07.05.2024 - Articles

Maximizing Your Experience at Franchise Conferences: Tips from Industry Leaders

Franchise conferences and trade shows are pivotal events for anyone involved in the franchise industry. These gatherings provide unparalleled opportunities for networking, learning, and discovering new franchise concepts. However, with the sheer volume of events available both nationally and internationally, it’s crucial to approach these opportunities with a well-thought-out strategy.

Whether you're a prospective franchisee, a current franchise owner, or a franchise professional, selecting the right events and preparing adequately can significantly impact your success. Here's how to make the most of these valuable experiences.

Choosing the Right Franchise Conferences

The first step in making the most of franchise conferences is selecting the events that align with your goals. With a plethora of options available, from local expos to international conferences, it’s essential to be discerning.

Tailor Your Choices: Research the focus and audience of each event. Some conferences, like the International Franchise Expo (IFE) in New York City, cater to a broad spectrum of attendees, including investors, career changers, and franchise brands of all types and investment levels. Other events may be more specialized, targeting either franchise seekers or franchise professionals.

Seek Recommendations: Franchise experts recommend leveraging the community’s collective wisdom to determine which events are worth your time. “When choosing franchise events to participate in, you should ask around,” advises Red Boswell, President of IFPG and a veteran of about 20 franchise shows annually. “Franchising is one big family of folks who love to share. They’ll tell you which ones are the best for what you’re looking to accomplish.”

Preparing for the Conference

Once you’ve identified the right events to attend, preparation is key. Planning ahead can help you navigate the hustle and bustle of large conferences and ensure you make the most of your time.

Research and Plan: Allan Greer of Vya Inc. emphasizes the importance of planning. “Plan ahead, determine what sessions you want to attend, and be ready to make new friends.” Before you arrive, review the conference agenda and identify the sessions, speakers, and exhibitors that are most relevant to your interests.

Comfort Matters: Franchise events often involve long days and extensive walking. As someone who has attended numerous franchise shows, I can’t stress enough the importance of wearing comfortable shoes. Sneakers are perfectly acceptable and will help you stay comfortable throughout the day.

Be Ready to Engage: Engaging with a wide range of attendees is crucial. Jade Blevens of Beauty Bungalows suggests, “Meet as many people as possible, from Zors, Zees to suppliers. You can always learn something new.”

Maximizing Your Time at the Conference

While at the event, focus on engaging fully and making the most of every opportunity.

Network Actively: Franchise conferences are excellent for building relationships. Aaron Harper of Rolling Suds recommends introducing yourself to as many people as possible and adding value to each interaction. “This is a relationship business, and some of my best friends are in franchising. This didn’t come immediately though; it took years of nurturing relationships.”

Stay Open and Curious: Michael Iannuzzi of Citrin Cooperman highlights the collaborative spirit of the franchise community. “To make the most of your time, attend the sessions, be open to speaking with people, and share your story. People in the franchise community are looking to give back and help you succeed.”

Gather Information: Michael Hyam from the National Franchise Show advises attendees to absorb as much information as possible. “Soak in all the information and visit the exhibit hall. The wealth of information you will obtain is invaluable from all the franchise experts!”

Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek out learning opportunities. Linda Nguyen of Morrow Hill suggests doing your due diligence before the event and being proactive in your learning. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Prior to arrival, research the sessions you would like to attend and the suppliers/brands you’d like to connect with. Last but not least, HAVE FUN!”

Set Goals: Eric Schechterman of Unleashed Brands emphasizes the importance of having clear objectives. “Have goals to achieve and separate yourself from sounding like everyone else.”

Overall

Franchise conferences and trade shows are rich with opportunities for learning, networking, and business growth. By selecting the right events, planning effectively, and engaging actively, you can maximize the benefits of these exciting gatherings. Learn from the experiences of seasoned franchise professionals, and apply their tips to make the most of your next franchise conference.

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