“Seeing friends, networking, enjoying the social activities and scheduling a working vacation are all good reasons that many door dealers attend the IDAExpo. But, they should be viewed more as pleasant parts of an annual opportunity to invest in one’s own company, supplemental to the business side of the event.
Simply stated, if you aren’t generating more business and enhancing your company’s profitability following the IDAExpo, you aren’t doing it right!
In addition to the networking, golfing, bike riding, motivating, dining, and dancing, there are two main components to the IDAExpo that are all about your business. The first is education. IDA devotes two full days each year for IDEA-produced seminars aimed at making a difference in the day-to-day lives of door dealers and their employees. The second is the showcasing of products, also given two days, for attendees to discover new opportunities in the market.
Let’s first get two common myth about the IDAExpo out of the way:
– Myth #1 – The seminars are the same each year.
– Reality – No, they’re not!
A small number of topics are repeated from year-to-year, but not many, and only when they remain timely in the industry. Most of the sessions are new, even if some of the presenters are the same. When seminars are repeated, it is to accommodate dealers who attend ever other year, typically based on geographical location, and for those who attend each year, but often have to choose which seminars they can attend, and may want to learn from one they missed the previous year. Each year, IDEA evaluates the market and seeks to determine what matters most to door dealers, at that time, and then produces seminars aimed at helping dealers address those challenges. This changes each year, and a closer look at the workshop descriptions will clearly reveal this reality.
Additionally, sessions such as the Annual Economic Forecast presented by John Zoller and David Bowen, are new each year, based on data gathered during the course of the year, even if the title remains the same.
Myth #2 – There is nothing new on the exhibit hall floor.
Reality – Oh, yes there is!
The vast majority of industry manufacturers and suppliers who invest significant resources to display their products at the IDAExpo do so to display products and services that are in demand and which can bring new sales opportunities to the customers, both existing and new. Very few exhibitors display the same products, without variation, from year-to-year. Even those whose displays don’t show apparent remarkable change have new products to share with dealers.
Whether you are a frequent or infrequent IDAExpo attendee, you can turn the IDAExpo into a profit-driven event for your business, by following some basic steps.
– Plan ahead. Review the IDAExpo schedule and identify the educational sessions that matter most to your business. The schedule is aimed at ensuring there is something for everyone during each time slot throughout the two educational days. Sometimes this means attendees must make choices, but pre-planning can help you maximize the benefit you receive from your educational journey.
– Bring people with you, and then split up. This can resolve the dilemma just mentioned about having to make choices during the educational sessions. There is cost associated with each attendee, and we understand that. But remember, the purpose of the IDAExpo is to help dealers succeed, and if that means a modest investment in your company’s performance, it can generate a nice educational return. Determine which of you will attend which seminars and then plan to sit down and share that information with one another afterwards.
– Bring your technicians. We know you can’t bring them all, but most dealers have one or more technicians who lead by example. They are the people who carry your reputation forth in the market each day. If you are committed to professionalism – and the IDAExpo attendees certainly represented the professional side of the dealer market – then it’s important that every member of your team share that philosophy. Giving them the opportunity to learn and gain a better sense of the broader industry will further advance the image you work so hard to embed in your company’s brand.
– Enroll your technicians in an IDEA certification course or two, and schedule their testing during the event. The credentialing, alone, gives you more horsepower in the market by promoting your use of trained and certified technicians. This year, for example, IDEA is producing a two-day training course on rolling steel doors, including rolling steel fire doors, and then offering both certification exams as an option at the conclusion of the second day. Take advantage of these opportunities and watch your work force elevate themselves to the highest levels of performance and professionalism.
– Have a results-based plan for what you will derive from the educational programming. If you are seeking to increase market share, there is a diversity of powerful sales seminars scheduled to help you accomplish that objective. If you are seeking higher profitability through efficiency and management actions, there are sessions to help you learn from others, and which will inspired confidence in your willingness to make critical changes in your operations. Determine your business objectives, and then attend the seminars that best fit your desired outcome.
– Spend tow days in the exhibit hall. This is the one opportunity you have each year to conduct your own market research. If you were to outsource such a venture, it would cost you far more than the expense of attending the IDAExpo. By conclusion of the show on Saturday, you should leave with a clearer sense of what’s taking shape in the marketplace, what’s available to you and how you can best meet the needs and desires of your customers.
– Talk to the exhibitors. Ask them “What’s new this year?” By doing so, you’ll never leave saying “It’s the same products every year.” New products and opportunities for your company may or may not be evident by waving a cursory glance at the displays at your steadily move from aisle to aisle. The exhibitors have expert personnel on their company’s products on hand to tell you what’s new. Ask them, and you’ll be amazed at how many new opportunities you can find in the exhibit hall.
– Don’t be afraid of the sales people. The exhibitor personnel at the IDAExpo know their products, they understand the needs of door dealers, and they are experts at matching the two. Not every exhibitor is going to meet the needs of every dealer, and many in fact, represent your competition. But, by stopping to visit and ask questions of the exhibitors, you will learn more in your market research. They won’t bite, and they won’t try to hard sell you. They, too, are professionals just like you.
By taking the time and effort to utilize the opportunities available to you, your company can and should expect a measurable return on your IDAExpo investment. If you take these approaches during the Nashville event, you’ll see the IDAExpo in a new light, and it will make all the fun that goes on at the show even more enjoyable.”
– Article by Todd Thomas. Taken from the 2013 IDAExpo issue of “International Door and Operator Industry”.