A trade-show wrap up

Jan. 1, 2020
The fall trade show circuit has finally reached an end for me. There are a couple of shows left that are not pertinent to my business, but I am sure that my opinions and platitudes will apply to them as well.

The fall trade show circuit has finally reached an end for me. There are a couple of shows left that are not pertinent to my business, but I am sure that my opinions and platitudes will apply to them as well.

First, I was pleased to see that all the shows I attended were busy and from what I have heard, up in attendance. There was a lot business going on. I did arrive home with some observations that I thought I would share, in hopes that you can turn them into wins for your business.

There were a remarkable number of mainstream suppliers who were not present at AAPEX or ASRW that should have been in attendance. I know it is expensive to exhibit at a trade show with the booth costs, transportation, staffing, lodging and any promos you put out. If business is good, why would you put yourself through all of that? The answer is very simple: your customer.

When someone asks me who my suppliers are, I take pride in the relationship I have developed with them over the many years we have been in business. I also enjoy seeing them at the shows I frequent, partially to see the folks from the company and the new products that are available, but mostly for what I will call bench-racing bragging rights. You may not be aware of it, but there is a product loyalty that is akin to the Ford versus Chevy versus Mopar thing that occurs with hot rodders. It’s kind of hard to have bragging rights when your brand doesn’t show. Really, stop and think about it. Ours is a tenuous relationship. I am certain my wife would divorce me if I was late or forgot to call as many times as some of my suppliers do. I have heard and probably been involved in debates over parts that are completely irrational just because a favorite supplier sold them. In my opinion, you owe it to those customers to be at their show just to show their bench racing opponents that you are as good as they claim you are.

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My next observation has to do with what happens when you actually get to a show. One of my friends owns a large, multi-shop collision repair business. During his visit to one of the shows, he passed by the booth of one of his vendors and saw the entire staff facedown into their smart phones. He went about his business and swung by again a little later to see the same condition so he decided to stop by again and see what happened. On his last visit he planted himself in their booth. He stood there for a full 5 minutes without being recognized. Of course at this point he just introduced himself as a fellow who spends a quarter of a million dollars with them and received much different attention. You just never know who that guy walking by might be. Hey, it might be one of your good customers hoping you will ask. Automotive guys are not always the best at introducing themselves.

Trade shows are tiring and expensive propositions. Vendors willing to make the effort have some real opportunity to meet companies that have also made a financial commitment to themselves by being there. It seems like that is someone you would like to have for a customer. Certainly just as important is the opportunity to put some face time in with your best customers. My Mom always told me, “If it was easy, everybody would do it.” Since it’s not easy, only the best and wisest will embrace the resulting success.

The fall trade show circuit has finally reached an end for me. There are a couple of shows left that are not pertinent to my business, but I am sure that my opinions and platitudes will apply to them as well.

First, I was pleased to see that all the shows I attended were busy and from what I have heard, up in attendance. There was a lot business going on. I did arrive home with some observations that I thought I would share, in hopes that you can turn them into wins for your business.

There were a remarkable number of mainstream suppliers who were not present at AAPEX or ASRW that should have been in attendance. I know it is expensive to exhibit at a trade show with the booth costs, transportation, staffing, lodging and any promos you put out. If business is good, why would you put yourself through all of that? The answer is very simple: your customer.

When someone asks me who my suppliers are, I take pride in the relationship I have developed with them over the many years we have been in business. I also enjoy seeing them at the shows I frequent, partially to see the folks from the company and the new products that are available, but mostly for what I will call bench-racing bragging rights. You may not be aware of it, but there is a product loyalty that is akin to the Ford versus Chevy versus Mopar thing that occurs with hot rodders. It’s kind of hard to have bragging rights when your brand doesn’t show. Really, stop and think about it. Ours is a tenuous relationship. I am certain my wife would divorce me if I was late or forgot to call as many times as some of my suppliers do. I have heard and probably been involved in debates over parts that are completely irrational just because a favorite supplier sold them. In my opinion, you owe it to those customers to be at their show just to show their bench racing opponents that you are as good as they claim you are.

PAGE 2

My next observation has to do with what happens when you actually get to a show. One of my friends owns a large, multi-shop collision repair business. During his visit to one of the shows, he passed by the booth of one of his vendors and saw the entire staff facedown into their smart phones. He went about his business and swung by again a little later to see the same condition so he decided to stop by again and see what happened. On his last visit he planted himself in their booth. He stood there for a full 5 minutes without being recognized. Of course at this point he just introduced himself as a fellow who spends a quarter of a million dollars with them and received much different attention. You just never know who that guy walking by might be. Hey, it might be one of your good customers hoping you will ask. Automotive guys are not always the best at introducing themselves.

Trade shows are tiring and expensive propositions. Vendors willing to make the effort have some real opportunity to meet companies that have also made a financial commitment to themselves by being there. It seems like that is someone you would like to have for a customer. Certainly just as important is the opportunity to put some face time in with your best customers. My Mom always told me, “If it was easy, everybody would do it.” Since it’s not easy, only the best and wisest will embrace the resulting success.