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By Lauren d’Entremont

The Franchise Show is coming to a city near you! The Franchise Show is in Toronto on October 22 & 23, and in Vancouver on November 5 & 6. Here’s some tips to help you get the most out of this franchise trade show.

1) Prepare beforehand

Research industries that interest you – What are you passionate about? What is the average investment level? What kinds of skills/qualities to most franchises in this industry look for in franchisees? Learn more about the market in which you would likely operate your franchise.

Visit www.thefranchiseshow.ca and go through the list of confirmed exhibitors. Create a “must-visit” list of brands and make note of specific questions you want to ask.

2) Bring only the essentials

You’re going to be receiving a lot of printed information – brochures, fact sheets, business cards, etc. – so you may want to bring a sturdy bag to collect it all in.

You may want to consider leaving your children at home with a friend, relative or baby-sitter. However, do bring your spouse/partner, as well as anyone who will be investing or working in the franchise with you. It’s a big decision, so it’s good to get everyone involved in the process.

3) Keep an open mind

Though you may attend the show with a few industries or specific franchises in mind, tradeshows are a great way to be exposed to brands or opportunities you might not have previously considered. As you’re moving around the show floor, watch for any booths that catch your eye and explore them further.

4) Step right up

Don’t be shy, step right up to the booth and start asking questions. Everyone is there to provide more information on their franchise system and are prepared to answer your queries.

5) Take notes

You’re likely going to spend a few hours at the tradeshow, having numerous conversations with representatives from multiple companies. An easy way to take notes (and remember the names of those you spoke with) is to get a business card from anyone you had an in-depth conversation with and make a few notes on it about what you talked about and any next steps.

6) It’s all about research

Generally, at this stage, it’s more about due diligence and research than decision-making. Most franchise tradeshow exhibitors aren’t there to sign contracts; meeting with prospective franchisees in this informal way is simply one step in a detailed franchise investment process.

7) Learn from the pros

The Franchise Show offers free seminars. Be sure to take advantage of these complimentary sessions, which are lead by franchise experts, industry veterans, franchise support services/supplier professionals, successful franchisees, etc.

8) Don’t forget to follow up

After the excitement of the show, the due diligence continues. This could involve continuing to research companies you’re interested in, fill out applications for the one or ones you’re really into, visit existing locations (if possible) to see their operations firsthand, discussing the possibilities with your family and co-investors, etc.

To learn more about The Franchise Show, and preregister for $5 off admission, visit www.thefranchiseshow.ca