I launched my business properly for the first time at the franchise exhibition last Friday and Saturday. Up till now I have not felt ready to exhibit as I did not feel that our platform was 100% complete. For us, exhibiting at the National Franchise Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham was a resounding success. I think the total cost of our stand including design and build was approximately double the average stand of the same size but it did pay off as our stand was one of the busier ones. I definitely think it was worth our while paying a little more for a custom built stand rather then using the shell system that most other franchisors were using. We also hired two large flat screen plasma monitors. The two 42″ screens cost $600 dollars to hire, install and takeaway… but they were worth it. Our video and digital brochure was live on both screens and this certainly attracted the punters. On the first day we made a lot of mistakes! We did not have a system in place and everybody who helped us man the stand, pretty much did what they wanted. At night we evaluated our day and felt we could have done a lot better! Many of the enquiry forms had not been filled in correctly and so we decided that after the punter had filled in his / her details in the form we were to ask them again, their first name, last name, email address and phone number and write it in duplicate at the bottom of the form. We decided to use our people more effectively. Zak and Uzma were really good at making initial contact and directing people to our stand. They stood outside the stand and greeted people as they passed by. Their sole purpose was to get people into our stand. David, Zubeir, Priyesh and Jamie were very good at explaining the concept and demonstrating it on their laptops. They were each assigned a station and I have to say that they did a great job. I believe that it was a great idea asking our franchisees to help us man our stand. Finally, all really warm inquiries were passed on to me so that potential franchisees could have a chance to evaluate the man behind the concept. This also gave me a chance to study them and see if they would be right for our business model. I definitely believe that it is worth spending more money on a custom built stand and having some features that stand out. On our stand we had a little man (not real) sitting on top of our stand! I noticed that all the stands that had unusual features were a lot busier then your standard shell systems. If you are planning to do an exhibition and need some free advice, get in touch and perhaps we can exchange / share some ideas.