There are a ton of them. Tradeshows — some are huge and packed with every plumbing, HVAC & hydronic appliance, tool or related part; others, not so much. In any event there are many opportunities out there, each promising to be worth your time. Whether it is a local, specialized show put on by your local chapter trade association or a destination marketed show with the likes of every manufacturer in the book represented; which is the one for you?
The answer to that question is entirely up to you. I know I have attended all types of shows but I find my intentions going into them to be the determining factor of whether each are right for me. If a mini vacation is in order I can tell you that the local chapter of the PHCC, although a nice show in its own right, will not fit the bill seeing that Minneapolis in February is not all that relaxing. I will attend but, not for the opportunity at a sunny sandy beach or to take in a show on the “Vegas Strip.” I use my local shows to sit down with my wholesalers, a chance to talk about what is working and what isn’t. They’re also a great place to converse with other area contractors about current legislation or trends specific to our region. These things are all but off the table at the big national events.
Vacations are nice. So too are the opportunities that may arise by attending a larger show marketed as a “destination.” Shows like the AHR Expo for example. There’s no bigger show that I’m aware of in the United States, and there’s definitely never been another that I’ve been to that can bring so many people and vendors in as they do. That’s a good thing if you plan your trip right.
Having a plan as to what manufacturers you want to visit ahead of time is the key. What do you plan to learn? Is there a certain person you might have dealt with via phone or email that will be in attendance? Maybe you’re looking at changing boiler companies or water heaters; this is your opportunity to do the research and talk with each manufacturer’s top marketing/sales people but in order to get the most out of the trip you have to have a plan. You can start by talking with area reps about who might be best to contact while at the show. Give them a day or two; they’ll likely set up a meeting for you with the team of people planning to be at the show. Having a scheduled time to meet at their booth or for a quick lunch will afford you their full attention and allow them to answer you every question. Without a plan like this you’ll likely be left to peruse the displays on your own with little chance at getting the undivided attention you need.
Small and large shows will often offer education events or seminars. Don’t shy away from those that carry a ticket price for entry either. Consider the topics offered, if you haven’t attended a particular seminar by a nationally recognized presenter you might do yourself a favor and consider it an investment in your company. I know the first time I sat in on a Siggy seminar I was blown away by what I was missing out on here in the frozen northland. Besides, you just never know if they’ll be back again next year, take the opportunity if it presents itself…..If Dan Holohan is reading this, we are well due for a visit by you here in the Twin Cities area, sir.
Whatever show you have chance in attending, have a plan ahead of time. Just walking from booth to booth with no real objective is a waste of anyone’s time. The manufacturers are there to talk with you, let them do their job. It might just benefit you and your company.