This is a transcript from Maximizing the Franchise Expo – The Franchise Manual Podcast – Episode #33

It has been computer-generated so there are mistakes. We encourage you to listen and subscribe to The Franchise Manual Podcast.

Kit  00:00

Hello everybody you’re listening to the franchise manual podcast brought to you by FranMan WWW dot Fran man dotnet, the home of the online manual by FranMan where we convert your boring old ops manual into a user friendly interactive wiki site. The franchise manual podcast is the behind the scenes look at all things franchise in the people that make it look easy. Operating a franchise is not the same as running a small business. So if you’re thinking about franchising your business, then you’ll really need to listen to the franchise manual podcast. My partner in this episode is Tom poor tz and he’s going to talk with us today about the franchise Expo, what they are, how they work, but more importantly, how a startup franchisor can make the most of investment at a franchise Expo. If you’ve ever thought of investing in an expo event, or if you’ve been to one in the past and it wasn’t what you expected. You’ll want to listen to this episode for sure. So I’ll ask you the same question I always do. Why would you spend your valuable time listening to Tom for tz today? Well, I’ll tell you, I brought another heavy hitter to the table. Tom Ford tz was president and CEO of mfV expositions for this topic, I could not have found a better partner, you’re going to be hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth today. He has more than 25 years of global sales and executive management experience. Tom is also responsible for the global network of partners involved in MFTs emerging international online business now I know you’re tired of hearing me talk. So how about we hear from the man himself Mr. Tom poor tz the franchise manual podcast brought to you by friend man two, three. The franchise manual is a behind the scenes look at all things franchise and the people that make it look easy. We’re gonna make it right Mr. Tom Ford tz welcome. And thank you for being my partner on this 33rd episode of the franchise manual podcast.

Tom Portesy  02:12

Thank you, Kit. I appreciate the opportunity.

Kit  02:15

Great. I’m excited about it. I’m excited about it. This is a topic I’ve wanted to cover for a long time because I get so many questions about it. Before we get started, I want to give a shout out to Stan Friedman, because he’s the one who introduced me to Mr. Tom. Stan was a previous partner on this podcast and he has a very successful podcast of his own called franchise today on blog talk radio. So if you want to get some more franchising, listening time, boy, I really do encourage you to go to franchise today and listen to Stan Friedman. Thank you, Mr. Stan. You know,

Tom Portesy  02:48

I’ve known stan for 25 years, and watched him evolve and grow in the franchise industry, but also be a big help to a lot of people. So even this introduction that was awful nice of Stan. And I remember having dinner with Stan, when he was about three hours into the franchise industry.

Kit  03:07

Three hours. Yeah,

Tom Portesy  03:10

he was he was just into the franchise industry started I think it was with Blimpie. And he’s just been a good friend to me and to the, you know, to mfV and to the franchise industry. He’s always looking for ways to help out so thanks, Stan. I know thanks, then. Gamers to support judge of character. But thanks, Dan.

Kit  03:32

I know I know with friends like you who needs enemas, right? All right, Mr. Tom, back to you. This first segment of the episode is all about getting to know Mr. Tom Portesy. Are you up for some easy questions about your life? I am great. Great. I love learning about people’s last names. And I did some research on your last name. And this is the first time I’ve come up with absolutely nothing which is very unusual. But here’s what I did find and it’s less about the origin of your name and more about the characteristics of people with this name for whatever that’s worth. i It says and I quote, you are a natural leader. Independent and individualistic. You are extremely ambitious, original and courageous. You employ new and unproven methods. You are an explorer and an innovator yourself relaxed, confident and energetic. That’s pretty close right?

Tom Portesy  04:30

Wow. Can I can I use can you say that to my wife and kids?

Kit  04:35

Yes, I will let them hear this. It’s not just me that thinks that right? Yeah, leave. Well, that’s pretty cool stuff. What do you know about your family history? Do you have any any cool stories? Where’s, where’s your family come from?

Tom Portesy  04:48

I am third generation American. Both both sides were Italian. So I’m from Northern Italy. So I’m from Southern Italy. But my great grandparents came over.

Kit  05:03

Do you still have family that you keep in touch with in Italy by any chance?

Tom Portesy  05:07

I don’t. And I’m embarrassed to say that but I would go embarrassed because you know, those who did keep in touch and no longer around and for whatever reason we didn’t make those connections and I really feel terrible about that. We’ll regret not doing it.

Kit  05:21

Well, the worst thing about it is you don’t have a free hotel. But now when you go to Italy, you got to pay for hotels instead of staying at a family’s Hey, exactly. All right. You’re from Jersey City, New Jersey. That’s right between the Hackensack and the Hudson River a stone’s throw away from the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Manhattan and all that fun stuff. I asked Dan some the same question because I grew up in a small town of 100,000 people in North Texas. Tell me about growing up in the big city. What was it like?

Tom Portesy  05:51

So Jersey City is the second biggest city in New Jersey, but it literally is on the Hudson. It sits on the Hudson. My high school if you looked out the window, you were looking at downtown Manhattan. Oh, wow. That’s cool. It was pretty cool. We didn’t appreciate it to the extent we should have at the time. But looking back now it was pretty cool. Big City. Lots of neighborhoods within it. And neighborhoods were very ethnic. So if you grew up in the neighborhood, I did. And you spoke Italian it was okay. Because the butcher and the baker and the candlestick maker all spoke Italian. So my great grandmother, so my great grandmother lived in the in in the US for you know, 60 years and never spoke English really well. But it wasn’t necessary.

Kit  06:40

Now did you? Did you grew up speaking Italian, or I grew

Tom Portesy  06:43

up I grew up understanding Italian. Okay, my father and his family spoken fluently. My mother’s family spoke it but didn’t. So we didn’t speak it in the house. So I learned to understand that a lot better than speaking.

Kit  06:55

Okay, so that’s my next question. You come from an Italian family. Tell me about your parents. Were they strict? Were you the typical, you know, tight knit Italian family? What were they like?

Tom Portesy  07:06

We’re still very close. Right? So I’m one of six children. Unfortunately, my dad died when I was 15. And I was the second oldest. So we got even closer as a result. But I talked to them. Just about every day, at least one or two of my siblings and my Oh, wow.

Kit  07:24

That’s fantastic. That doesn’t happen very often. As a matter of fact

Tom Portesy  07:27

that we bought a small condo in Clearwater, Florida, which we sneak down to all the time. And if you look out my front door, you see my mother’s back door. Oh, and that needs through this courtyard. And around the corner is my brother. And down the street is my aunt, and directly next door and my mother is my sister.

Kit  07:46

Oh, my God. Oh, there goes the neighborhood.

Tom Portesy  07:52

We’ve invaded the neighborhood. But I do come back exhausted every trip down. So and welfare of it too. And welfare. My wife is a great cook. She learned to cook from my mother and my grandmother. And I have three daughters who try and outdo each other. So one of the things we do really well here is eat

Kit  08:12

and that great. Now tell me this. Were you a textbook child or were you a troublemaker growing up?

Tom Portesy  08:16

I was a good kid who I don’t want to say got in trouble. But it was hard not to get in a little bit of trouble to Jersey City. I know. Tell me about the biggest trouble you got your stuff. I can’t do that on the air. Oh. But the second biggest silly little things that kids do. You know at some point growing up in the neighborhood I did you make a decision. Am I going to go left or am I going to go right, sir. And you know those fortunate make a right, those not so fortunate make a left. And I happen to know a lot of people on both ends of that.

Kit  08:57

Dang it. I was hoping to hear a good story. All right. You told me off the air that you recently celebrated your 40th wedding anniversary. Congratulations on that one. That’s a big deal. Tell us about your lovely wife and your four kiddos.

Tom Portesy  09:08

So my lovely wife is Vanessa, who I met in high school at Dickinson High School in Jersey City. And I have four children. My oldest is 32. And my youngest is 2324. That’s a good spread. Yeah. So it’s three girls and a boy girl boy girl girl,

Kit  09:31

as anybody following in the footsteps of pomp.

Tom Portesy  09:35

My oldest works for a company that produces conventions and conferences in the pharmaceutical industry. Okay, so they it’s almost like a speaker’s bureau. But she doesn’t know it’s similar to my business so she would never get into it. Don’t tell her

Kit  09:51

she might leave Don’t Don’t tell her. It’s the same. She might leave.

Tom Portesy  09:54

That’s right. Because right if I’m doing it can’t be that cool. And my son is I’m a technology recruiter from a big company. And I have a daughter who is a hairdresser who is an ex Marine. Oh, wow.

Kit  10:11

And where did she serve? We certainly do appreciate her service to the

Tom Portesy  10:15

service. She was she was based in San Diego. She was deployed a number of times, one in the South China Sea. And she’s, she liked the rest of my kids are pretty competitive. She was a competitive soccer player, as was my youngest. And my son was a ballplayer actually played baseball in college and went to the World Series. Hey, that’s cool. So

Kit  10:41

like, he didn’t just go attend the World Series, he went.

Tom Portesy  10:46

Like, I went to Harvard, right.

Kit  10:50

I’m gonna start telling people that I went to Harvard. It was a great day, we had so much.

Tom Portesy  10:56

And my youngest is about to graduate law school. She is a semester away.

Kit  11:03

Ah, that is fantastic. But you’re tired of paying for that.

Tom Portesy  11:06

Listen, that one. I’m telling you. That’s, that one’s on her.

Kit  11:09

Okay, great. So read was on you and lost

Tom Portesy  11:12

her mind at least at least that’s the plan will say.

Kit  11:16

Somebody’s gonna have to cough up money at some point. That’s right. Tell me about your first real job. And then tell me about what was the first job that made your resume? Oh, boy, I wanted. So I felt like throwing papers or something like that.

Tom Portesy  11:31

Yes. Handing out lemonade, ice scooping lemon ice, really? Across the street. For me. That was that was probably my first job. And then lots of summer jobs with you know, recreational programs. And and then, let’s see I delivered furniture in the South Bronx.

Kit  11:52

So your know, your you know, hard work, you know, like to sweat and in earn your money? Yeah, absolutely. And I think I think that that’s a problem with a lot of people today is they’ve never worked hard. And when they’re asked to work hard, they don’t know how to do it. Some of them don’t. Yeah, not a good blanket statement. But that sure does occur a lot. And and so I really appreciate it when people come in and say, You know what my first job was, you know, I was an assistant lumberjack or something like that. It’s like, Good lord. That’s hard work. Yeah, we worked our tails off and we earn very little money. But we learned work ethic and we learned pride and craftsmanship and getting our work done properly.

Tom Portesy  12:30

Yeah, I think I think we’re fortunate kid because I think the people our age did that. So we learned we learned from them. Yeah, my grandfather really taught me a work ethic. He worked for Sears, he delivered appliances and furniture for 40 years for Sears. That’s a tough job. And I don’t think he’s ever missed a day in the cold in the snow.

Kit  12:51

I think that’s an All right. So real quickly, take me from that first job, all the way to MF v. And you don’t have to go into too much detail. But give us an idea of where you came from how you got to where you are today.

Tom Portesy  13:03

So I was working at a company in Manhattan, which was the holding company, the North American holding company for gold mining company and I was involved in Office services. So we had this magnificent office in midtown Manhattan. As a matter of fact, our boardroom was the boardroom, they filmed that very famous scene in The Godfather, where all the families are together. That was our boardroom. That’s cool. So we were there. We were just married. And it was my first kind of corporate light job. And my degree was in communications with a marketing public relations concentration. And it was a British company. And at the time, there was rioting in the mines in South Africa. And they had me covering little fluff stuff. And I said, You know what, I’d like to get out of here. So we moved to Florida. And I started working for a company that was producing local computer shows. And we were producing so much printing, we decided to get a printing press. So we got a printing press about what year is this? 1902 It seems like so I was married in 81. So it had to be 8283. Okay, ish. So we were doing so we should start selling retail printing why we haven’t press so we started doing that. And then we started selling it specialties and lo and behold, we created a franchise, which was an instant printing franchise and sold tons of franchises. And what was it called was called Print shack. Okay,

Kit  14:31

were you kind of in the in the New England area? Or did you did you spread out across the United States?

Tom Portesy  14:36

We were throughout the US, right so this was in Florida. So we were based in Tampa, Florida. And yeah, it was it was a great run. I left that to go start to produce shows myself Okay, and opened an ad agency and had some really good shows and had some really bad shows. So what kind of shows were these? I did everything from car shows to I did as marketing and motivational X Well, just small local shows that were consumer based, right. And then I left there, and I wound up going to work for a company that produced shows in the franchise industry. I said, it’s the two things I know, it’s probably the only thing I’m qualified for trade shows and franchising, so why not? So I started there as a trade show exhibit salesperson, and the rest is kind of history kid. I went from there and wound up heading up sales, and I wound up being a Group Vice President and wound up being president CEO.

Kit  15:32

And so that that is an MF V. Is that correct? Correct. Okay, so what does that stand for?

Tom Portesy  15:37

So it stands for Mark franchise ventures. Okay. And the reason that name came about because we’ve had lots of different names, we will, you know, our company was acquired probably eight times during my career. Oh, wow. But my franchise ventures, it was a joint venture and 50% ownership was the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. The toy was owned by the Kennedy family. Oh, wow. And that was a great experience. Do you have any brushes with greatness I did work with and report to at some point, Chris Kennedy, who was Bobby Kennedy son, great guy, a lot of fun, good business guy. And one of the people that left a big mark on me was at the time, the President, CEO of the Merchandise Mart, a gentleman by the name of Joe Hagen,

Kit  16:17

tell me about what he did. How did he leave a mark in your life?

Tom Portesy  16:20

I’ll tell you one of the things he did that was I try so hard to emulate, but I’m not as good as Joe was not even close. Joe was responsible for the Merchandise Mart building and all its businesses, which was very, very significant. And the Merchandise Mart to put in perspective, had its own zip code. I mean, it was a huge building that had tons and tons of tenants, and it had exhibition space, and it had its own shows. So he was responsible for all of this. And whenever I had to meet with him, I felt like what I had to say was the most important thing he could imagine. He made you feel that way he made you feel that way. He didn’t take any phone calls, he wasn’t looking at a phone, he wasn’t staring it. He just listened intently. And I try so hard to emulate that. As I say, as I’ve never been as good, not close.

Kit  17:04

I think that’s a great quality. I’m certain you know, Catherine Monson with to request signs, I was trying to get her on the podcast, and I was in and we never could get our scheduling wrapped up. But I was also trying to earn their business. And so they’re just down the road from me, but 20 minutes away. And I went in and I got an appointment with her and I was sitting down and you know, you have all these these ideas about who the person is. And she comes in, and she’s, you know, she’s busy. She’s got the busiest calendar of anybody I know. So she’s actually working on stuff as she’s walking into the room with me. And I’m thinking, okay, here we go. And she puts everything down. And she absolutely focuses on exactly everything I’m saying, and she’s listening and nothing else, nothing else gets to interfere. And the second time I went back a second time, and I had the exact same experience. And she remembered everything we talked about asked about my kids. So boy, people who really mastered that, that’s, you know, it’s really it’s really appreciated by the other party. So that’s a great trait to have and something great to practice.

Tom Portesy  18:07

The times I’ve spoken to Katherine, I’ve gotten that same feeling is, you know, it is a talent and it’s sincere. I mean, you can’t do that. Right.

Kit  18:16

I agree. Well, that’s a fantastic story all the way up to mfV. Mr. Tom, you have made it all the way to segment two of the podcast. Congratulations. Thank you, the audience loves you, the audience, you can hear you are betting against that one. I didn’t know what was gonna happen. Could be either disaster or success. And welcome to my world. Let’s say you are definitely very qualified to address our topic today. Probably the most qualified person on this planet, actually, in that topic is the franchise Expo and how a franchisor can use it to grow their business. Are you ready to start segment two?

Tom Portesy  18:58

Absolutely.

Kit  18:59

Great. Me too. Let’s start by giving a short definition of a franchise Expo for all the new franchisors who have just entered the world of franchising and they don’t really know what one is, what happens there.

Tom Portesy  19:12

So I’d say in its simplest explanation, a franchise Expo is an event where franchise companies who are looking to expand exhibit and there are individuals who attend who were considering going into business for themselves and thinking franchising may be the best way to do it.

Kit  19:30

Okay, so what mfV was doing is creating a marketplace so you’re marketing to the the prospective franchisee, so you’re doing all these ads, and whether it be today’s digital marketing or print marketing back then, but you’re bringing prospects in so that they can see the exhibits of the franchisors who are looking for prospective franchisees, is that correct?

Tom Portesy  19:51

Exactly, exactly in the trade show exhibition business. Our job is to bring buyers and sellers together.

Kit  19:57

Great. That’s exactly what I thought it was. Now tell me A bit about the early days of franchise expos. Who did the first ones and what were they like back then? I mean, because now things have to be

Tom Portesy  20:08

completely different. Well, you know, you have to go back pre internet. Right? So

Kit  20:14

the people exist back then? No.

Tom Portesy  20:17

So, you know, at the time, if you were thinking about going into a franchise, or you wanted to know what a franchise was, right, you would you would go to one of these shows every show has a an educational component to it. There are seminars and workshops, as well as you know, the exhibition, but you would go there. And typically, you know, you would just starting the process, you heard about this thing called franchising, you weren’t sure it was about, you did want to get into business for yourself. So you went to one of these shows, and as a result, we were doing 70 shows a year at one time who have more than one every weekend, you have must have teams of people that time we did you know, we go back to the days where we own two trucks full of equipment, okay, that would go from show to show and set up, we’d have a team that would sell exhibit space, we’d have a team that was responsible for marketing and the team responsible for operations. Okay, but it was very cookie cutter at the time, right? It was easy to get people to a show, you just did, you know, some basic advertising and certain ways and you knew you were gonna get a few 1000 people

Kit  21:14

to show up, because I like radio and newspaper type stuff. Yeah, radio, newspaper, television,

Tom Portesy  21:19

okay. And, you know, it was very simple. Hey, you want to be in business for yourself come to the franchise Expo learn. And it was a simple message, which in some cases isn’t much different than today’s message. But those people were brand new in terms of their search. And that was it, we’d have somewhere between 70 and 200 exhibitors all looking to expand in that specific location geographically, right. And the attendees were people who said this, and I’m gonna go see if I can find a great opportunity.

Kit  21:50

All right. Now, when you said those people were new to their search, the difference in today is that we’ve got the internet, I cannot imagine being a prospective franchisee and starting my search back in the 70s, when I was growing up, or the 80s 70s and 80s, where you didn’t have the internet, and there was no place to go to do research. And today I can research almost any franchisor and get their FTD. And I can black and know so much before I even meet them for the first time. And back then I had to be very different.

Tom Portesy  22:20

Yeah, that’s that’s a great point kit. And I think that that’s what fundamentally changed about the business. Well, most businesses, but we’ve we went from 70 shows a year to four or five in the US. And the attendee for our events now are people who, you know, they’ve done research, they’ve talked to franchisors, they probably visited locations, they’ve read an FTD in many cases. So they’re on step three, if you will, of a seven step process.

Kit  22:48

Okay? Does that change your message and how you get them in?

Tom Portesy  22:50

It does because we have to talk to them a little differently, they are more informed. They know what questions to ask the education at our events has to get better and better.

Kit  23:01

Oh, it can’t be to kindergarten for him. Right? There’s gotta be more more advanced topics,

Tom Portesy  23:05

right? So they want to know about the financing. And they want to know how what traditional financing is what SBA loans are all about? How can you use their 401 K and it’s just a more sophisticated conference program than it’s been.

Kit  23:19

All right. That’s an interesting background. All right. kiddos, sing along. If you know the words, I’m Pedro with who chose burgers and I’m selling these things fast. Hell you think I was giving them away if you walk past my burger joint and didn’t know any better? Everyone loves him, and I’m the only one who’s making them. So I want to franchise I need my FTD a franchise agreement from friend man and my ops manual from friend man, I’m ready to start moving these babies. So I sign up for my first franchise Expo. Wait, wait just a minute. I just signed up for an expo. Boudreaux knows burgers, but he they’ll know nothing about franchise expos

Tom Portesy  24:03

as great. Mr. Tom,

Kit  24:06

I think that one of the biggest mistakes that the boardrooms of the world make when they attend their first Expo as a franchisor is that they don’t properly manage their own expectations about the outcome of the event. You know, I know that as a vendor at our first IFA convention when friend man showed up several years ago to our first IFA convention. I had these illusions of returning with armloads of orders and, and I was sorely mistaken. I mean, it was a it was an awakening. What should Boudreaux objective be when he’s attending his first Expo? What are What should his expectations be? Let’s start by, by that we’ve kind of defined what an expo is. And now I’ve signed up for one, what should I expect?

Tom Portesy  24:50

Well, your job is to go there to talk to interested parties, as many as you possibly can to explain your business as quickly as you possibly can. Right, to qualify as quickly as you possibly can, and leave with good quality leads.

Kit  25:06

And that’s different from what people who haven’t been educated or explained where they’re coming in thinking

Tom Portesy  25:12

what so the question we always ask when we’re doing some type of presentation to help people be more successful at an event? What’s your objective here? And the hands always go up? We’re here to sell franchises. Well, no, you know, you can’t do that, right. You can’t sell a franchise, and you’re not going to convince somebody to buy your franchise at a trade show. What you’re going to do is excite somebody, you’re going to get them interested in the concept. And you’re going to schedule some type of follow up. In some cases, it’s when you get back to your corporate office, and you go through the process, and you bring them into that process that you normally use. In some cases, people stay inside the city, and they schedule one on one meetings for the next two or three days. Okay, that’s smart. Yes. And you know, as I say, to most, it makes a ton of sense to do that, right. You’ve already paid to exhibit you’ve paid for the plane fare, you’ve paid all of the cost for the shipping and so on, stay an extra two, three days, meet with people. And it gives you an opportunity at a trade show to say to a prospect after you’ve qualified them. And they certainly have an interest to say to them, Listen, I’m going to be here. I’d love an opportunity to meet with you. I can’t afford to spend the time you deserve right now. Because I’m at a trade show. And you know, I need to talk to a lot of people. But I would love to give you that opportunity to sit down, read some information and ask all the questions you’d like. So how about Monday,

Kit  26:32

right? And then you just fill up your your Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and you spend an extra What $600 On hotel exactly, well, you’re striking while the iron is hot, and you firmed up some great leads, turn them in from warm leads to hot leads.

Tom Portesy  26:43

Exactly. And what most successful franchisors do is exactly that. And in addition, they scheduled meetings and they invite prospects that they’re working with to come visit them at the show or at a meeting. When you invite a prospect to come see you at a show. You’re basically saying to that prospect. Hey, Mr. Mrs. Jones, we’re going to sell franchises in this marketplace. With or without you. Now we’ve been talking, we’ve been working together, I’d love an opportunity to spend some quality time with you while I’m here, come visit the show, see all the other opportunities, you’ll see how we stack up against them. Because prospects are looking at other opportunities anyway, on paper on paper, right. And so a little bit different when you’re in person. Right, especially the emerging franchisors because there’s such a great opportunity to be in the same arena as the big guys. So you’re standing next to these big significant franchise companies. And you look and feel like one?

Kit  27:41

Sure. No, I think that’s cool. I’ve been to I’ve been to some of your expos. And it’s really exciting. There’s a lot of energy there. Yeah, there’s a lot of excitement, energy, and you can feel it in the air. People are walking around, and they’re, oh, my gosh, look at this. And they’re sampling stuff. Like that’s really neat. Are there certain rules that apply to expos and what I mean by that is, are there do’s and don’ts that Boudreaux should know about before he attends his first one? Because he’s going to drop some money? I mean, these things aren’t free. So it’s an investment? And what are some of the do’s and don’ts when you’re saying, Hey, before you come in? And also it kind of kind of related to that is, Do you do any kind of training before they get there to help them have a more successful Expo?

Tom Portesy  28:23

Well, we do things just like we’re talking about, right. So we may hold an online webinar, to talk to him about how to do it, and what to do and so on. But it starts long before you get to a show, right? You want to make your plans early, you want to make sure that you have your airfare and your hotels, you don’t want to wait till the last minute your price could double. Right? Right. So you want to do that. You want to take advantage of the fact that you’re going to be in a city, right? So you want to meet with prospects that you might be working with there. You want to see real estate, maybe you want to meet with a realtor to there. You want to get a good feel for that market itself. Right. Okay. You don’t want to set up your booth or your display the first time when you get there, you want to set it up before you leave. You want to find out that that one pipe is missing before you get there.

Kit  29:05

We had our set up in our kitchen. There it is.

Tom Portesy  29:10

ahead of most, you’re ahead of most first time exhibitors. But yeah, you want to set it up, you want to make sure everything is good. And you want to talk about it. You want to talk about how you’re going to work to show with the team, right? The most one of the most important things is what do you say to somebody as they’re walking by? Right? So I remember doing a show and some guy was I said, How you doing? He goes I don’t know. He goes, You know, these people just aren’t giving me the time of day and it happened to be a show in New Jersey coincidentally. And I said, Well, what are you saying to him? He said, I’m saying to them? Are you interested in looking at a franchise that you don’t want to buy this do you? And I said well, I said listen, that if they’re not saying anything to you, they’re probably being nice because what they want to say is no, I’m here because I have nothing better than I am here wasting my time. So Oh, I would get right into, you know, Hey, would you like to hear about this sign business? Oh,

Kit  30:05

that’s great. That’s the hardest thing to do. And I don’t have any experience exhibiting at an expo but at the IFA convention, where you have people walking past, and you have to very quickly learn how to judge nonverbal communication, and to pull people in. And the hardest part is to get him to cross that threshold. And once you get them across the threshold, then they’ll sit and talk to you. Right. But other than that, if you can’t get them to cross that threshold, it’s almost impossible to have any meaningful conversation with them.

Tom Portesy  30:33

Here’s a crazy thing, right? So crowds get crowds. So if you’ve got two, three people that you’re talking to, in the exhibition business in the franchise shows, you want more people to join in. You want to catch them up on that conversation, right? And our exhibitors, for the most part, they have the electronic badge scanner. Yep. So they can scan those badges, they can make little notes about that prospect, but you want to get the prospects and you want to, as you say, I mean getting past that threshold, but you need to have an opening line, you need to have something that gets people to want to stop

Kit  31:03

and talk. Do you teach them how to do that? Or is that you just tell them they need to have one?

Tom Portesy  31:08

Why don’t we tell them we need to have when we tell them as in the case I just mentioned, don’t do that. That’s not a good one.

Kit  31:15

Here’s what not to do, go for what to do.

Tom Portesy  31:18

That’s right. But each business is different. Right? Each business has a vote. I mean, if I am a Dairy Queen, I want to tell the prospect how’d you like to have the whole winter off? Oh, yeah, that’s like a business where you spend the whole winter off in a nice, warm place. That’s what we do.

Kit  31:33

That’s what we do. Come on in. Let’s talk about that. You know, on the topic of the point you made earlier that crowds draw crowds, I would ask Jerry Darnell to come over to our booth. And he’s he was a friend of mine. And I said, Jerry, come over to sit here for 20 minutes. Okay. Okay. So he would drive a scooter over in everybody wants to talk to Jerry Darnell. And we would have all these people at our booth. And it would people would just come in and say, Oh, what’s going on over here that curiosity, and then we would have meaningful conversations with people that that wouldn’t normally have crossed that that threshold.

Tom Portesy  32:03

I was a big fan of Jerry Danelle Sherry Darnell has probably helped me in so many different ways throughout my career, as he has so many people.

Kit  32:12

Oh, absolutely. He was a big loss. He was the first partner on the franchise manual podcast.

Tom Portesy  32:17

Is that right? Very, I’m

Kit  32:18

starting a podcast, we’d be my first he was absolutely. I had to mail him a recorder because I didn’t know how to do all the recordings. I’ve mailed him a digital voice recorder. I’ve said let’s hit record at the same time. And we ended up doing that. And it was a fantastic Episode Episode number one. He was a dear friend of mine. Yeah, same here. Okay. So I want to get back to those do’s and don’ts. We said do plan your trip in advance, do put your booth together to come up with as a line to get people to attract people to cross that threshold, do come up with a plan for organizing your leads. What else? Are there any more do’s and don’ts on your list

Tom Portesy  32:53

do reach out to people you’d like to meet with while you’re there, right? Do have a system in place where you can either have somebody doing the qualifying and then somebody else doing a little bit more in depth. Right? Sometimes they do little seminars right in the booth. Sometimes they do seminars off the floor. Okay, right. So if you could talk to groups at a time, even better, okay, you have the presentation down. And don’t do the things that are common sense. Don’t eat in a booth. Don’t sit there on your phone, don’t sit, right. Don’t sit behind a table, don’t put a table out front. It’s like a barrier between prospect make them feel like they want to come into the booth have something in the booth in the back that Apple always

Kit  33:32

put the table at the back. So if they want to grab a brochure, they’ve got to actually cross that threshold, grab one. Exactly. Or I walk in halfway and they kind of cross that threshold and then they stop and talk so I think that’s fantastic advice. That’s good. You listen, you’re pretty good exhibitor. Oh, I know. It’s hard being perfect.

Tom Portesy  33:49

I’ll tell you. Well, you know,

Kit  33:52

there’s another do or don’t that I always that I always think about too, after doing my first trade show in a previous life was don’t wear a new pair of shoes for the first time at a trade show.

Tom Portesy  34:06

And I wish I could say I’ve never made that mistake. I’ve made it too many times in my career. I should know better.

Kit  34:14

By the end of the day, you’re in a wheelchair. It’s like, I can’t take another step and my feet hurt so bad.

Tom Portesy  34:20

Don’t do it all night.

Kit  34:23

I know I don’t see how those people do it. They go out and eat drink all night and they’re back the next day. It’s like cow Lee.

Tom Portesy  34:28

I’ve actually watched someone talk to me for a second and then turn to walk into the show obviously hung over in such a way where he walked into the door jamb?

Kit  34:40

Well, it’s hard. There are a lot of people that haven’t seen each other for a year and yes, and they just want to have fun. You know,

Tom Portesy  34:46

we did a show in Nashville. I think it was our first show since the pandemic. And it was hysterical because everybody was just dying to get out and everybody was out of practice. And everybody celebrated a little too much. It’s a bit, it was fun. It was a lot of fun.

Kit  35:07

It’s great. So let’s see, what about giveaways? Are you a fan of those or think there’s a waste of money, they little tchotchkes or stuff,

Tom Portesy  35:17

I am a fan of it. I’m a fan of it to the extent if it’s something that’s going to be kept, alright, if it’s something that’s going to just keep that brand in front of somebody, because don’t forget that talking to a lot of different companies. But if it’s something that’s just gonna get thrown away, I just saved the money.

Kit  35:33

All right. Those are, that’s a good list of do’s and don’ts. I think that’s a good starting point. And just for the reference of the listener, we’re going to have all of these in our show notes. So don’t worry about having to take notes. As you’re listening to this.

Tom Portesy  35:46

I think the biggest point that everyone has to keep in mind at the show is two things. Number one, understand it’s this three dimensional show, right? So people can look and see and taste and you know, smell. It has all the senses. It’s what you can’t do in any other medium, right? And chances are, you’re not going to sell a franchise without a face to face. The fact that you’re first meeting in some cases is face to face, helps a ton. Let them see what you’re doing. If it’s food, let them taste it. If it if it’s a service, show how the service is done, demonstrate get something of interest to somebody, let them see it.

Kit  36:18

Yeah. And what people I think also need to know is that this is a qualification meeting on both sides. Yes, it’s not just you measuring them up, they’re also measuring you up, there needs to be a chemistry here. And if there’s no chemistry, let them walk. Because what you don’t understand is you’re about to get in bed with someone for a minimum of 10 years such a great point. And that’s the worst. And most, most marriages don’t even last that long. And you’re about to start a relationship with this person, get your questions down solid, so that you walk away with a really firm grasp of who that person is and how they’re going. If they’re, are they going to raise the bar? Or are they going to lower the bar, you know, of all of your franchisees?

Tom Portesy  37:01

It’s such a great point. And also the the speed of follow up, don’t follow up with these people like you would if it was an internet lead. And I’m not saying anything wrong with internet leads, we have an online lead generation business, but it’s different. They’re not going to go with that speed that past that speed. Right, put them into your your typical follow up process.

Kit  37:21

We’re going to talk a little bit more later on in just a little bit about the follow up. Because I think that’s that’s an entire point on itself. So hold those thoughts for just a bit the expression, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression that is tried and true. How does paying attention to what you look like apply to the franchise Expo a

Tom Portesy  37:42

ton, right. So your point that you just made is a great point, you’re about to go into business with somebody that you’re going to trust with probably the money you’ve accumulated over years and years and years, you’re betting a ton. So you’re going to have to have that good feeling right off the bat. And appearance, unfortunately, or fortunately has a lot to do with how people are perceived.

Kit  38:03

Sure. And we’re not just talking about your personal appearance, but the appearance of the booth, right? Correct.

Tom Portesy  38:07

You know, it should have like these picture words on it too, right? It should have something it should have something that gets attention, something on that booth should get your attention booth graphics

Kit  38:18

that seems that that’s a question that I didn’t have on my list. And I think that’s a beautiful topic. Because so many times you walk past a booth, your booth is like a billboard, and someone’s gonna drive past a billboard and be in front of it for a second and a half. And you have to have an image on that billboard, that is going to convey your message that fast. And if you can’t convey it that if I have to sit there and read it, I’ve got to pull the car over and read it. I’m not going to no one’s going to do that. And the same thing applies here. My opinion, your image needs to convey a ton of information. But it’s got to be fast in disguise to pull them in. In so many times. I’ll walk past someone’s graphic and the back that they’ve set up and I have to ask them, What do y’all do? Exactly. And if I have to ask that question, that’s an epic failure. Yes. And no. Oh, let me let me just Yeah, I hear what you’re saying. Now,

Tom Portesy  39:08

if you got my attention, you have my interest. Right, if you have my interest, and I have to ask you that question. I got you.

Kit  39:15

That’s true. But I think that’s a bad gamble. I think that’s a bad deal, because most people are just gonna keep walking by.

Tom Portesy  39:24

But what I mean by that is a question on the graphics that says, Tell me more about that. Yeah. Did you know that the industrial cleaning business is a $7 billion business? Really? Okay, so that’s

Kit  39:37

great. But when you walk past one, and it says something like Apex ventures and there’s a picture of a man holding a book, you have no idea what is Apex ventures? What do y’all even do? I’m going to keep walking. I’m not going to ask and I guess my point was, if I have to ask I haven’t. You haven’t done a good job, but if I guess if you can get people to come in and ask what you do, that’s it. Boom, hook, line and sinker.

Tom Portesy  39:58

Now that’s good point. I think you Did you have another way for the exhibition?

Kit  40:03

What do you do later on buddy? Oh, that’s great. Okay, when I’m on a site visit with a new client, and we’re writing their manual, I sometimes ask my client, if they know the value of a lead, and they’ll either say, I don’t know, which is a red flag right there, or they they talk about the cost of getting a lead? Well, it’s worth, you know, we spent this much on advertising, so therefore, it’s worth X amount of dollars. But rarely do they know the future value of a lead. And what I mean by that is, what’s the potential monetary value of a lead if this lead closes? After adding up the franchise fee, and all the royalty revenues for the first 10 years and possibly 20 years, right? What is that number? Not to mention, if that franchisee is one of the great ones, and he helps you attract even more franchisees, their value is exponential. So my question is this talk to me about the importance of follow up after the expo, you know, understanding what the value of that lead is to help them put importance on developing some system for managing those leads.

Tom Portesy  41:06

So that’s a great point. And when someone tells me about what that paying for lead, I immediately say, Listen, you have to get that out of your head, you have to think about a cost of acquisition. What is it costing me an advertising promotional dollars to sell a franchise? Because if you’re telling me you’re paying $25, a lead for lead online, I guarantee you I could sell you leads all day long for $5,000 a lead if one out of every two closes. So forget the cost per lead, what is it costing you per acquisition, and the only way in my opinion, you could determine that is you must brand every lead that comes in. It is so important. And so many times when you say brand, every lead helped me every lead that comes in, I need to know where that lead came from, I need to source it, I need to source that lead, I need to know where it comes from, I need to know how much I spent in that medium. Therefore what my cost of acquisition is from that medium. You know, I always say to our people, guys, it’s so important you understand the process of a franchise sale, and your clients have to know what it’s costing them to sell a franchise because we are the most miserable medium in the world.

Kit  42:21

Why do you say that I don’t understand that

Tom Portesy  42:22

we ask our clients to go and prepare, as we just discussed, fly to a strange city, stand on their feet for two or three days, kiss their family, goodbye, come back to a ton of work and follow up, we better be the best return on investment for advertising dollars, well, we would be out of business. And if they don’t understand that they can’t value a lead at a trade show the same they they value a lead from some online, again, including our own, it’s a different situation. So therefore, you know, when someone say, Well, you know, what does it cost me to sell a franchise at a trade show? I said, well, listen, they go, Well, we pay you X i go Yeah, and that’s only a part of it. What was your airfare? What were you spending? Right? We eat and lobster we

Kit  43:05

always eat well on when they

Tom Portesy  43:08

put it all together? Take that dollar amount. And what did you do as a result of the show? Well, I sold two franchises. Well, you just cut your average cost of a franchise sale in half compared to other mediums.

Kit  43:21

So that still focusing on one side of the equation and forgetting about the other side. I guess the reason I focus from an outsider’s perspective, I guess I’m focusing on the other side of the equation. Because what I see is, in its work, it works for us too, it’s the same thing for us. But for a franchisor, it’s a little bit different. There are a lot of moving parts in the valuation of that of that prospect. I have a prospect here. And if I dropped the ball, and they don’t follow up with them properly, then my opportunity cost here is a $30,000 franchise fee 6% royalties for 10 years, possibly 20 years. So that comes up to number that can be anywhere between 300 $500,000 or more half a million dollars. And am I going to let that lead fall through the cracks if it’s possibly worth half a million dollars? Exactly. So I don’t really focus on the cost of getting that lead. I focus on what is that lead worth? And it really does help like fires to underneath people who are saying, Yeah, you know, I’ll call him back later say you call him back now, because that’s what this thing is worth and you’ve it because someone else is going to call them back sooner and you’re going to lose

Tom Portesy  44:29

that edge. So it probably is the most important part of this entire discussion is how do you make sure you went through the effort you went through the expense and so on? How do you make sure that you are following up effectively, efficiently with everyone? Because these people are looking a lot of different opportunities. And I would say more often than not the decision is made in favor of the company who follows up the best

Kit  44:54

so there’ll be as much of an emotional decision as it is a financial decision. How do they feel when they return? asking those people that they feel like you cared about them that they feel like they were not a number but but a person,

Tom Portesy  45:05

right? Did you tell them what you’re going to do? Did you say, Listen, I’m going to take this we’re going to meet, if you’d like to meet on Monday, if not, this is what’s going to happen on Tuesday, I’m going to do this, on Thursday, you’re gonna get an email, I’m going to provide you with this information, and so on, and so on. And you follow through with that, because that follow up is telling a franchise a prospective franchisee, that, that’s how efficient and professional you are. And that’s the organization, your representative of the organization, they’re going to be buying a franchise, and they’re gonna be basing their decision on as you say, what the feeling is about meeting these people, how they perceive these people, but also how you do business, it’s going to tell them so much about what they could expect. And it’s

Kit  45:46

almost like a precursor of like this what to expect? I think that’s a fantastic point. So do you recommend to them how to how to track leads, how to keep track of them and do anything? Or is that something that they need to come up on their own?

Tom Portesy  45:57

Well, I mean, many of them have their own systems for following up on leads, right? So they may have these automated systems and so on, I caution all of them to start on step four, as I said, as opposed to starting from the beginning. They’re past that. Right. So do it and do it quickly. The fact that they came to a tradeshow, whether they’re from that city, or they flew in from another city, you know, our show in New York, we have people from 50 states and 100 countries, these people are making an amazing effort to get there sure, treat them to that level, treat them in such a way where they know that you you appreciate the effort they made.

Kit  46:31

Yeah, acknowledge it. I think that’s that’s simple enough as to just even acknowledge that, hey, I really do appreciate the effort you made to come all the way here, that’s fantastic. The fee that the prospective franchisee pays is relatively low, it’s like normally, it’s like seven or 10 or $15. It’s that designed to generate revenue, or is that really designed to give them some skin in the game, so they put more value on it or both? The whole idea,

Tom Portesy  46:53

you know, the revenue at the gate is not something that we count on a ton, because the whole idea is to qualify that person coming in. Now, if they’re coming from one of the mediums that you know, we partner with, they get a complimentary pass, we know they’re predisposed to buying a franchise, right? They’re coming from a website, they’re coming from a magazine lead, they’re coming from somewhere where the people who are looking or visiting or reading are people predisposed to buying a franchise in that situation. They’re coming complimentary on behalf of that medium. All right, so we’ll let them in. It’s those people who wake up and say, Yeah, I’d like to go in. And so we want to, we want them to drive into the city, we want them to have to pay to park, we want to charge them 10 To $20 to walk in the door. Not that that qualifies them. But it better qualifies them. It just

Kit  47:40

takes them up a notch to secure someone who’s just wants to go for a Sunday stroll and say, oh, let’s just walk in, they’re not going to pay $20 I think that’s smart. You know,

Tom Portesy  47:48

the other thing we didn’t talk about, or we did a little bit, they should look at this as time chips, they only have so many time chips to invest.

Kit  47:55

Okay, go into that. I don’t understand that. Exactly.

Tom Portesy  47:58

So you’re at a trade show, you only have you know, whether it’s two days or three days, so many hours a day. So you should look at it like you have a stack of time chips, how much of my time shifts? Do I want to invest with any given prospect? And I think a big mistake that people make or they feel like is that the more time they spend with a prospect, the better qualified they are. And sometimes it’s the opposite,

Kit  48:19

right? Because you have people that just want to talk your ears off. And they yes, they never are serious about anything. And you need to figure out that’s a fantastic point. And

Tom Portesy  48:27

the other thing too, is if you give them too much information, there’s no need for them to talk to you anymore. There’s no need for the follow up. They believe they have enough information to make an intelligent decision, which obviously they don’t. So you want to take them you want to get their interest, you want them curious about some other things. And you want to explain that. Unfortunately, you don’t have the time that they deserve to spend that much time. So let’s schedule a call. Let’s meet on Tuesday. Let’s let’s do this after you’ve, you know did a little bit more homework. Sure. On our site.

Kit  48:59

Okay. I think that’s amazing. give them homework, and that makes them that kind of adds to the value of the process.

Tom Portesy  49:05

And it allows you to not have 42 people pass you without having any conversations because you’re tied up with one person. Got it? Yeah, to get leads. Yeah, and

Kit  49:14

maybe that’s another point that we didn’t talk on either is when a franchisor comes for the first time are you telling him Don’t be a one man show, you’re gonna need to have two or three people there because when one person is talking, they’re gonna people are gonna walk right past is that a point that you ever make?

Tom Portesy  49:31

100% It’s a great point. You have to eat, you have to go. You know, there are times where maybe one person doesn’t have somebody to talk to but they have to be available. Right? You have to have it and there’s times where you wish you had four. And you know, the bigger your booth not because we sell exhibit space but your your booth. The more people come in, the more leads you wind up with. It’s just common sense. Right.

Kit  49:55

So let’s go into that real quick. And then we’ll go the last question. A typical exhibit booth has 10 But in is that right? Correct. And then so they go up to you can get a double, which is a 2010 by 20. Or you can get any combination of those. And some people, you actually have some of these really big ones. Think about it, if a convention I think about the scorpion booth, which is always enormous and it’s they construct a building inside this place, they may have 10 or 20 people there because they have the space. But what you don’t want is to have a 10 by 10 booth and have it filled up with all your people. So many. There’s no room to stuff,

Tom Portesy  50:30

those people when you’re back home.

Kit  50:33

And I really liked what you talked about earlier about the Get off the cell phone, don’t eat if you’re going to eat, go eat somewhere else. And so when that someone walks by, you’re not stuffing your face or checking a check into text message. That’s a real turnoff for me as

Tom Portesy  50:46

well. I have, in the past on many occasions, taken a picture of somebody who’s sitting in their booth reading a newspaper sitting in their booth reading a magazine on their phone, just not even looking up. Because when boss calls me and says, you know, we really had a terrible show. So let me show you why. Let me explain to you why you probably had a bad shot.

Kit  51:12

That isn’t that you should have somebody on staff that does nothing but that.

Tom Portesy  51:16

Fortunately, there’s not many of those cases.

Kit  51:19

I think that’s beautiful and was brings tears to my eyes. So you why that is fantastic. Okay, are there certain industries or types of business that tend to do better, and some that tend to not have as much success at expos, and if so, talk about talk about that some

Tom Portesy  51:37

companies that need a very specific person as an example, if I’m a real estate franchise, and I need to reach people who have a real estate license, I would dissuade them from doing our show, because there’s easier ways to do that.

Kit  51:52

Right? So like a med spa, or you need to have a doctor? Is that what you’re saying? Well, coincidentally,

Tom Portesy  51:57

many of these emerging care don’t need a doctor, you hire a doctor, right? If I’m looking for somebody that has a very specific skill set, or very specific experience, I would recommend they look at other ways do some more industry specific to meet those people. Okay, as opposed to change. If you have a franchise that requires someone who is intelligent, has the financial qualifications and wants to be in business for themselves and looking for a cool brand you belong at our show. You just do. Because the people walking through our door, I would say 75 80% of the people have no idea what business they’re gonna go into. They didn’t wake up one morning and say, you know, I want to be in the boulder building business,

Kit  52:42

right? Curb laying or whatever. Right? Right, go and they see it and they go, Oh, that’s cool. I never knew that existed. And all of a sudden, now you have a new prospect and they never would have contacted you exactly. In the trade brags

Tom Portesy  52:54

that exactly. They see something and they say that’s really cool. Tell me how this works. Tell me a little bit more about this. Or you’re in the printing business and they see something as their attention. Listen, you don’t have to be a printer, you’re gonna hire a printer. Do you have the skills to go out and call on businesses?

Kit  53:09

Right? Okay, that’s interesting. I go to the Expos just to network, because I’m my target market is not there. Normally, it’s the salespeople for the franchise concepts that are they’re not the people that I need to talk to for the for the ops manual. But I do love to go in network. But one of the things I just absolutely enjoy is just walking through all the booths and seeing all the cool concepts out there. It’s things like oh, my gosh, who thought of that? That’s the coolest thing.

Tom Portesy  53:35

Yeah, that is great. And you know, one of the things we do have at the show is we have a supplier section, right? And the section are people who have products and services for the franchise industry. Right. And we have a seminar. One of the most popular seminars is a seminar about franchising your existing business, because like you people come to a trade show not looking to buy a franchise, but want to see what these other franchise companies are doing. And they’re considering franchising their business. And we do a seminar, actually, we do a workshop. It’s a four hour workshop, and we have industry consultants, who are professionals at helping a person franchise their existing business.

Kit  54:12

I think that’s cool. That’s very smart. What are some of the craziest ideas you’ve ever seen? And some of the coolest ideas and do you have I do not have this ability, but some people do. They can look at a concept and go, Oh, that thing’s gonna go gangbusters. And that that one’s not because every time I do that, I’m always it’s always the opposite. But what are some of the craziest ones that you’ve seen? And which ones have you seen really grow up into something enormous that started off as nothing and you sit there and watch the whole thing?

Tom Portesy  54:37

Well, I’m old enough to have many of those examples. Right? So so a lot of these people who were big franchises you know, we kind of started at the same time we kind of grew up in the business together. So that’s cool. Always watching that. Unfortunately, you know, many concepts are bought themselves before they get to 50 100 units. Right? You know, they can’t make that transition of supporting and growing at the same ti