The are successful franchise concepts out there that deserve your scrutiny, but which ones? Whereas just a few years ago people were shopping for a second income or side business, franchising today often represents a career change —sometimes out of necessity. This makes “due diligence” that much more important, so let’s go shopping.
The West Coast Franchise Expo is the largest franchise show on the west coast, and it’s a great place to start. It would take months to chase down all the information you may want from the 100 franchisors that will be there October 2-4, and that’s not even considering all the information that is available at the free seminars and discussions that will also be available during the show. Here’s what you need to know about financing, evaluation criteria, and special programs for Veterans and Minorities.
But you need a plan of attack to get the most out of your day. Here’s some suggestions:
- Narrow Down Your List. I know, that’s always the first think everyone says, but you need to come prepared. Start at the WCFE Website and review who is going to be there. You’re not interested in all these concepts—maybe you don’t want to be a painter or a tax preparer, but graphic arts or cruise ships. . . .hmmmmm.
- Do Your Homework. OK, now you’ve got your A list. Go to their websites and see what they have to say. You may even find they’ve been on The Franchise Show before like FAST SIGNS or Cool Cycles Ice Cream, and you can listen to the founders and top execs to hear what they’ve got to say—and whether you’d consider being part of their team.
- Travel Light. I find when I go to any type of ‘trade show’ that I come back with a monster bag of brochures, business cards, flyers, engraved pens, balls that light up when you bounce them—you know, all the stuff you save for a few months and then trash. Leave it there.
- Work Your Plan. You know who you want to see, so make them first, and since you’ve already done your homework, you’ll have a good idea of what you want to find out. If the representative can take time to talk in depth with you, that’s great. Otherwise, set up a time during the day when you can talk one on one.
- Choose the Right Help. You’re making a big decision, and an even bigger investment. You may want to consider getting advice from a “consultant”, but beware, a consultant has to have hands-on experience with franchising, not just a salesperson in disguise, or a journalist long on advice but short on life in the trenches. If you thought choosing the right dentist was tough. . . .
Listen to Tom Portesy and Joel Goldstein discuss the West Coast Franchise Expo—it’s a good primer, and I think you’ll benefit from it. Then follow the steps above. After all, when looking for the right franchise opportunity, and putting it in the right location, let’s get it right—right from the beginning!
Hear Jeff live on The Franchise Show every Friday at , and at the upcoming Franchise Expo in