only allows you to quickly qualify them, but to also let your brand personality shine through.

Another major benefit is the ability to have an in-person, one-on-one conversation with potential franchisees. Whereas an email is generally an exchange of pre-determined questions and answers (on both the part of the franchisor as well as the franchisee), an in-person conversation opens up the door for follow-on questions and detailed explanations.

The franchisor can also immediately provide visuals or other relevant exhibits such as product samples, branded materials, drawings and diagrams, and more. From the lead’s perspective, it is always better to experience the franchise as “hands-on” as possible.

Another benefit from the perspective of a franchisor is that franchisors can generally gauge a lead’s interest and likely qualifications more accurately based on an in-person exchange than via electronic or telephone communication.

Effective Lead Gathering at Franchise Shows

Franchise shows (especially the larger one) can often be somewhat chaotic and potential franchisees (as well as franchisors) may feel overwhelmed at first. Many franchisors feel the need to make contact with every single person who even glances in their direction and to get as much information as possible.

However, all 15,000 people in attendance are not likely interested in your brand- and this has nothing to do with you. Some might be experienced restauranteurs looking to add to their food and beverage portfolio. Some might be mothers of small children looking for child-based franchise systems. Some might be elite athletes who have come to explore niche boutique gyms. However, all of these people might come by your booth- especially if you have food or another in-demand giveaway.

One way to quickly gauge interest is to simply ask: “What are you looking for today?”

If a person is specifically only interested in a fast casual restaurant and you’re a children’s play center, then wasting energy on that person is unlikely to yield fruitful results. Be polite, but also know that they are

It is important to have multiple lead capture forms or methods- especially as it gets busier. Leads may enter information on paper forms, tablets, or at some expos, through badge-scanning technology. It’s important to get every lead that you can while they are at your booth and enter their information into your CRM as soon as possible.

It is also important to make notes about the leads that you speak with and to enter all notes into your CRM while the information is still fresh in your mind.

How to increase your Franchise Sales Lead generation?

In most cases, even the most interested lead is not going to sign a franchise agreement on the spot. This is why it is important to make not just a great first impression, but to also build the foundation for a lasting impression- and one that will ultimately lead to a sale. The following are some tips for how to best maximize your franchise show impact.

  1. Be Engaging: There’s nothing worse than seeing a franchisor sitting at his or her booth texting on their phone and not engaging with leads. You are a representative of your brand and your words, actions, and body language should reflect the passion that you have for your brand.
  2. Showcase your brand personality: Even though your booth space may be limited, try to show as many of your products and services as possible. If you’re a cleaning franchise, demonstrate some of your cleaning techniques. If you’re a restaurant, offer samples of your best-selling menu items. If you’re a gym, let visitors perform some of your trademark exercises using a few pieces of small equipment.
  3. Develop Your Elevator Pitch: Franchise show visitors pay a lot of money to attend expos and want to make sure that they see as many brands as possible. Your elevator pitch should be under a minute in length and be enough to draw them in and have them asking you for more information. Your elevator pitch should give a brief overview of your products or services, touch on what makes your business model unique, state what makes demand for your product or service sustainable, and allude to how your franchise offering can help the you build a franchise lead sales generation strategy
  4. Know our competition and be prepared to answer questions: With 15,000 or so leads, you are likely not going to be the only shop in town. Odds are that your competitors are there targeting the same lead pool as you. It is important to be able to articulate your competitive advantage as well as have prepared responses to frequently asked questions.
  5. Ask questions: One of the most effective franchise sales techniques does not involve telling, but asking leads questions to help them understand their pain points and desires and to help them see themselves in the role of a potential franchisee.

It is also important to note that franchise expos are just the start of a potential franchise relationship. It is crucial that you take copious notes and document your communications as well as measure your efforts. If you have any questions about crafting an effective franchise sales lead generation strategy, please contact us today to learn more about how we can help