Planning to attend The Franchise Show for the first time? Not sure how to prepare? Read these tips for success from past attendees who are now successful franchisees with companies they discovered at The Franchise Show.

1. Assess yourself
Before you head out to The Franchise Show, determine what type of business interests you and what you can afford. “Know what you can handle financially and where you want to take it,” says Bob Tuttle, a franchisee with Boston Pizza. “Do something that interests you and make sure you invest with an organization that you personally connect with and share the same values.”

Kitty Cho, a franchisee with Kumon Math & Reading Centres, agrees. “Without passion, you can easily lose your focus and get side-tracked.” A great place to start your search is, CFA’s official online member directory, where you can search for franchises by category and investment level.

2. Do your background research
Once you’ve identified a few franchises that fit your criteria, start doing some preliminary research. Look through the online exhibitor list and review each company’s listing. Once you have some background information, start preparing to meet exhibitors face-to-face. “Have a list of questions to ask and things you need to know to make a well-informed decision,” says Driverseat franchisee Esterina Autore.

3. Keep an open mind
While you might have an idea of what your dream franchise looks like, keep an open mind. “Be open to new ideas and visit all of the booths,” says Oxford Learning franchisee Michael Choi. “I went in with the intention of keeping my previous business and ended up going all in with Oxford Learning.” You should also keep an eye out for brands you may not have heard of. “Pay attention to new brands and young franchise businesses,” says William Lui, who discovered a new concept called Driverseat while at The Franchise Show in 2014 and is now a franchisee with the company.

4. Do your due diligence
“You need to do your homework,” says Jessica Pang, who owns a Druxy’s Famous Deli in Markham Stouffville Hospital. “I spent quite a lot of time looking at all of the other opportunities out there, researching, going to their head offices and meeting the staff.” Scholars Education Centre franchisee Abrar Hussain agrees. “Find out about the market, the industry and then the local available market and what the franchisor is offering.”

5. Be prepared to follow a system
Franchising offers a proven business model, training and support but it’s not for everyone. “Ensure that investing in a franchise is the correct move for you,” Michael Choi recommends. “Franchises are unique in that franchisees execute a proven business model to be successful. Business owners that want full autonomy in making decisions might struggle in a franchise system.”

So, if you do ultimately sign on to be a franchisee, be prepared to follow the franchisor’s system. “You’re paying for an organizational system that, if implemented properly and consistently in your business, will all but guarantee success,” says Oxford Learning franchisee Peter Dyakowski, a professional football player who recently won CBC’s “Canada’s Smartest Person” competition. “Dedicate yourself to your training and commit to making sure you pass that dedication and passion on to your staff.”

Click here to read more Franchise Show Success Stories