Franchising · 14 January 2019

Make January the month to prepare for a franchise exhibition

Franchise Exhibition
The National Franchise Exhibition – October 2016

Pip Wilkins, CEO of the British Franchise Association (bfa), is adamant that you cast away the January blues and begin your franchise journey with a bang.

January is a time for many people to simultaneously reflect on the previous year as well as the New Year ahead. It’s common to start setting personal and professional goals and of course make a doomed new year’s resolution. While it may all seem glittery and exciting in the lead up to New Year’s Day, it can be hard keeping up that optimistic momentum in the weeks following, especially when you realise how long January is. But I think this month is the golden opportunity to get your franchise cap on and learn about the sector in time for the various franchise exhibitions on offer in 2019.

Begin your franchise journey

I believe this is a month of preparation and bringing goals to life. So for those who have become interested in franchising, now is the perfect opportunity to get that all important due diligence done in time for the two major National Franchise Exhibitions that are being held in February. The International & British Franchise Exhibition in London Olympia is on 1-2 February and later the National Franchise Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham on 15-16 February.

The bfa is in partnership with both of these, ensuring that businesses who want to exhibit are members or will have to be fully accredited by us to be at the event. It’s important that while you do your own research, you also have quality time with industry experts who will cut out any noise that you would usually get from the limitless but not always useful info on the web. You can book free tickets for either of these events here.

Don’t get lost in the crowd

Franchise exhibitions are big, so I would suggest that you carry out initial research on the attendees, workshops and seminars to ensure that you get the most out of your visit. Think about which sector you would like to go into and make a list of all those that will be at the exhibition.

Kate Dilworth, the Recruitment Franchise Manager of Right at Home, a homecare provider of premium quality care and support services to adults and older people, emphasised the need for groundwork before heading off to an exhibition: “A number of our franchisees joined Right at Home after we met them at an exhibition. They’d all made an initial enquiry beforehand, using the bfa exhibition to meet us for a chat. We recommend you carry out some research in advance, then when you are at the stand, you already have ideas to explore, and time to ‘browse’ and compare and contrast franchisors’ offerings.”

An instant connection

Many go to the exhibition to find that special connection with a business, one that makes you think ‘that’s the one!’. One person who felt this was Dave Bellis, a franchisee for Radfield Home Care, a family run company which has been providing home care services for over 35 years. With both of his parents being diagnosed with dementia in recent years, Dave knew he wanted to own a business that provided quality homecare.

“I first came across Radfield Home Care at the National Franchise Exhibition in October 2017. I went along to the show in Birmingham to get a better understanding of what opportunities were available and to learn more about what’s involved with franchising. I knew I wanted to do something that gave something back to my local community, and older persons care was close to my heart as both my mother and father were diagnosed with dementia in recent years – which meant I had first-hand experience of the struggles of sourcing quality home care services. There are a number of home care franchises out there to research, but when I met Radfield at the exhibition, I immediately felt a connection with them.”

Bellis has now operated his Radfield Home Care franchise covering the northern Liverpool area since the beginning of 2018 and relishes being a franchisee. 

Personal time with the pros

Not only will there be plenty of businesses to look into, but there are many franchise expert-led businesses that are there to arm you with the proper information. These include solicitors, consultants and accountants, so it really is a time to take advantage of the free advice that is on offer.

Kate Dilworth agrees that it’s something that can’t be replicated in any other form of due diligence. She said: “When you speak personally with people in franchising, you gain a real-life, one-to-one insight of the industry, and its pros and cons. You’ll receive preliminary information about lots of franchise opportunities, all under one roof. Plus, you can ask questions and gather an immediate response.”

So, this may be the time to register for the exhibition and see whether franchising could be your future.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Pip Wilkins’s journey into franchising and working at the British Franchise Association started at the age of 19, just before the turn of the century. Fast forward 20 years, and she is now CEO of the association. Pip believes the thriving franchise community is one with diversity and a collective passion that is rarely witnessed in the wider business world.

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