Budget for what you want or need to buy. I’ve had customers tell me they prepare by pulling reports of their yearly sales and planning to buy based on what’s trending in their inventory. Attendees may look at what they’re subrenting and evaluate if it’s worth investing in that product. I’ve had a few start-up rental companies come into my booth with spreadsheets, figuring how much they want to spend at a show and breaking down what each purchase will cost and how many times they will have to rent it to make a profit. It’s impressive how creative these owners will get.
Determine which employees will benefit the most by attending a show. In the tent rental industry, some shows are especially geared toward educational and certification opportunities for installation crews. These shows offer the chance to observe manufacturers installing different sizes and types of tents, from pole and frame tents to engineered clearspan structures. The opportunity for crews to observe proper installation techniques, anchoring and safety procedures and ask questions is priceless.
At the show
Take advantage of educational and training seminars. Even industry veterans can learn a new tip or trick to make the job easier, and no one can afford to keep doing business as usual when technology and the market are constantly changing.
Don’t be shy! Trade shows are the perfect location for networking with other industry professionals. I’ve had many customers who have met each other at shows and end up doing business together, referring jobs or sub-renting inventory.
Mix business with pleasure. A big part of networking includes attending the welcoming or kickoff receptions, brunches, dinners and other social events. While attending these functions, take the opportunity to ask people around you which seminars they benefited from and which booths or exhibits they’d suggest for a visit.
After the show
Keep networking. Follow up on the connections you’ve made that could lead to lucrative partnerships throughout the season.
Share your experiences with your staff and your customers. Give employees who attended the show the opportunity to share new skills and techniques—while the education is still fresh in their minds—with staff who didn’t attend. Let customers know that members of your crew achieved new certifications. Finally, share with customers what new items you have in your inventory—and start turning a profit on those items right away!